Open Thread: Nirvana In Fire Episodes 37, 38 & 39

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! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 37

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.

Episode 38

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.

Episode 39

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!

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phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago

Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Episode 39
·        Zhu Yue – brother in law of Prince Yu and in charge of the Grand Court of Review/The Imperial Court of Justice. We never see him in the drama.

No new characters or places for E37 or E38.

beez
23 days ago

@Sean – my kid owes me. I spent all those years being tolerant of his Catherine Zeta Jones hypnotic state. I’d be in the middle of assigning him chores and I would pause and wait when her TMobile commercial came on (cause I knew her wouldn’t hear a word I was saying anyway). But that’s not my parenting style to wait for a child to pay attention, but… I waited. 😆

beez
29 days ago

@Sean – It’s hard to remember when exactly I stopped trying to be “responsible mom” in front of my son, into a mom that my son knows who will get me squeeing and fangirling. I still don’t go full on high-pitched SQUEEEEE. I like to think I keep it sophisticated and classy in front of him. (He doesn’t know about my folder of K-actor abs.) 😉

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
25 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – fabulous, you seem to have the balance right!

beez
29 days ago

@Sean – I did watch the first season of GOT because, at the time, my son was home from college and made me watch it. He was sure I’d love it and was just waiting on my reaction when Kal Drago first showed up on my screen. Let’s just say my squeeing didn’t disappoint him. (It was after that when i first started reading the books.) Geez, look – I even remembered Jason Malmoa’s character’s name! I’d say he made an impression. 😊

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
29 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez, lololol 😂🤣😂

beez
29 days ago

@Sean – I respect you too much to say what I think of anyone who took the time to count (even with a computer doing the counting). 😉
[totally ribbing you. I’m sure there’s articles everywhere talking about how verbose Martin is. I even heard a joke many years ago about Martin and how the limited characters allowed on Twitter must drive him nuts.]

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
29 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez, I enjoy the ribbing! I think I saw the same joke too re Martin 😊

trackback

[…] | E4-6 | E7-9 | E10-12 | E13-15 | E16-18 | E19-21 | E22-24 | E25-27 | E28-30 | E31-33 | E34-36 | E37-39 | E40-42 | E43-45 | E46-48 | E49-51 | […]

beez
1 month ago

@Sean – The most vivid moment for me is the old warrior turning his back on the enemy army and taking a dump in the middle of the battlefield to show just how little he thought of them. 😂😂😂 I was too through! It is still in my mind as if I’d actually seen it play out! But I stopped reading shortly after that as I lost interest in the Little Dragon Queen.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
30 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez, well that vivid moment takes the biscuit 🤣 In the Code of Chivalry as set out in the Song of Roland, at the time of Charlemagne, the last requirement was: “Never turn the back upon a foe.” So, this scene of the old warrior was beyond insulting. Linda quite likes The Mother of Dragons, but that’s because of the Little Dragon Queen’s relationship with Jason Mamoa in the show – I just keep rolling my eyes 😂

beez
1 month ago

@Sean – I bet he’s crazy. You don’t get that kind of genius without some crazy mixed in there.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
30 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez, I guess at two million words and counting, there is a certain level of cray cray going on 😜

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago

I’m just recalling that earlier in the series, MCS gave Prince Yu extemely sound advice, that in all the fighting with Crown Prince he must take care never to offend the one person he cannot afford to offend – The Emperor. Frustrated and upset with Prince Jing’s rise and MCS’ betrayal, Prince Yu makes a deal with the devil – Xia Jiang – to bring them both down. But in so doing he once again has forgotten whom he shouldn’t offend – the Emperor!

beez
1 month ago

– I read 3-1/2 of the GOT books. I can tell you this the author writes in a way that you can envision what he’s describing. But the weird unrelated journeys that some of the characters go on and characters they meet that, to me, are irrelevant to the story and sometimes never visited again (although take that with a grain of salt from someone who hasn’t finished all the books) makes me truly believe without a doubt that the author ingests hallucinogenic mushrooms before his writing sessions. 😆

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez, as I dust of the cobwebs regarding my recollection of the books (although some of the best plot points are still quite vivid – especially the ones that the TV series chose to ignore or change), each character, from the most major to the most minor are connected in some way and do reappear until it is clear they have no further role to play. Each path taken has a purpose. All in all, I must say though, they were some mighty fine mushrooms 😂

beez
1 month ago

@BE – I can’t thank you enough. You know just what a girl needs. Just as I was thinking “BE said thumbnails, as in n plural but I only see one pic. Oh well, I’ll download it” and lo and behold… when I pressed on the picture, the arrow appeared to take me to nirvana heaven. 👍👍👍👍👍

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  beez

Well beez, with some women, I just want to deal them four kings and an ace.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago

Another cutie pic!

img-89f4ea287a11bfdf54b4eb08b1632471_zpswp54tjzi.jpg
Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Thanks to phl1rxd I know this pose is a reference to the novel

img-39a9a76004a60f4bd5f6fa6724b89294_zpshb1uibwg.jpg
phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Ah ha Elaine – in the novel Fei Liu would do that – lay his head on MCS’ lap! Great pic! I am saving this one.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Well then I must share another!

NIF2Bbromance2B1.jpg
phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Absolute Cuteness!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago

Big thanks to Fangurl and Mom for all the language explanations and Emperor rationales. I have lots to file for future reference so thank you so much 💖. I love language details like this.

E37 – We were all right about that maid.

What Xia Jiang, Prince Yu and the Empress do not understand is that these two incidents have planted a seed of doubt in the Emperor’s mind. Bless his suspicious mind, he sees that this could possibly be a setup targeting Prince Jing and his mother.

I LOVE that look Consort Jing has as she turns around to the maid! 😮

I so agree with Fangurl’s Mom’s thoughts on Ghao Zhan and on Prince Ji in E38. She is spot on! It has to be a precarious place to be when you are at the right side of this Emperor all the time.

To ease his suspicions the Emperor agrees to an investigation and Xia Jiang proves that he is really is a demon in disguise and pulls out his nasty ace – pulling MCS into the Bureau. Remember the Bureau is a place where one goes in and never comes out.

My personal opinion – Prince Jing’s reaction to MCS being pulled into the Bureau is the reason why Prince Jing should not know that MCS is Lin Shu. Prince Jing is defensive enough but if he knew that it was Lin Shu being taken in he would be much more agitated and would do anything to see him released. I really have thought long and hard (and continue to do so) about BE’s POV which I also find to be exceedingly interesting. It has made me think outside the box on Jingy.

MCS already knew this was coming and is prepared. Poor MCS has to take one of his special pills made especially for him by Lin Chen to strengthen his body for this ordeal.

This is one iconic scene – MCS majestically walking out of house toward Xia Jiang. Whew! I must say the music is perfect!

Jingmom is shows us how darn smart she really is! Novel note – after Consort Jing put up that memorial the Emperor was finally able to sleep peacefully though the night. It was not the herbs that Consort Jing burned but the fact that he felt less guilty about Consort Chen.   
    
Ugh – it is not a good situation at the Bureau. What kills me is the look that MCS give Xia Jiang (he tilts his head) when he walks in. The song sung while MCS is in prison is being sung by Prince Jing/Wang Kai himself!

Xia Jiang did not expect MCS to confess right away. It is such a terrifying yet interesting conversation. On one hand I am terrified for MCS and on the other I am in awe of how he is handling it. Note that he tells Xia Jiang that they realized it was a trap when the Bureau was not fully protected but MCS already knew the staffing and that Wei Zheng was moved – the only thing he did not know is where he was moved to. So he set the scenario to panic Xia Jiang to check on Wei Zheng and allow the rescuers to know the location.

Recap E37

  • -Head Eunuch Ghao Zan is a marvel at dealing with the Emperor. Here is what MCS says of our Head Eunuch – “If you were to say who in this world understands his majesty’s feelings and intentions best, it would definitely not be the Noble Consort, not the Crown Prince or Prince Yu, nor any of the court officials who continuously try to speculate the Emperor, but Gao Zhan. He serves by his majesty’s side day and night, and his majesty’s fondness and trust in him has not waned at all. This could not be done without astute reactions and accurate judgments.” Mei Changsu Source

DID YOU KNOW…

  • -Li Gang had already brought Fei Liu out beforehand. The “Must Not Resist” order had already been sternly communicated to all his subordinates, so even though Zhen Ping had to grit his teeth until he nearly ground them to pieces while they waited. Source
  • In the novel the maid Xiao Xin was actually killed that day of discovery
  • -The most frustrating thing for Prince Yu was that no matter how much he investigated, he couldn’t figure out how Mei Changsu and Prince Jing kept in touch when they so rarely had contact. Source        
  • After being called to Jingmom’s Palace over the memorial tablet, the Emperor gave the Empress a bolt of coveted phoenix cloth to ‘give her face’. 

——————————————————————-
E38 – The situation is not good. The interrogation continues. Here the drama is almost identical to the novel. When Xia Jiang grabbed MCS hand he shot a blast of piercing cold air that felt like piercing thorns that twisted his [MCS’] heart. MCS is stalling for time for all his other plans to drop in place. Can he hold out long enough? 😲

Prince Ji does the right thing and lets the Emperor know about what he saw in Dengjia Alley. Yujin did such a good job right now with his assignment from MCS. Pengie alerts Meng Zhi to get ready for his assignment.

Xia Jiang brings out the Wujin Pill (black gold / coal pill). He demonstrates a cut the air move (a martial arts skill that uses air movement to kill). This is really not going well. Xia Jiang is such a bad guy. I am of the opinion that MCS was able to delay that long a time as Xia Jiang was interested in picking at MCS’ brain. Otherwise it would have been over long before. Boom – MCS brings up Prince Qi and now we see Prince Qi in the past, his father’s reactions to his progressive ideas and why Meiling occurred. That is a big eye opener. When MCS hits him with Meiling, Xia Jiang hits MCS with the Wujin Pill.

It is thrilling to see Meng Zhi ride to the rescue. Give up some room Miz B, 😁 we are all in the Meng Zhi love boat right now! 💖I love that look of disbelief on Xia Jiang’s face when faced with the Imperial token. Thank you so much for the language explanation Fangurl!

Xia Dong does an excellent job in front of the Emperor with her assignment in casting blame on Xia Jiang’s head.

Xia Jiang is set on killing MCS one way or the other. Here is where the questions in Xia Dong’s brothers’ minds comes into play. Their hesitation provides just enough time for Fei Liu to rescue his Su gege.
 
Recap E38

  • -I am so worried about MCS and the Wujin Pill.
  • -MCS has out-played Xia Jiang by a mile

DID YOU KNOW…

  • – Let’s talk about Lil Bit Fei Liu – what an accomplished young actor (he also plays the guitar and has a passable singing voice). As Elaine posted last week he has been in in the biz since he was 5 – just check out the YT video “Leo Wu- Child star to a super star”. He has his own agency called Wu Lei Studio. He has practiced martial arts since he was a small child. I cannot wait to see what this young man does as he grows up.
  • -Discussion in prison with Xia Jiang on Prince Qi – “For you, inheriting the generations old Xuanjing Bureau tradition is important because owning Xuanjing Bureau means owning the privilege and prerogative that comes with it. But just for this sake, you disregard everything on earth to falsely accuse a virtuous prince. This is the work of a demon. Xia Jiang, you are a demon, and you know this in your own heart.”…MCS Source

——————————————————————-
E39 – Xia Dong is on the hot seat but I do not think she dislikes being there. I love how Xia Jiang has no idea of what happened in that alley and that Prince Ji saw Wei Zheng with Xia Dong. In the drama Xia Jiang mentions that he was the one who allowed Xia Ding to open the gates of the Bureau. My bet is that Xia Dong passed this info to MCS who used it to his advantage.

Meng Zhi and Xia Dong work together ( here and at the birthday party – they make a great two-de-force) to convince the Emperor that Xia Jiang is behind it all to ruin Prince Jing. In the novel Meng Zhi went so far as to tell the Emperor that “When your servant was at Xuanjing Bureau just now, he caught sight of Xia Qiu supporting Mei Changsu to the prison cell. Mister Su appeared to have been tortured…..” Source This news stunned the Emperor.

Enter Stage Left – my two favorite Ministers, Cai Quan and Shen Zui! They report that the explosion at the fireworks factory was set by Zhu Yue. I have mentioned him in E35 and 36, He is Prince Yu’s brother-in-law and BIG oops – he is also in charge of the Grand Court of Review/The Imperial Court of Justice. The Emperor ties it all together and is incensed.  He sees Prince Yu as being behind all the aggravation he is experiencing right now and he is not happy. Note that Zhu Yue was not part of MCS’ plan in the novel. Also – we never see this character in the drama but the novel has him as quite the bad guy.

MCS leaves the Bureau and I want to say that I appreciate the makeup artist giving him lowlights below his cheekbones. In the novel MCS had lost weight while there and was quite ill as it was freezing in there, he did not have his medicine and the food was terrible. The novel said that he looked gaunt and the makeup showed this. I appreciate this level of detail!

Prince Yu gets off the hook again. Maybe it was the blood running down his head? Minister Cai is a tenacious pit-bull and I love it.

MCS is spitting blood and we are all worried to death.

Recap E39

  • -I am so impressed with what MCS has done. He is truly, truly the Divine Talent.  

DID YOU KNOW…

  • -After Prince Yu was summoned to the Emperor he began to sweat profusely thinking about MCS and his ability to secretly “produce clouds with one hand and rain with the other”.
  • -Minister Cai Quan was well known to be a criminal expert. 

I end with a photo of our own Leo Wu/Fei Liu at 7.

Screenshot 2021-08-18 of Leo Wu at 7.png
Ele Nash
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Oh, Fei Lui! 🤗 Thank you for all those tidbits of information, , you are amazingly generous to research all this stuff. I love that final quote the Emperor made about Mei Changsu and his ability to secretly “produce clouds with one hand and rain with the other”. It reminds me of Hu Ge’s end song which references clouds. In case anyone is interested, the translation goes:
碧血长枪 昨日少年
The youth from yesterday with precious blood and long spear
孤影归途 不见烽烟
Returns by his lonely self, no more war
一笔千秋 后人心间
It is written for all to see
风起云散
That wind scatters the cloud.” 😢
I got that from this website: Cdrama: Nirvana in Fire OST and Lyrics Translation | A Virtual Voyage
I LOVE the OST! If you want a good cry, the lyrics to Nihuang’s song (well, I call it that) are on youtube: Chinese Classic Song with subtitle – Nirvana In Fire Of Drama Main Song – YouTube 😭

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ele – that was lovely! I also love the OST and I love the sound bits (sounds like sticks being knocked against each other) we hear during important lulls in important conversations – it just adds tons of feeling.

Liu Tao has a beautiful voice.

Leo Wu is so stinking cute in that photo. I loved Elaine’s photos last week as well.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ah I love the ending song. The way he sings the last 4 words is so poignant…
“风起the wind rises” – this is sung loudly, assertively. It is inevitable, the wind is coming.
“云散… The clouds scatter” – this is sung softly, trailing off. As if MCS knows that as the wind sweeping away corruption there will not be all happiness but also sadness.
P

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

And Jing can sing! Talk about the innuendo of Jing singing the song that depicts MCS situ in the dungeon. I keep saying, fellow is underrated.

Great stuff phl1rxd.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

BE – Yes all three – Hu Ge, Wang Kai and Liu Tao sing the three main songs. As this is not the norm in western entertainment (not that I watch any so I may be wrong), I am amazed a the multi-talents of our stars.

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I think it’s not so uncommon as most of us generally suppose. Most actors that we see in big productions like this train for a long time and in many cases receive a pretty broad arts education that includes work in music and musical theatre. I suspect we have more Meryl Streeps (who, while not known as singer, sings pretty darned well) than Pierce Brosnans (who doesn’t sing all that well).

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Thanks j3ffc – I never knew that about Meryl Streep. I always though Hugh Jackman was the exception. Yes, I do admit that I am poorly educated on western actors and actresses.

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd
phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  j3ffc

LOL! I have never seen it so that was an eye opener. I have never seen Grease either. Thanks J3ffc!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

You should take a gander at Grease, phl 😊

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Kristen Bell is another versatile performer. I first saw her in Veronica Mars where she played a teen detective who was tough on the outside but a loyal friend, as well as in The Good Place. Turns out she has a background in musical theatre and voiced the speaking and singing role of Anna in Frozen!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Thanks BE!!! I enjoyed it. I will say one of Hu Ge’s assets is his ability to project a childlike quality and this comes through when he sings. 👼

This innocent quality was put to use by the directors in a lot of his early wuxia dramas (Condor Heroes, etc.) where he projects a little darling vibe (because he is a a little darling 😍). I have seen some of his present day dramas and while he does have some serious moments (The Disguisers e.g.) he still has those impish moments.

But with NIF there is such an added dimension to his performance and the first time I saw it I was taken aback. I was like “Well DxxM, Hu Ge is very talented!” I was not used to seeing him in that kind of role and he owned it. Even with the few NIF impish moments the bulk of the role is dead serious.

I do believe that NIF is his masterwork – at least up to now. I sincerely hope that he is given a great piece to work on in the future. All I can say is that I am so glad the he never went to that director school and instead went to the acting school.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

This one too, maybe even more:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j00UWbnF53g

Have you seen Game of Hunting? The one that also features beez’s squee Chen Long
@beez: oh the thumbnails! Here’s Johnny!
https://doramatv.live/list/person/chen_long

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Those were great – Beez will love Chen Long pics.

I did see Game of Hunting and did not last past E21 when I dropped it like a hot potato due to the terrible writing. Acting was great – writing was horrific.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I was not as impressed on my first watch with him, actually a bit more taken actually by Victor Huang, who upon second viewing I still find spectacular, not to mention the best being yet to come. But this time around, well I agree, simply a marvel, and it would be hard for me to imagine a greater role than Mei Chang Su for Hu Ge. But then I am of the Chuno camp, and not even close, vis a vis Jang Hyuk. I am really glad we have had the two of them for group watch here (thank you K), and the voluminous response to both demonstrates each their greatness.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Yes BE the best is yet to come! 🧨🔥💥

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

So in one of these cast silly question fora, the question was put to several of the male cast why so little female presence in show. All the men copped out on their answers, except for Hu Ge who started out saying too many male actors, but revealed that in fact, with that straight face of his afterward breaking into his impish grin, actually show did have one great lead female part, and he got to play it.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd
BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Sorry about the lack of synch on this, Still an interesting insight.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

No worries on the synch! I watched the entire video and it was very interesting. Loved how the soundtrack was him signing. So now to watch Wild Goose Lake. That seems way serious.

Thanks BE for that lovely diversion from real life – Hu Ge with his magnificent face, smile and longish hair.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Love your epic comments with lots of backstory bits. And what a cutie pie pic of Leo Wu!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Elaine – I loved your photos last week! What a crew and those photos showed how much fun they all had on set – Hu Ge was always cracking up so the director told him that he would be fined $100 every time he laughed and ruined a scene. Not sure how much he paid in fines. You should link the BTS videos after the group watch is over even though they are not subbed just because they are so good.

The best photo was the Hu Ge and Leo Wu photos then and now! Double cuteness doubled!

Asotss
Asotss
1 month ago

-No one : ” I feel like everyone is fooling around in this drama. Could we have poise, gravitas ?”
-Mei Changsu :”Hold my tea cup.”

That shot is so iconic. It’s one of the six scenes that come immediately to my mind whenever NIF is mentionned.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Asotss

Love this! Hold my teacup indeed. I was noticing during his long scene with XJ, MCS downed at least 3 cups of tea!

J3ffc
J3ffc
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Not counting the one he tossed because it didn’t meet his standards!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Actually as someone who actually drinks Chinese tea, I’m perplexed why he continued to drink from that teapot then. If the first cup poured tasted terrible (old leaves? Someone mentioned earlier in the series that XJ is frugal and doesn’t buy the newest leaves of the season), the subsequent pours where the leaves have steeped even longer would taste even worse!

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Caffeine? Doing the trash talk tango with XiaJia requires a tad extra mental sharpness.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago

I just realised this. In pulling of Wei Zheng’s rescue, MCS was not content to *just* rescue him, he used Xia Dong and Prince Ji to put the nail in XJ and Prince Yu’s coffin! Because I think from the Emperor’s perspective, Yu conniving with Xuanjing head Xia Jiang, whom the Emperor had previously trusted completely, is a much more heinous crime than Prince Jing’s crime of rescuing a traitor. What’s really funny about this whole charade is that Prince Jing and Prince Yu are absolutely guilty of the crimes being laid at their door, it’s just that Yu was the one caught red-handed by the Emperor.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

And this is what makes NIF so high-level compared to other shows. Probably any other show would have been content to rescue Wei Zheng in a flurry of impressive action. But only this show manages to use the impossible rescue to so thoroughly turn the tables on the villains. Impressive… most impressive (quoting Darth Vader). Also in any other show the heroes would be celebrating with a victory party after rescuing their comrade. In this show, the hero prepares to be arrested and gets poisoned for his troubles. Gee whiz!

GuruGulabKhatri
GuruGulabKhatri
1 month ago

As we progress with the show, I have to give a huge shoutout to the villains!

I don’t think the story would be as effective as it is, and we would not have rooted for the protagonists as much as we do, if it weren’t for the absolutely devious villains.

I can imagine being bored with the show if MCS was this all- powerful, omniscient MC, without there being a genuine threat to him being outsmarted.
And XJ, even though we now see him being played, is definitely much more devious and cunning than even the Marquis from the previous arc.

Also, Victor Huang’s acting prowess really comes through in the scene when he gets hit on his head. The humiliation behind his tears really did take me by surprise, considering the fact that we have only ever see him being a cool cat so far.

I was also very surprised to see the impact Prince Ji had on the Emperor. The latter really seemed to be taking his counsel. And the tiny moment that they shared, where the emperor acknowledged that the Ji was being silly to cheer him up, felt very wholesome. As the emperor is growing old, it seems like he is gravitating towards people who are honest and grounded, like Mama Jing. Which is unfortunate, considering he himself is responsible for creating a court where drama and connivance is the norm.

BE
BE
1 month ago

Yeah, I really think the villains are good in this, but Prince Yu, especially given Victor Huang’s performance of him, is just a notch above. While our consternation with Marquis Xie Yu and even moreso Xia Jiang in no small part because their narcissistic sociopathy is abetted by their massive cunning, our sometime sympathy and admiration for Banruo is blunted by her less all knowing intelligence combined with a nihilistic and sadistic streak, while we find the old Crown Prince a pitiful sack of slobbering privilege, and his mom, a rather distasteful and transparently manipulative ….., Prince Yu is a full blown, flawed in an almost tragic manner, very human character. Yes he can be arrogant, but when he is so, he is so suave about it. And yes, he can be all the time trying to rig the game his way, but while he certainly seems to be really smart and able to think on his feet, and his decisions seem based on solid rationales, they all seem to crumble in his hands. There is something about Prince Yu that provokes compassion, and I think that something is in Victor Huang’s performance of him.

Melka
Melka
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

BE, You state it very well, in spite of everything, Prince Yu manages to be sympathetic. And similar to Elaine’s point about saving Wei Zheng and not resting on those laurels, in any other series, we’d simply cheer over Prince Yu’s downfall, but those tears and his bleeding forehead! I was so surprised with myself the first time I saw that scene, I was actually frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy his downfall. Instead, I felt so bad for his humiliation. Further dampening our sense of satisfaction is Cai Quan’s disgruntlement with the case being closed too neatly without a full trial. So much points towards larger systemic issues that damage both our heroes and villains alike.

Melka
Melka
1 month ago
Reply to  Melka

Posted before adding that the final line of Eps 39 was chilling. In response to Lie Zhanying being so surprised that within a single day, the Emperor’s attitude could change towards Xia Jiang. Prince Jing then says: ‘Xia Jiang was not the first. In the past, he also trusted Prince Qi and Xiao Shu. He used to favor them the most.’
The pacing of these narrative beats is so masterfully handled, it all comes together in so many ways. That final conversation is beautifully bathed in long shadows of the setting sun, with a brief dark night shot of MCS sleeping/sick in bed.

Ele Nash
1 month ago

Ooh, kfangurl and kfanmama, you definitely help enlighten things! I really enjoyed the Chess Masters match between Mei Changsu and Xia Jiang. So gripping! And, can I just say, the actor who plays Xia Jiang has fantastic, emotive eyes? MCS was cool as a cucumber, for the most part, while Xia Jiang seemed to spin those cogs in his head, chasing to keep up with MCS’ manoeuvres. Check Mate?

And I love everyone’s comments here too. I had similar thoughts about the poison that 1. the red pill was protection, or 2. MCS fiddled about with that black pill until Xia Jiang turned around and then he swapped it for a harmless lookalike, or 3. well, MCS went in knowing about the Bureau’s poison of choice and who else than the Alliance would know of the antidote? Xia Jiang seems so sure only he can supply the antidote but that seems arrogant and unlikely.

Anyho, I wanted to add a few things I particularly enjoyed. Firstly, the camerawork. Ah, that swoop turn as Mama Jing turns to face the betraying handmaiden! She looked fearsome – but then is so calm and collected and fair. She is the best of them in that palace. If only Prince Jing had inherited her grace under pressure instead of the hot flare of temper from the Emperor.

And then the steady camera as the doors swing open, the Bureau charge in and there’s gorgeous Mei Changsu waiting, as composed and regal as any god 😍

And then again, the use of the camera swoop as Xia Jiang turns serpent-like on Mei Changsu, when MCS mentions Prince Qi. Oof! It was the only time MCS gave away any emotion or anger and I was all like, eek MCS, hold your nerve! Don’t reveal too much! But then I realised he’d done it to charge up Xia Dong who was eavesdropping. Clever. MCS showed her (if she needed seeing again) that Xia Jiang is evil. And just before she’s carted off to face the Emperor.

Ah, who is really guileless? I like kfanmama’s thoughts on the Emperor’s brother. And as for Commander Meng, he seemed to show exactly the right kind of naivety at exactly the right moments which does indeed beg the question, how non-plussed is he ever really 🤔

I was super-annoyed by Prince Jing more often than I was impressed, I’m afraid. Talk about over-acted over-reacting when Xia Jiang mentions bringing in MCS. I mean, sure, make a bit of fuss in the heat of the moment but he made it so obvious to our Suspicious Emperor that he’s involved with our Divine Talent 🙄 Hmm, it would have been helpful if MCS could have prepared our react-first-think-later prince and if your reasoning is correct, kfangurl (his worry Jingy would worry) then, really, is Prince Jing actually going to make a good Emperor or not?!

And lastly, just to get everything off my chest 😆, the Emperor noting Prince Yu is too like him, and in the next breath growling that Yu isn’t willing to ever admit to his mistakes… Hmm… Just leaving that there 😊

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ahaha great points Ele! I did notice MCS got uncharacteristically angry when talking to Xia Jiang about Prince Qi, and I wondered why he was giving away his “real motivation”, didn’t think it was for Xia Dong’s benefit.

And your last line on the Emperor growling that Prince Yu isn’t willing to ever admit his mistakes, lol!

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

@ele nash: I guess I get to stand up for Prince Jing once again. Hmmmph. First let us just start with what has occurred off screen. Who exactly was it to pose to Xia Dong her role in this plot? Um, oh yeah, I remember, Prince Jing who pointed out to MCS how much more preferable it would be if he were the one to engage her. That is the most crucial element of the whole scheme pivots upon Jing’s ability to pitch it to Xia Dong in a way that she is willing to do the dirty work for all of them. Secondly, why the Prince is the Great Hope is because the man cares, because he is willing to make the risk, the one that brings Marquis Yan into the mix, to do what is right, because he is the one who can get even the plotting MCS, overly concerned himself for Prince Jing, to do the right thing and rescue their comrade in arms, leading to this amazing and quite winning set of circumstances. And finally, note how forewarned, Prince Jing does not even bat an eye, literally, while his mother is being called to task and Prince Yu shamelessly taunts him. Jing makes mistakes only when he is not left in the loop. As Emperor, you can bet he will demand being left in the loop. Really, the mistakes you wish to take Jing to task for were, in fact, MCS’ mistakes in underestimating him.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

BE – I must say that I am really enjoying your rationalizations on ‘to tell’ or ‘not to tell’ Jingy. It is fascinating. Being a very cautious person by nature, I have a different viewpoint but I truly enjoy reading yours and I usually am prone to go into deep thought after reading your explanations. Really glad to hear your POV.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

: Well, I can see how this is a necessary feature of the plot. Why else would there be such fortuitous near misses if it weren’t for leaving JIng in the dark. But from a purely results oriented perspective, I really do not get how it is being cautious and not stupid to keep on with this business when time after time Jing if informed handles himself with aplomb.
I think it is pretty obvious when Jing is nonplussed about his mother having been forewarned, he could handle both MCS and Lin Shu with the exact same mean and lean poker face with which he goes about things all the time. His mother, did not flap an eyelid.
I just do not get watching how Jing behaves, rather than what everyone says about him, what evidence there is that he will blow it if he knows the score. He only blows it when he is left out of the loop. Does he know MCS is Lin Shu when throws a fit over the whole escape deal? Is he made aware of the MCS/Xia Jiang confrontation being part of the trap to bring him down, and so a necessary part of the plot?
Yes, he might very well quarrel with MCS about things in front, but in a certain way, as with the deal with Xia Dong, his point of view is not necessarily incorrect. These men should be partners.
I would say, I really do not get the other point of view at all. But I can see I remain well in the minority nonetheless.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Good points BE – I shall ponder on this deeply for the remainder of the watch.

Ele Nash
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

We’re on the same page, @BE, with regards to why MCS (other than for making a tense plotline tenser) doesn’t tell Jingy he’s Lin Shu. If Mei Changsu believes it will distract Prince Jing so much, and therefore, he wouldn’t allow MCS to do what needs to be done for fear of MCS being hurt, it is either a gross underestimation of Prince Jing’s commitment to righting the terrible wrong against the Chiyan Army – or, MCS is right and to my mind that doesn’t actually bode well for Jingy being an insightful and reasoned Emperor, let alone a true and loyal friend. I mean, I LOVE Prince Jing for being profoundly loyal to Lin Shu – loyalty which in Lin Shu’s case is deserved. So either MCS should trust that loyalty might work in his favour or presume Jingy is so bull-headed he’d make as biased and hot-tempered murky emperor as the Emperor himself. Because, frankly, any risks MCS makes Jingy would have to accept given he’s dying anyway and his dying cause is to set things right, clear his own name and his father’s and all his brothers-in-arms. That’s the sacrifice (as ones made on the battlefields Jingy knows so well) Lin Shu AKA Mei Changsu is willing to make, so how would Jingy dare to stand against him in that? As true and loyal friend as I can see he is.
However, my melodrama head is also wheezily enjoying the oncoming storm, that scene I know is on its way showing Prince Jing finally realising MCS is his Lin Shu and that is something I know I will cry over and love in equal measure 😁😍😭

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Great comment Ele!

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago

Good morning everyone!

This has become a small ritual for me, having a cup of coffee on Wednesday mornings and reading the weekly open thread!

This time around, I watched the episodes pretty soon after the last open thread, and now I realize that I probably didn’t watch episode 39 to the end – well, thank goodness for the recap!

Grand Prince Ji is my new favourite character, of course. He’s a big, soft, benevolent as you say, teddy bear and I love him. He also seems to care a lot about his majestic brother, too. I just love him.

I was under the impression that Mei Changsu swapped the pills when Xia Jiang left his one, poisonous one, unsupervised before him during the bizarre interrogation. Bizarre, because I got the feeling that it was MCS who was doing the interrogation, after all.

Xia Dong was really beautiful in these episodes. I know, this is a pretty superficial remark, but there you have it. I still wonder where the fairest of them all is, though.

Would that be the end of Xia Jiang? He seems pretty done for. I can’t say I will miss him, even though I much more appreciated the actor playing him in these last episodes. I still have a preference for the Evil Marquis though, too bad he was cut out of the show so early!

BE
BE
1 month ago

Gosh it is fun reading your reax K. I mean, it is like we all get to sit and watch it with you, and listen to you riff.

A couple of thoughts, first on Gao Zhan, played by the wonderful Tan Xie He who simply disappears into his role. Did anyone else notice that Gao Zhan did not point out to the Emperor that it had been a bad luck day for Prince Yu when his siht hit the fan? Or how he lets his voice trail off with innuendo when asking if the Emperor wants to go back to the place, knowing full well that the Big Man wants a strong dose of what Consort Jing has got to deal with what is ailing him.

And in a way this is @beez vis a vis your point about how Meng leans into his reputation for being a hazelnut cookie shy of dessert to play and fret upon the oh so smart Emperor, why the man has done it the whole way through this plot. What if Meng’s slow wit is just a ploy he is playing on everyone including MCS? While the rest are playing chess in three dimensions, I get the feeling at times we need to remind ourselves that Meng is battle tested in at least four.

Finally, once again I will bring up how not keeping Jing in the loop is dangerous. Yes I know MCS would have had to argue Jing down about allowing himself to fall into Xia Jiang’s clutches, but the time it took would have been worth it. Left out of the loop, Jing almost blows it all over again fearing for MCS safety. Not necessary. Trust the man, I say; put in the time to persuade him in front.

BE
BE
1 month ago

Initial reax:
Well, given my sadistic nature, if I were the group producing this show, I would say the curtain has just fallen on Season 2 of Nirvana in Fire. I know some out there would like just a teensy bit more resolution before the break, but I kinda like leaving it just where it is. The roof caved in on Xia Jiang, Prince Yu, and their whole crew, and doneso with whoosh the whirlwind jiujitsu fury, kinda like a Fei Liu blow to a Xia Chun solar plexus, the light, boom, gone out, the boom, crack, leveled. How cool is all that? The Lady in Waiting Double X taken to school, the Empress, my goodness, one death stroke leveled after another, completely un womaned. Xia Dong, oh, what can one say about Xia Dong other than is she the greatest warrior in Liang or what? Hero of heroes that Xia Dong. Manly Meng on horseback, a one man cavalry to the rescue, Emperor bro telling the big man to stay calm, be compassionate. Smiling Yu Jin, flawlessly, drawing the wool over everyone’s eyes in a way no one on earth could possibly suspect. Irony abounding in every turn of the phrase, The midlevel boys from justice reminding us all oh about that explosion way back when and, hmmmn, look what evidence we just found. Yu despite everything including a bloody brow, still having just a bit more than every other villain to him finding a way for the Emperor to save face and still bring the hammer down. And now ladies and gents, here’s the deal, you are all just gonna hafta wait another year to see whether our man in a fur lined bathrobe currently spitting up blood will survive the poison pill just shoved down his throat after escaping every other form of mortal danger. As Trent queried last week, “what’s next?” Hey, we all have the third and final season of Nirvana in Fire coming up.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Yes, and as it happens, that “what’s next” was in fact prompted by the fact that I’d just blitzed through these three episodes…

….just like, now that this week’s post is up, I am blitzing through the next three! Yes, sportsfans, we are in crunch time now. Will our beloved scrappy underdogs pull it off at the bell? Stay tuned…

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

I realised upon this watch that Xia Dong accepted she would pay an incredibly heavy price to bring down Xia Jiang!! Betraying not just him but also the rest of her colleagues at the Bureau – didn’t she have any feelings for those junior officers killed by the Yaowang Valley boys? And now with this plot, she will definitely go to prison too! Emperor is v mad.

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Right! Xia Dong is taking all this burden on her shoulders. I mean I know she wants to get Xia Jiang, but it seems a little harsh on herself and her colleagues. With the exception of Xia (?), the others seemed unaware of their Shifu’s devious ways, and I really felt for Xia Qiu trying to look out for Xia Dong and also trying to find out what’s going on.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

Xia Chun, the eldest disciple, was the one more clued in to Xia Jiang’s deviousness, but even he was not so corrupt and cruel as Xia Jiang I think. Notice how XJ left Xia Chun out of the loop on the bombs.

Xia Qiu mentions in Chinese that he is biological brother to Xia Dong, that may be why he gives her more of the benefit of the doubt.

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I obviously didn’t catch that… Thanks Elaine.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Elaine – great catch – Xia Qiu and Xia Dong are actually twins in the novel.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I love how their faces appear identical but Mr. Long just follows orders, while Shorty is the critical thinker of the two.

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

BE, did you by any chance watch Game of Thrones? And if you did, did you ever come across Ozzy man’s reviews on YouTube? Your post remind me of those!

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

Yes I watched Thrones, and had my own takes on it, most particularly vis a vis the end about which I can only say this, if they chose to go the tragic route, they should have taken it all the way. Arya dead, actually a ghost on horseback, in the penultimate episode. Tyrion executed by Dany. Jon Snow fried to a crisp by the dragon after his

THE GOT spoiler
killing of her
. All of Westeros starving out the winter and wandering groups of Dothraki raiding what settlements remained for what food and supplies could be gleaned. Bran stuck in some tree for the duration gazing at his knotty navel in long fits of remorse. I wasn’t against going the tragic route, just wished they had the guts to follow it through if that was their decision. And oh somewhere way in the north another white walker coming to life by some trick of natural fate. You know the way the end of Ashin of the North is so uncompromising.
I read reviews, but do not ever remember reading any that went as far as my own musings, for example early on I was certain that show was going to kill Arya off by having her slip on a banana peel.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Man, if I get sucked into recapitulating all my Thrones angst, we’re gonna be here for awhile…

(I was (and am) a fan of the book series since long before it was ever a glimmer in Beniof and Weiss’s collective eye, and have fond(?) memories of spending many hours with fellow obsessive nerds on the internet speculating about all the hidden meanings of that tourney at Harrenhall, and what really happened during Robert’s Rebellion, and so forth and so on…)

More to your point, I think (much to my sadness–she’s one of my favorite characters in the books) that George was laying the seeds of Danaerys’s downfall in A Dance of Dragons (the last published book, to date), but that something he might have managed to successfully bring to fruition through another 2,000 pages of yet-to-be-published novels ended up completely botched by the showrunners, who only had the Cliff Notes version of the ending, as opposed to the meticulous literary plotting backstopping the first five seasons…

…and that’s probably enough threadjacking from me, sorry.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

The bane of bad storytelling: too many plot complications and in the attempt to rectify that whitewashed conclusions that run counter to the spirit of the entire enterprise. This is true no matter where story is conceived, and because it affects the final element of a story so adversely, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth about the whole enterprise. To a lesser degree I felt this about Vincenzo this year.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

The books are something to behold, Trent. I watched a wonderful interview with George RR Martin recently. He said at the time the show was pitched to him why should I say no, when the only writer at the time who could say no to Hollywood and TV producers was JK Rowling. Hopefully, when he does get around to publishing the books to close out the series, it will have the key plot adjustments required.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

I enjoyed the GOT books too! But I felt books 4 and 5 were too draggy. Yes by Book 5 from what I vaguely remember unfortunately Daenerys appeared to be a temperamental ruler with potential to become a dictator.

I wonder
(A) If the criticism about the series ending will cause George R R Martin to change the outcome of his series
(B) if he will ever finish the series.

I used to be an avid reader of fantasy series when I was younger. List patience with The Wheel of Time by Book 6. And indeed the author passed before completing the series! Since then I’ve tried to look for completed series to read =(

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

George has publicly said he will wrap it up and the ending will be different. He is close to finishing The Winds of Winter and the final book, which he hasn’t started, is called A Dream of Spring.

As for The Wheel of Time, a masterpiece until chapter 37 in the final book. I then didn’t like where it ended up. The author did say this is how Robert Jordan wanted it to end. Anyway, Amazon are set to release the first season of the TV series and stars Rosamund Pike (a favourite actress of mine) as Moraine. So, the remote is all “primed” to go 😂

A completed series recommendation for you Elaine is the Deverry Cycle by Katharine Kerr. It is epic at 16 books and every bit as good as the above two series. In fact, it stands on its own really, it’s that good. Even my wife used to grab the books off me to read before I finished reading them.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Oh my sweet summer child…

George has said he’s “getting close” so many times (without ever making good on it, obviously), that he’s actually sworn off making further updates…several times. It’s been a decade since Dance was published, and well, George is in his 70s now. I know George has said he is committed to seeing it finished, many times, and believe me, no one yearns for it more than me (unless maybe it’s George’s editor), but yeah…the flame of hope is flickering pretty feebly here at this point…

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

We can only hope!

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

The flame still flickers! Dimly, but ’tis not dead yet (“it’s only resting”)

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

As I said before, too many plot complications, already at end of 5 both serious holes in plot in places, especially vis a vis one dead character reappearing without any context–even Martin cannot keep track of his characters, and then subsequently disappearing, not to mention the seriously boring Tyrion as a sideshow entertainer. If Martin had ended it with Book One, it would have been a serious all time fantasy novel classic. Given his penchant for more inevitable plot complications, A Dream of Spring would require three thousand pages.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Ahhhh thank you so much for the info and recommendation Sean!

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I know a lot of people had that reaction to books 4 & 5, which is perhaps not unexpected after the summit that was Storm of Swords (aka book 3). After rereading them both a couple times, I’ve come to appreciate their charms.

A disquisition on the character and narrative arc of Danaerys through book 5 is…way beyond the scope of this comment, but just recall that she was still a teenager, had no particular training in politics or practical governance, and yet was trying to effect radical change and just, stable rule in a foreign country and culture after overthrowing the existing elite power structure. The revolution is relatively simple, at least when you’re backed by a fanatically loyal professional army and three fire-breathing dragons. It’s what comes after that’s the real challenge. I give George credit for realizing that and trying to show it. I had hopes at the end of book 5 that Danaerys might have learned the right lessons from her sojourn in Mereen, but you can also see fairly clearly the seeds of her breaking bad, and given events in the last couple seasons, that’s apparently the direction George was/is contemplating going. As I said earlier, I think he has a chance of making it more complex, nuanced, and at least satisfyingly tragic than the dog’s breakfast we got in the show…

Once upon a time, I held fast to my faith that he would manage to finish the series but I admit…it’s gotten a lot harder to hold onto that faith.

Funny you mention Wheel of Time, as my oldest community of online friends was initially formed via wheel of time fandom, way back in the 90s. The latter books, before Jordan passed away, were getting kind of bloated and draggy (although his last I thought was a pretty good return to form), but I think Brandon Sanderson, who finished the series with the final three books, did about as well as anyone could expect of anyone who wasn’t the original author. I am curious to see what Amazon had made of their adaptation, with the first season coming this November.

Have you tried The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin? Or if you want something a bit less apocalyptic, her early trilogy, The Inheritance Trilogy. A very very good writer.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

Ooh thanks for the recommendation!

I spent my primary and secondary school years imbibing David Eddings, Piers Anthony, the Dragonlance trilogy, Tolkien. I read many more than those but they were not so memorable. As an adult I’ve enjoyed Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, and City of Stairs was intriguing, very enjoyable read but didn’t grab me emotionally as the earlier reads did. I read the GOT books in college, old enough to appreciate the adult themes. Then Feast of Crows. And then reread all the books with the release of Dance of Dragons. I didn’t realise it has been 10 years already! Sigh.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Oh boy…I spent a few years back in high school reading and rereading Eddings, and then a few years ago, introduced the books to my daughter, who did the same (although we had a couple good talks about its very problematic racial essentialism…). Then I learned about he and his wife’s conviction for child abuse and felt retroactively kind of creeped out. Similar experience with Piers Anthony, read a bunch of stuff in early teens, before realizing he had a pretty creepy fixation on various topics.

I didn’t love Mistborn, for some reason, but I am really very much enjoying Sanderson’s current huge project, The Stormlight Archives, which puts the “epic” back in epic fantasy… The City of Stairs trilogy is an impressive bit of work as is Bennett’s current trilogy (final volume coming soon), starting with Foundryside.

One recommendation I forgot to list earlier…have you read Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles? A word of caution, it’s supposed to be a trilogy, but he’s been stuck on the last book for about as long as Martin has been stuck on the next GoT book. But I loved the first two books, big fat epic reads with a lot to chew on (The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear).

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

Yes I vaguely heard that about the Eddings! I only really loved the Belgariad, Malloreon and Elenium. Yes to the problem of racial essentialism. Also not healthy romantic relationship dynamics. Piers Anthony yucks yes creepy! And some of the Xanth books wandered into pointlessness! I did enjoy some of the series about the Immortals like Death, the Fates etc and how mortals have to take up the roles from time to time.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Perhaps, Elaine, in a few years to come, take a look at The Thomas Covenant Chronicles (if you haven’t already). They were brilliant, the best since Tolkien, but I was so disappointed with the sixth book (Book 3 in the Second Chronicles).

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

Early Patricia McKillip. Although the final installment of the Riddle Master series falls a bit flat, no one does fantasy magic better, and the second installment, Heir of Sea and Fire has absolutely breathtaking examples of such. Joy Chant and Robin Mc Kinley were other good fantasy writers who came of age like McKillip in the 70s. Evangeline Walton’s fantasy rendering of the Mabinogian, especially the first three of the four in the series, is simply amazing. Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirlees, classic and sensational, and if you want to go to the roots, Lord Dunsany’s two great novels, The Charwoman’s Shadow and The King of Elfland’s Daughter. There are a number of great classic tales as well in which the story telling and imaginative touches are amazing but you have to put up with overly ornate prose styles unfortunately–thinking here of William Morris, E.R. Eddison, and for horror in the HP Lovecraft vein, William Hope Hobson, but as I say, really tough slogging through their prose stylings. You gotta be the kind of fanatic I was in my late twenties and early thirties.
A very well realized recent fantasy novel, which is set in turn of the 20th C New York is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

I didn’t love Riddle Master, or really any McKillip that I’ve run across, but I strongly suspect that’s mostly due to being too young when I came across it. (Similar reaction to LeGuin’s Wizard of Earthsea books; I had a very different reaction to The Left Hand of Darkness, which I read in grad school and which blew my mind…).

I’ve loved Robin McKinley’s various fairytale retelling; she has a very soothing, engaging style, it seems to me. A contemporary author who does something similar and has been getting a lot of deserved plaudits is Naomi Novik, with Uprooted and Spinning Silver. (And her Aubrey-Maturin pastiche series, with the Maturin role being played by a dragon, is a lot of fun, too).

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

Recommendations from you guys sound much more intriguing than the so called Top 100 top fantasy lists online! What an enjoyable side track conversation heh

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

@Elaine Phua: During the seventies, in the after glow of LOTR, a gentleman named Lin Carter, who was an afficianado of classic Brit and American fantasy became the fantasy editor of Ballantine Books. He did wonderful prefaces, short story collections, and managed to get seriously good long dead and contemporary fantasy writers as well as pulp stars of recent yesteryear published. What occurred however is the whole field became troped out rather quickly, and GOT really is a bit of a throwback that emerged from all the miasmic faux middle ages sword and sorcery productions that still overwhelm the genre.
Most contemporary on line lists as with a great deal of K Drama listings have a recency bias. Do not get me started, for example, on how few folks who have not even heard about Chuno are raving about Bossam (not speaking of you Sean), or how almost no one but long time fans seem to be much aware of Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae in Secret Love Affair, only six years old.
There were a whole raft of great fantasy novels published in the seventies beyond the ones I have mentioned. However, as I have pointed out, one problem that seems ubiquitous among writers of fantasy is how many of them are such ornate prose stylists (the exact opposite of the hard boiled, just the facts, m’am, or absolute absence of any style, that flaws many detective novels) that one often one is susceptible to bogging down and giving up while reading them.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Thank you for the recommendations!

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Ahem, I was not a fan of the ending either, but my God, yours is so dark that I’m glad you weren’t the one writing this show! 😉
Anyway, if you feel inclined, look out for Ozzy Man on YouTube, his reviews were excellent (and hilarious, no profanities).

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

Dunno, once they turned Dany into a villain, what did it matter? She was the one that made you applaud from the very first time she appeared naked coming out of the fire with a bunch of baby dragons draped all over her. Instead they gave us this entirely whitewashed, completely unsatisfying ending. If they had gone the heroic route, I would have been up for that too, but they could not decide one way or the other and so decided to put pablum on the table and expect folks with eight years of Sunday night investments to cut them some slack for their indecisiveness.

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

I hear you; I was so so disappointed by the way they went with Daenerys. I mean, I love villains and all, and I thought the scene with her addressing her hordes, with Drogon’s wings just behind her was pretty cool, in a chilly sort of way, but I mean why?? Jon was also a disappointment, you have this dude embodying all that’s heroic, he’s the epitome of the hero trope and well, zero results. But I think we’ve taken too much space and time on GOT, sorry!

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

For all their logical and narrative shortcomings in the last 2-3 seasons, I do give them full props for some truly amazing cinematography and some absolutely thrilling scenes and episodes taken in isolation.

And that shot that you reference–

spoilers GoT S8Ep6
the dragon’s wings framing Dany at the top of the steps just before she delivers her unfiltered fascist Dragon Queen speech
–was one of those amazing shots.

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

Agreed. And, to be honest, for me it was only season 7 that was a let down. Season 6 for me was very, very good, including a few of my top10 favourite episodes.
Oh, and I am sorry I did not spoiler tag what I wrote, I didn’t even think of it. I apologize to anyone that hasn’t watched GOT and would like to watch it…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

I may be the only person who has not watched even 1 episode of GOT. Now I am glad I have not wasted my time 🤣😆😂

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Oh no, it is really worth it. Ok, the ending was a disappointment to some of the viewers, but the show is still really, really good. I am certain you would like it. Unless of course you have read the spoilers I have mindlessly posted above, in which case, I am so sorry!

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

Well

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Well

spoiler
Brando dies in his sleep
in the Godfather.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

No worries Natalie – 😄 I did read them but no biggie as I do not plan to watch GOT. I remember how upset my daughter and son-in-law were at the last episode. 🙄 As Sean suggests I may read the book.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Natalia

Even the final season up to the point where Arya

spoiler
takes down the White Walker King
show was fine; they just could not bring themselves to go either with a tragic end or one that boded well, and so the former
spoiler too
lacked the courage to go all the way with it
and the latter
spoiler 3
was so lacking in all possibility given the whole of show and the tragic ending preceding it that it distinctly felt like a bad seamster stiching it all together just to be done with it
.

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

There are at least two of us…

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Read the books, phl. I promise you will be mesmerised. But I am very biased when I say that. The imagery is masterful. I brought the first book when it first came out. I had it with me at work at the time and my colleague asked me if it was any good. I said to her it was like working in this place. She replied that she had better go and buy it then 😂

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

I picked up aGoT when it first came out, too. Believe it or not, I got it at a bookstore in downtown Sydney, where I was hanging out for a week on a business conference…

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

That was a good way to spend your time, Trent. I brought Dance when it was first released at the end of a national conference in North Queensland. It made for great reading on the flight home back across the other side of the continent.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

I was definitely obsessed for awhile. Endless hours spent speculating and arguing over the meaning and symbolism of Dany’s trip to the House of the Undying in bk. 2, etc. etc. This was long before the show was ever a thing…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Well Sean – as always, when you recommend something I pay attention. So, as you have recommended the books I shall get them on my Kindle. Appreciate this Sean.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Now I’m worried, phl 😂 I think though, you will recognise his incredible understanding of how the Game of Thrones works 😎

beez
1 month ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – fires that mean that you view your work as an epic adventure? I’m envious

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez, yes it has been an epic adventure. I started at the bottom, went sideways a few times and came out at the top. I am not sure it is all that envious despite many saying I should write a book about it all. I tend to pass on sage advice (and mentor) on what I have learnt instead.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

They certainly destroyed the great characters. As for Ashin of the North, that was a wow for me and Kingdom III promises to be awesome.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Yes BE, that was part 2 wrapped up with a bow and a hell of a great comment!

Glad you mentioned Yujin who is proving that he is more than a pretty face and a easy going laid back young man.

manukajoe
manukajoe
1 month ago

Thanks for the write up! Like others, I found these episodes more exciting and fascinating.
Ep 37 I was impressed with how Consort Jing sharp is with Xiao Xin! Claws out!
Ep 38 Finally we get to why Xia Jiang killed Prince Qi! Because he would have dismantled the Xuan Jing Bureau.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Joe – the look on her face when she turned around to face Xiao Xin was lethal. I am very glad that you enjoyed these episodes.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
1 month ago

Ah, Mei Changsu…Even in prison he still has the upper hand. I thought that he took the antidote before Xia Jiang showed up at his residence.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

On my first viewing of NIF last year, when MCS first emerged from his mansion and did that stare down with XJ, old Xia Jia barely wavering if you looked close and MCS looking like the movie star handsome Hu Ge really is (I suggest folks look up some of him not in a role on You Tube, the man is seriously movie star handsome, with serious artist/actor/star charisma), and then as he entered the Secret police compound and again they stare one another down, this time the expression on MCS’ face so thoroughly dismissive, and finally as the interview began and MCS just busting Xia Jiang’s chestnuts into smithereens, I thought to myself, oh ho, Xia Jiang, you have no idea, no effing idea, about what the frick you have just gotten yourself into. And despite everything that followed and the one occasion after another for deus ex bell saving, and from then on in to the very end of the show, I had no more anxiety about how this all was eventually gonna work out. From that point on when I first watched the show, “ah, Mei Changsu” indeed!

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

I thought that too, or that he swapped the pills, but he does look pretty ill by the end of episode 39… Unless this is his own “personal” illness acting up after two days in the dungeons.

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 month ago

NIF drinking game: take a shot of baijiu every time a character says “the Emperor has a suspicious nature”…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  j3ffc

j3ffc – you crack me up! 🤣😀😁😃😄😆😂 We would all be too wasted to type.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago

Actually I read Prince Ji’s discomfort as being due not so much to his fear of the Emperor, I thought their brotherly relationship was not bad. He was uncomfortable because he knew the political turmoil his accusation would create. Also he had to stand in court for a really long time! He just wanted to hide away from all the conflict and relax in his own house. But I agree that his happy-go-lucky frivolous persona is really a front.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Ah Prince Ji, my favorite bon vivant in the empire. The fella has the whole thing wired, all the privileges, none of the drama, whatta life!

Natalia
Natalia
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I actually think he is what he seems. And to be honest, if I had to chose between being the Emperor, with all his responsibilities and worries, and a Grand Prince that gets to live idly in wealth, I would kill to be the second rather than the first!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago

Ah, this set of episodes was very very gripping indeed. MCS using Yu Jin’s existing friendship with Prince Ji to recruit him as the eyewitness was another stroke of brilliance. Prince Ji is trusted implicitly by the Emperor, as your mother mentioned he has been unthreatening and also has a good personal relationship with the Emperor. He is also senior enough – the uncle to the princes and the Emperor has no worries that Prince Ji would take sides in the fight for the throne. He is the perfect witness, trusted and impartial!

Trent
1 month ago

Oh man, that whole one-on-one confrontation between MCS and Xia Jiang was so so good. I mean, if you don’t care for your dramatic tension to be delivered via back and forth dialogue, fair enough, but otherwise, what a great set of scenes. MCS absolutely radiated a whole “F— you” vibe as he serenely laid it all out for Xia Jiang, secure in the knowledge that it didn’t matter.

As for the (literal) poison pill, I keep having the thought that the pill MCS swallowed before being taken was an actual antidote to whatever Xia Jiang forced down his throat, and that MCS being the very foresighted fellow that he is, actually anticipated the possibility. That would mean he either has a powerful all-purpose antidote, or he has enough intel about Xia Jiang’s methods to know this particular trick and the actual poison Xia Jiang is likely to rely on. MCS being MCS, I wouldn’t put it past him. Now, I could be off the mark here, but I will be watching to see how he manages to evade this one…

All in all, this is a very impressive reversal of fortune that our heroes have managed to engineer over the last 5-6 episodes, where Xia Jiang and Prince Yu really seemed to hold all the cards, to Xia Jiang in a cell in manacles and Prince Yu with blood running down his face due to the Emperor’s displeasure.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

I think the bottle looked the same as the “heart protection pills” he had gifted to Jingrui for his birthday (for daddy Zhuo Dingfeng to use). But it does seem MCS was aware of the top-secret toxin, when Xia Jiang first mentioned it MCS commented with what he knew about the poison.

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

I’m a first-timer, so no spoilers possible here! Didn’t MCS take a little berry from the plant that Fei Liu was playing with before heading down to the Big House? I think he switched it out with the poison pill when Big Bad turned his back to him.

Trent
1 month ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Ooh, sneaky. That could be right!

(I’m also a first-timer, so I don’t know the right answer…)

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I believe this will only be a question phl1rxd can answer after next week’s watch.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

BE – I am so swamped right now it is sad. Football season has started and I am getting seriously bombarded. It is my heaviest time of year. I got hit with a rush Media Guide on top of everything else and had to pull 2 all nighters – trust me they paid me premium.

MCS took one of his special pills before leaving the house to go to the Bureau to fortify his strength – these are the pills he left Langya Hall with, and they are made especially for him by Lin Chen.

The Wujin pill is black and MCS pills (from Lin Chen) are red as were the berries. As Elaine states above, MCS’ pills look very similar to the the pills given to Jingrui – I will have to dig to see if they are.

I wish MCS had taken the berry or one of his special pills!

I hope this is what you are looking for. I am trying to get caught up with work so hopefully by tomorrow I can catch last week’s post and this week’s post.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Professional American football media guide author, salsa savant, and number 1 Nifty on the great K FanGurl blogsite group watch. Is this an amazing site and set of posts, or what?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

BE – Most of my work is in sports but especially Football – it is a holdover from when my son played. Retiring from it soon as I can longer get up and down the sidelines like I use to. Now as to the Salsa – that is pure joy and a pleasure. Yes, we are a diverse and well mannered group and it is lovely to spend time with everyone. Fangurl has made it all possible. 😍 This is my happy place.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

BE & Elaine – To add to my reply, I cannot find anything specific to the red pill MCS took prior to going to the Bureau being the same as the heart pills given to Jingrui. I had wondered if these were the same. The bottles are similar – MCS’ is brown while Jingrui’s was red.

So I went back to Chapter 86 (right before the Un-birthday party). Jingrui’s ‘heart pills’ are introduced as Li Gang walks into MCS’ room with the bottle (containing 1o heart pills) on a tray which where just delivered (does not specify from where or who made them) to the mansion.

Their conversation was mostly about whether or not to use the jade bottle the pills came in (which was hand carved by Great Master Huo and very costly) or to transfer to a plain bottle (which Li Gang did).

I have to conclude that MCS’ pills are specifically formulated for him by genius physician (and nemesis of Fei Liu) Lin Chen. I found nothing to support them being the same as Jinrui’s heart pills even though the pills look so similar.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  kfangurl

The berries on the plant were red, but the one from the bottle a darker color, I believe.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

I thought MCS would have used sleight of hand to switch the poison pill to something harmless. He spent so much time playing with the pill while Xia Jiang extemporized. But given how ill he seems by episode’s end I think he did eat the real poison pill! After all there would be no way for him to prepare a decoy beforehand since he wouldn’t know what the actual pill looks like even if he had heard about it.

He probably took the pill beforehand to help his body withstand the rigours of imprisonment and torture.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

You are exactly correct Elaine!

Last edited 1 month ago by phl1rxd
BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Between your comment, Elaine’s, and your affirmation of hers, I think I get it and appreciate the clarification. The pill MCS takes ahead of going into the interrogation with Xia Jiang is one of the strengthening pills given him by Lin Chen near the beginning of show, which he takes in order to fortify his effort and keep him healthy through whatever Xia Jiang throws at him. Dr. Lin Chen’s Magic Plant Elixer Tar Tonic pills, in other words. And thus, when shown the Wujin pill and asked to surmise what it might contain by old lead gravel throat, MCS’ speculative comment that it might be a tonic has not only the humorous edge of sarcasm written into it (deftly punctuated was it not by the shift scene to Emperor cracking up laughing) but a bit of dramatic irony heightening its meaning as well. The original is not, however, taken in anticipation of being poisoned or as a preemptive antedote to the Wujin poison. And so, at the end of 39, we are in fact truly in the dark about whether or not MCS can survive and if so how. That is correct sports fans, our Man in Liang is in serious doo doo. The whereabouts for the only known antedote to Wujin poison is currently in locked vault of Xia Jiang’s dungeon like brain. Now that is not to deny from my perspective at this point, when it comes to beating MCS before all his goals are accomplished you can forget about it, He is, absolutely, The Mei Changsu, whose names all the show’s villains cry out as their own heartbreaking epithet for their own downfalls. But yeah, knowing what I know, that makes perfect sense to me.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

Old lead gravel throat – here here! The voice over artist who did Xia Jiang managed to get all the nasty and the nuances just perfect!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Also Elaine – I loved the way MCS played for additional time by bringing in certain topics into the conversation to distract Xia Jiang’s attention on the fact that he still had the pill in his hand. MCS was smart enough to bring up the right issues. He toyed with that pill like he was toying with Xia Jiang.

When the Wujin pill was forced down his throat by Xia Jiang, my heart leapt with fear.

BE
BE
1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

The old grab him by the face, hold open the mouth, drop the pill down, slam shut from the jaw, and coax down the throat maneuver. Aka: The Nyah Hah Hah!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
1 month ago
Reply to  BE

🤣😅😂