Flash Review: Nirvana In Fire 2: The Wind Blows In Chang Lin [China]

Y’know, it’s tough being a sequel.

Everyone wants you to be everything. You need to be as good as the original; faithful to the original; not too different from the original; not too similar to it either. You need to be the same, yet different; faithful, yet fresh. That’s a tall order.

It’s even more challenging when the original is Nirvana In Fire, which is a drama that ruined me for all other dramas for a good long while, when I first finished watching it. It was so brilliantly written, so wonderfully acted, so beautifully produced (if you haven’t yet watched it, drop everything and watch it!), that when I heard that there was going to be a follow-up series, all I could think was, How does one follow an act like that? Talk about the tallest of tall orders.

So the million-dollar question is, does Nirvana In Fire 2 manage to fulfill all the criteria of a good sequel? I’m gonna say, Yes. It did an admirable job.


Here’s a small selection of tracks from the OST, in case you’d like to listen to them while you read the review.


I’ve had several people ask me this question, so I thought it’d be good to include the answer in this review.

Basically, this second season takes place in the same drama world as Nirvana In Fire, but because the story carries on 2 generations after the first season, there is a complete change in cast. However, there are references to the first season’s events and characters, as well as the occasional Season 1 flashback, from time to time.

The current cast of characters is related to the cast of the first season, so you could say that this is a direct continuation of Season 1, except that there is a 2-generation time-skip after Season 1. [MINOR-ISH SEASON 1 SPOILER] The main characters in Season 2, are the sons of Ting Sheng, who in turn was the boy who was rescued by Mei Changsu (Hu Ge) in the first season, and eventually adopted by Prince Jing (Wang Kai). [END SPOILER]

This season is also written by Hai Yan, and I would say even though I feel Season 1 surpasses Season 2 in many ways, it’s a very solid second season; worth watching especially for fans of Season 1.

STACKING UP IN BROAD STROKES: writing, pacing, cinematography, acting, etc.

Coming from the same team that gave us Season 1, it’s not surprising that everything in this season feels polished and of high quality, from the sets, to costuming, to the writing and acting. The general style of Season 1 is present, but it’s clear to see that Season 2 is its own beast.

Like Season 1, we start our story with Lang Ya Hall, but unlike Season 1, this story doesn’t start where our central strategist is working towards justice. This story starts at the very beginning, when betrayal hasn’t happened yet. This, for me, is one of the key things that makes the watch experience feel very different compared to my watch experience of Season 1.

The benefit to showing us the story from the beginning, I feel, is that it gets me more invested in the eventual betrayal of our characters. Even as Show led us on the slow road towards that betrayal, I felt like I was getting to know these characters. Because of this, I feel that when the betrayal actually happened, I felt it more directly, compared to if Show had allowed me to feel it vicariously through our main character Pingjing’s (Liu Haoran) emotions.

Also, because Season 2 introduces fewer characters right away, I felt like Season 2 was easier to get a foothold on, compared to Season 1, where I floundered for about 4 episodes, before I felt more able to place characters and how they were related. With Season 2, I didn’t feel confused in the beginning, and I felt quite nicely engaged; that’s not a bad thing at all.

On the downside, though, I have to confess that Season 2 was a slow burn for me. To put it bluntly, Season 2 is far less gripping than Season 1, particularly in the first half. In fact, the pace of the first half of our story feels slightly languid, even, in the sense that time is given, for things to build.


Like I said, this season was a slow burn for me. With Season 1, I’d felt sucked in very early, within the first few episodes. With Season 2, I spent a long time feeling like we were in set-up mode, just waiting for Something to happen. The story feels steady and solid, but it still feels like set-up.

Because of the different angle that this story adopts, we get to see a lot of plotting by Bad People, and we also see the Bad People achieve a good amount of success, before the tide turns. This did wear on me, and, truth be told, if I hadn’t been so invested in Season 1, I might not have managed to persevere.

BUT. I must say that persevering was completely worth it.

This show somehow took root in my heart when I wasn’t looking, and in the later episodes, I suddenly became cognizant of the fact that I was finally enjoying this show properly. This show felt meaty and satisfying, and I found myself feeling distinctly wistful that I was getting to the end.

Long story short: I’m glad I hung in there, despite the slow burn. I hope you guys hang in there too.


Generally speaking, I thought Season 2 was polished and solid, but there were a couple of things which I felt didn’t work in its favor.

The addition of the magicky stuff

Season 2 adds the element of mysticism and is therefore more magicky than Season 1. I personally didn’t like that so much.

To my eyes, it felt like Season 2 was grasping for something to make itself as interesting as Season 1, and decided on magic. Unfortunately, for me, all the sorcery and creepy magicky preparations made Season 2 feel like Season 1’s unorthodox, willful cousin, which just isn’t quite as brilliant, no matter how hard it tries.

It generally feels a little less refined

Picked the Empress as the obvious poster child for being the opposite of refined. Coz she was so petty and so petulant, ugh.

To me, Season 2 feels solid, but not masterful. On both the writing and acting fronts, I felt that Season 1 topped Season 2, and noticeably so.

I guess that’s what happens when you’ve already used the top tier of actors in the industry, and can’t use them again in the same franchise since all their characters are either dead or way too old to be played by the same actor. Also, even though this season shares the same writer in Hai Yan, I would guess that it’s hard to produce a second masterpiece, basically on demand.

I don’t know what kind of production pressures this crew faced, but I spotted what I thought was a rather sizable oversight, in episode 25. [SPOILER] In episode 25, Pingzhang removes his garment to ready himself for the procedure to save Pingjing. But, there is no sign of a scar, even though Pingzhang nearly died of a major arrow wound to his chest in the early episodes. [END SPOILER] That’s an oversight I didn’t expect of this production team.

One (pretty) important thing not explained [MAJOR SPOILER]

In the first major arc of our story, Big Bad Puyang Ying (Guo Jingfei) wreaks havoc by unleashing a plague in Jinling, because of how he, as a youth, had previously been unable to escape a plague because Jinling had kept its borders shut. That part I get, even though it takes some rationalizing.

What I don’t get, is why Puyang Ying targets Pingzhang (Huang Xiaoming) specifically. I mean, if Pingzhang dies, Pingjing will be appointed Heir of Chang Lin in his place, so systemically it feels like not quite a dent in the overall scheme of things? And yet, we are shown that Puyang Ying has a specific target in Pingzhang, and will not rest until Pingzhang dies. It bugged me that Show doesn’t provide a good reason for this, and we have to assume that it’s just because Puyang Ying is a delusional crazy person. That.. is not a very solid nor satisfying reason, for such a big plot point.


Liu Haoran as Xiao Pingjing

I am officially impressed with Liu Haoran, you guys.

But first, let me back up. Pingjing starts the story as a carefree youth who is outspoken, impetuous, and even a little brash. At times, I wondered about Pingjing’s lack of decorum and manners, since he grew up in a military household. So for a start, I was not terribly impressed with Pingjing as a character.

Over the course of our story, however, Pingjing grows up a great deal. He has to face a whole lot of loss and heartbreak, as well as immense pressures from the court, and this is when I sat up and really took notice. Because, Liu Haoran just kills it, as older-and-wiser Pingjing. Liu Haoran was only about 19 or 20 when he filmed this show, and yet, in the later episodes, he plays Pingjing with such depth.

[SPOILER] I was watching episode 36 and thinking, times sure were different then; at such a tender young age, Pingjing is a general who’s led thousands of men in battle, and he needs to grapple with such heavy issues of life, death and the court. And then I remember that Liu Haoran is only about 19 while playing Pingjing, and yet, he brings out the depth of Pingjing’s emotion and struggle, and he gives Pingjing’s role as a general the weight and gravitas that a general needs, as much as he brings out Pingjing’s youth. [END SPOILER]

It’s very impressive indeed, and I am officially wowed.


Here are a handful of Pingjing highlights, that stood out for me.

E31. In Show’s early episodes, Pingjing sometimes even came across as clueless and presumptuous, but in episode 31, it’s clear to see that Pingjing is carrying himself differently than before. Now, there is a strength in his jaw and determination in his gaze, which make him feel more grown up and mature, and a little bit fierce. I really liked this change.

E34. The way Pingjing addresses his soldiers is so heartfelt and noble. I can feel their loyalty and allegiance resonating through my screen. In the same episode, when Pingjing is caught between disobeying royal decree, or losing the chance of a lifetime to secure peace for the border, he doesn’t hesitate for more than a microsecond. The way he chooses peace for the border, even at risk of his own life, with so much conviction in his voice and his gaze, is just moving, inspiring stuff.

E37. Pingjing shows a lot of grace, in the face of the verdict that Grand Secretary Xun (Bi Yanjun) delivers. It’s terrible timing, clearly the result of political scheming, and the old man is obviously being two-faced, but even when Xun says infuriating things, Pingjing bears it all and accepts his punishment without complaint. I found that very gracious, and that showed me that Pingjing is very much the bigger man.

E37. The way Pingjing breaks down and cries in Lin Xi’s (Zhang Huiwen) arms is so heartbreaking. He’s kept so much bottled up, and most of all, the sense of guilt, coupled by the heavy sense of responsibility, is just crushing his soul. Add on the fact that he’s just lost his father, and is basically a victim of politicking, and it’s just all too much. His grief is palpable through my screen and my heart bleeds for him.

E40. Pingjing analyzing the battle records and finding that it doesn’t make sense. No one else in the Liang court has noticed, except for General Yue (Jin Zehao), whom we are introduced to this episode. I do love that Pingjing is a talented and smart cookie. Plus, we are told that if not for his ties to his country and the likelihood that he will return to it, he would have made the Langya List. That’s world-domination levels of impressive.

E41. I know more serious things are happening this episode, but on a fangirly note, dang, Pingjing suddenly looks sexy to me. The way he gently flirts with Lin Xi with that knowing gaze. And also, the meaningful gaze he wears, while having that multilayered cloak-and-daggers conversation with Yuanqi (Wu Haochen). I was very much distracted – and rather taken – by how Pingjing suddenly looked so sexy to my eyes. Dang. I mean, Liu Haoran was only 19 or 20 when filming this! Where does he dig it up from? *hearts in eyes*

Eee! Flail. Thud.


The loveline between Pingjing and Lin Xi

Fans who found the romantic loveline in Season 1 too muted would be pleased that the loveline in Season 2 enjoys more screen time and a greater focus. That said, this loveline is also of the slow burn variety, so don’t expect lots of fireworks either.

The upside to this loveline being such a slow burn, is that the connection betwen Pingjing and Lin Xi (Zhang Huiwen) feels like it’s organically grown. Over the course of our story, these two develop a friendship which then eventually gently progresses into something more. A lot of the time, their connection remains more unspoken and implicit, but through their actions, their growing care for each other is clear to see. His growing openness with her, and her growing appreciation of him, were lovely to witness.

I started out feeling rather neutral about this loveline, but ended up sincerely moved by the way these two loved each other.


Here are my favorite OTP highlights:

E20. That scene where Pingjing searches Lin Xi’s face, when they are talking about the epidemic, is pretty intense. This is the first time I felt a deeper connection between our OTP.

E21. In the face of possible death, the feelings between Lin Xi and Pingjing become clearer, as they each allow more of their true feelings to show. That was gratifying to witness.

E24. Lin Xi being willing to sacrifice herself for Pingjing’s sake, is very touching. She won’t actually get to do so, but she is absolutely serious about being willing to die so that he might live, and that is no small deal.

E33. I really appreciate the conversation that Pingjing and Lin Xi have this episode. He’s been avoiding having a conversation with her about what happened with Pingzhang, and instead of continuing to avoid it, he goes to see her, and they have this amazing conversation, where he tells her that she’s his most precious friend in the world, and asks if she would be patient with him a little longer. And she, when he shamefacedly says that he’s weak and chose the easy way out, defends him to himself, telling him that in choosing to tend to his responsibilities, he did not choose the easy way out, and instead, was demonstrating a type of courage. Augh. And then she tells him not to lose focus with a battle at hand, but that, when he’s ready to talk about it, she will always be there, ready and waiting. AUGH.

Such a wonderfully honest conversation, where they are so vulnerable with each other, and so supportive and understanding. They do know what the other is thinking and feeling. I love that they are able to acknowledge all of this, without feeling the need to take the conversation further right away. It feels so healthy and so.. space-giving and respectful. I love it. <3

E38. I appreciate how Pingjing says that he has no reason to want to try to change Lin Xi, and I love how he offers to go with her, on her future travels.

E43. Aw. I do enjoy the scene where Lin Xi finally tells Pingjing her identity, that she is his betrothed. And I do love that he asked her to marry him before she told him, and I so love that he asked her in such a gentle and respectful manner. Seeking her permission, to allow him to stay by her side, for the rest of their lives. I swoon. <3

E46. I am so moved by the love between Pingjing and Lin Xi. It feels mature and deep; it endures over time, and isn’t light or fleeting. They love each other, and deeply want to spend their lives together, but they also each have a deep grasp on their sense of self. Pingjing knows that he must go back to Jinling to save the Emperor (Hu Xianxu), and Lin Xi knows that she will always love him and wait for him, but that she would never be able to completely change herself for his sake, if he chooses to stay on in the capital.

What a poignant and bittersweet request Lin Xi makes, in view of Pingjing’s return to Jinling; that it’s ok even if they never meet again (though she believes that he will always find her no matter where he goes), just as long as he stays safe. Their love for each other is palpable, and so is their grace and understanding for each other. It’s moving stuff, and my heart aches and is moved, at the same time. So. Good.


Sun Chun as Grand Prince Xiao Tingsheng

In Show’s second third, I suddenly realized that I really loved Grand Prince of Chang Lin.

This took me somewhat by surprise, since I’d started the show feeling relatively neutral about him. By Show’s mid-point, though, it became clear to me that he consistently speaks with deep gravitas and conviction, and uses both wisdom and heart in equal measure, and always feels so balanced and worthy of all the respect, that I couldn’t help but love and respect him too, and root for him, all of the time.


Here are the Grand Prince moments that left the deepest impression on me:

E28. That moment, when the Emperor (Liu Jun) holds the Grand Prince’s hand and addresses him as 哥哥 (older brother), I legit teared up. That moment felt so raw and honest. In the midst of politicking and decorum, the Grand Prince was literally the only person around whom the Emperor felt free to be himself, and in his final moments, in wanting to be in his brother’s arms – and not his wife’s or son’s – and in calling out 哥哥 instead of the more formal 王兄 (Royal Brother), it feels like the Emperor is stripping away everything else, and just calling for his brother, in yearning, in wistfulness, and in earnestness. Augh. My heart. I felt this moment hit me like a ton of bricks.

E35. Grand Prince has so much wisdom and foresight. Even though it is his son who is at stake, he knows that gathering ministers to support Pingjing would do more harm than good in the long run, and he abstains from action. How much self-control must that take, for a father who loves his son?

And what a moving, loving welcome Grand Prince gives Pingjing, when Pingjing returns. Telling Pingjing that what he achieved was something that neither he nor Pingzhang were able to do, even though they very much wanted to; telling Pingjing that both he and Pingzhang are proud of him; that the previous Emperor would be proud of him. Such a salve for sore ears, and it’s clear to see in Pingjing’s tearful gaze, that it is, more than that, a salve for his soul. The embrace between father and son is so moving to behold, it’s so full of love and conviction, yet tinged with a helplessness at the context in which this great achievement rests.

E36. OMG I love the Grand Prince. He’s so dignified and wise, and devoted and selfless. I love how he shows his love for not only Pingjing, but also the Emperor and his nation, in this episode. He pushes himself to attend court when he’s literally close to his deathbed, and he still carries himself with such regality and propriety and stateliness. Even when his body is running out of time, he speaks in strong, measured tones, and makes sure his words enjoy the time that matches their weightiness. That is just so regal and admirable.

I love too, that he speaks from his heart, not only with compassion and foresight for his nation, but also, with love for his son. His last moment in court, where he grasps Pingjing’s hand and speaks on his behalf, allowing the facts to speak for themselves, feels so momentous and meaningful. There is clearly no guile in him, and his upright standing is clear to see. And at the same time, his father’s heart is also so clear to see. He speaks until he literally collapses, which means that he is literally willing to devote his life to his country to his last breath. How moving is that?

E37. The Grand Prince’s final moments with Pingjing literally brought tears to my eyes. So much grace and wisdom, in the way he carries himself, even to the very last. The way he told Pingjing that he was proud of him, the way he released Pingjing of any lingering burden, to take care of everyone and everything, it’s so lovely and so giving. And the way Pingjing cried in his father’s arms, is so heartwrenching as well.


The relationship between Pingzhang and Xiaoxue

One of the things I really enjoyed in this show, is the portrayal of the marriage relationship between Pingzhang and Xiaoxue (Tong Liya). There is decorum, just like in other marriage relationships that are portrayed, but there is also genuine affection, gentle ribbing, open conversation, and a whole lot of tenderness.

Watching them, I genuinely believe that they are deeply in love with each other, and care for each other greatly. I wish more dramas would allow their character relationships to be showcased this way.


Here are some of my favorite highlights featuring this couple:

E9. The way Pingzhang holds Xiaoxue and comforts her, as she grieves the knowledge of why she has not been able to conceive all these years, is so gentle and loving.

E24. The final scene of Xiaoxue and Pingzhang saying their possible last words to each other, pledging to be married to each other for eternity, is so very moving.

E26. Pingzhang choosing to sacrifice himself for his brother and his father is very much in character. Importantly, this was a joint decision of the couple, rather than a decision that Pingzhang made on his own, and I found the way they arrived at that joint decision very moving indeed. If Xiaoxue had truly wanted it, Pingzhang would have chosen to save himself at the cost of his brother’s life, but she is wise enough to know that this decision would haunt him forever afterwards. How courageous and gracious, is her decision to support Pingzhang in his decision to save Pingjing, even though she knows that it will cost him his life, and her, her husband. Augh.

And how fitting, that she would then choose to go into battle with him, even as he goes knowing that he will die on the battleground. This is the truest and highest expression of her love for him, and I am truly moved. <3

Shout-out to Xiaoxue for also being such a badass female warrior. I love her. <3


The brotherhood between Pingzhang and Pingjing

This is one of the major relationships in our story, and I must say that the deep love between Pingzhang and Pingjing moved me. Even though they are different in so many ways, there is a mutual care and respect between them that shows through again and again. These two would literally die for each other, and that’s just the kind of stuff that gets me right in the heart.


The thing that took me by surprise, is the revelation in episode 13, that Pingzhang is adopted, and he and Pingjing aren’t blood brothers. The subsequent scene between Pingzhang and Pingjing, is heart-tuggingly sweet. Pingzhang’s kind gaze, upon the wayward little brother who’s confused and scared. And Pingjing’s little-boy gaze, anxious for his big brother’s trust in his word, that nothing’s changed just because Pingzhang’s adopted.

Guh. I love that they consciously – without the need to even pause to think about it – refuse to let the lack of blood relation dilute their brotherhood. If anything, it almost feels like they love each other even more fiercely, to make up for it.

Later in the show, we see that both brothers are literally willing to die for each other. Pingzhang actually does give up his life for his little brother, but when Pingjing wakes up and realizes what’s happened, he fiercely contends that he would have much rather been the one to die.

Even after Pingzhang’s death, Pingjing continues to be faithful to the memory of his brother. He takes on Pingzhang’s military duties, and basically attempts to live his brother’s life for him, as far as possible. It’s clear to see that even in death, their brotherhood cannot be broken. How deeply moving. <3



Huang Xiaoming as Xiao Pingzhang

This was my introduction to Huang Xiaoming, so I have no preconception of his acting prowess. I did hear that C-netizens were not pleased with his casting in Season 2, and some even declared that they would not watch Season 2 because he was in it.

I’d say that overall, Huang Xiaoming did a very decent job as Pingzhang. He plays Pingzhang as stoic, measured and thoughtful, and because of that, his more limited acting range did not pose much of a problem, I felt. In fact, there were many occasions in Show’s earlier stretch where I found Pingzhang regal and imposing; both very good things.

It was only at around the episode 15 mark that I first found myself finding fault with Huang Xiaoming’s delivery. I felt like his interpretation of Pingzhang seemed to be stuck in a rut, so to speak. Basically, I felt like he almost always had Pingzhang wearing one particular expression, which I could call studied, with the slightest squint, and the slightest purse of the lips. Yes, that does look suitable, but when that’s almost the only expression he ever wears, it starts to get old.

Ultimately, Huang Xiaoming’s delivery didn’t tank Pingzhang as a character for me, and I do feel that he did a reasonably solid job. I.. would’ve loved it if he could’ve done better.

Bi Yanjun as Grand Secretary Xun

I’ll admit, there were times during the show where I wanted to throttle Grand Minister Xun for being stubborn and thickheaded.

But, I just wanted to put it out there, that Grand Secretary Xun is not an evil person. He truly does believe that everything he does is for the good of the country. He’s not spiteful or petty, even though sometimes his behavior seems unreasonable. He’s actually consistently acting out of a place of loyalty to his country. [SPOILER] So in removing the power of Chang Lin, he had no evil intentions specifically towards Pingjing. That’s a contrast to the Empress Dowager (Mei Ting), who seems to truly hate Pingjing and want bad things for him. Additionally, in episode 43, when doubt is cast on Yuanqi , Grand Secretary Xun doesn’t dismiss it straightaway, but considers the possibilities carefully. [END SPOILER]

Therefore, in spite of the aggravation that he sometimes brought to our story, I didn’t actually hate him.

Wu Haochen as Xiao Yuanqi [SPOILERS]

I actually appreciate that at the beginning of our story, Yuanqi is far from being the villain that he turns out to be. In fact, Yuanqi is the one who sticks out his neck in an early episode, to help protect innocent physicians from Ji Feng Hall, from being arrested and killed.

In episode 13, Yuanqi even resists the poisonous words that Puyang Ying and Marquis Mozi (Cheng Taishen) sow. He defends the verdict that his father was guilty, and insists that the previous emperor was gracious in allowing he and his mother to live as relatives of royalty. But, Yuanqi’s weak-minded, and more power-hungry than probably even he himself thought, and eventually gives in to the dark side. By the end of our story, Yuanqi is fully delusional, and wields a cruel and twisted power over those who serve him.

I’d say that Yuanqi made a reasonably good villain, since there were a good number of occasions when his actions really grated on me, and I couldn’t wait for him to be dealt some good ol’ justice.

Props to Wu Haochen, who made Yuanqi believable in every stage of his character’s journey, from wide-eyed earnest innocent, to bloodlusty cruel villain. I believed him every step of the way, and that’s no small accomplishment, for a character journey so varied.


First of all, I need to put into context that I’m thinking of the ending as Show’s last 4 episodes, rather than simply episode 50. For a show of this length, there are many things to resolve and wrap up, and in order for this to be done in a satisfactory manner, time is needed. When I think of the ending as simply episode 50, I find that it feels a little anticlimactic, because by episode 50, a fair bit of the action has already taken place. But, when I think of the ending as episodes 47 through 50, it feels so solid, so satisfying, and so right.

I was most moved in episode 47, when I saw all of the previous subjects pledge their allegiance to the Prince of Chang Lin, one after the other. No hesitation over what that might mean for them personally, be it injury or death. Their loyalty is so full that it resonates and reverberates through my screen, and I feel like I can’t breathe; it’s just so deeply moving. All of the sacrifices and loyalty of the House of Chang Lin isn’t gone; it’s been held firmly all this time, in the hearts of those who have tasted it. Every time I saw the troops moving toward the Capital, with Pingjing in the lead, and the banner of Chang Lin flying in the wind, my heart squeezed with emotion, and the tears rose to my eyes.

Dang. Chills for days. It’s viscerally affecting, and I love it.

It’s late in the game, but this plot point caused me to feel in awe of writer Hai Yan all over again. These seeds had to be planted from the very beginning, and the resolution works so well, in an arena where our hero looks like he has no way out. And yet, his way out is presented as a fruit of all that he and his family has poured out, in the many years prior. Augh. So good.

Through it all, I am completely taken by the fact that Pingjing’s gaze is so strong and unwavering. It’s not aggressive or wild, only steady and strong, like a rock that will not be moved, and I love it.

In the end, we get an ending that feels true to these characters, which is something I appreciate very much. At the same time, I felt like there were echoes of earlier events, in some parts of the finale. For example, Feizhan’s deep brush with death, and then being nursed back to life and health by a physician from Ji Feng Hall, reminds me so much of Pingzhang’s early-show brush with death.

Additionally, Pingjing being challenged to a fight in the throne room by Yuanqi, also reminds me of when the Northern Yan princess challenged him to a fight in that same room, earlier in the show. Pingjing prevails in both fights, because he’s just that skilled. The difference this time, is that there is absolutely no question about Pingjing’s intentions nor loyalty.

Afterwards, it feels bittersweet that Pingjing leaves the capital, but it’s comforting that it’s not portrayed as a forever kind of goodbye. He promises the emperor that if he’s needed, he will come back to help his country at any time. And his farewell with Feizhan is also of the “see you later” variety, although “later” is a word that I use loosely.

Still, this departure feels true to Pingjing’s character; he never did consider himself cut out for the court. He’s a free spirit – albeit a deeply talented one, who’s an asset in any battle – and he’s learned that living his brother’s life will never make him, or his brother, truly happy. I teared a bit on the inside, when Pingjing said his goodbye to his brother at Pingzhang’s grave. It’s poignant, but true; he needs to let go, so that Pingzhang can let go too. He needs to live in peace, so that his brother can rest in peace.

As Pingjing leaves Jinling behind and rides into the distance, it feels like a moment of liberation for him. He’s finally done all that he feels he needs to do, and is now free to live led only by his passion and his principles.

It’s bonus that we get to see Pingjing reunite with Lin Xi, and witness their promise of forever to each other, as they ride off into the sunset together. I found their reunion sweet and well-earned. These two have been through so much while loving each other, and understanding and waiting for each other. I imagine that they will live happily together, gathering herbs, healing and helping people, and loving each other, for a long, long time to come.

In the meantime, I’m heartened to know that the name of Chang Lin has been reinstated, and that the army will always bear that name, regardless of its commanding officer. Long live Chang Lin, and everything that it stands for. <3


A slower burn than I would like, but ultimately so solid, moving and satisfying, that it’s worth the wait.




A subbed Pingjing x Lin Xi cut:

79 thoughts on “Flash Review: Nirvana In Fire 2: The Wind Blows In Chang Lin [China]

  1. poe

    Wonder if anyone would help read n translate the part of letter that Yuanqi burn at eps 15 min 40-ish? 🙂

  2. Pingback: Flash Review: The Story Of Minglan [China] | The Fangirl Verdict

  3. Nao

    Hi!!! Just wanted to add that I finished re-watching NIF2 for the second time and agree with all of your points! Before this re-watch, I also watched NIF for the third time, so the points of comparison are close in my mind. I enjoyed NIF2 very much the first time, and this second time I was struck by how much darker and violent it is – with the battle scenes and the martial arts seemingly more prominent. I found myself having to cover my eyes quite a few times. However, that said, the show clearly belongs to Liu Haoran. My first watch I liked all the actors, but this second time I found Huang Xiaoming more limited and wooden, and even Lin Xi a bit expressionless (but maybe that’s just her character?). Ping Jing and Xiao Tingsheng were great as ever, and it was really for their characters that I kept going. I want to start Novoland Eagle Flag soon, and am wondering if you plan to review that one???

  4. Richard Nguyen

    Just finished Nirvana 1 and 2 and saw this amazing indepth review here. Much of what I would have said has already been covered. What it boils down to me is that Nirvana 1 was a more engaging and smartly written series. However, its emotions were more muted, with only a handful of heart wrenching moments. Nirvana 2 suffers a poorer plot, but is infinitely more intimate than Nirvana 1, such that their love, pain and sacrifices are so much more powerful. As a guy, I’m not ashamed to admit I cried so much watching Nirvana 2. It just had so much more heart than Nirvana 1, in part because the Chang Lin household was such a great, noble, and loving family. You cannot help but admire and love them.

    Bottom line: You will probably brisk through Nirvana 1 faster, but Nirvana 2 will make you feel more.

    Honorable Mentions: Many great points already covered, but I think Meng Qianxue was criminally underused. For someone who had relatively few scenes, she had some of the meatiest dramatic moments. I just love how Tong Liya portrayed her. There’s a scene where Feizhan rushed in to stop Pingzhang’s sacrifice and she pulled a sword and backed him off. No one wanted to stop Pingzhang more than her, but she knew it would crush his soul after. When she would Feizhan that the moment she married Pingzhang, she already knew what kind of man he was and what choices he would make. I died inside for her in that moment, seeing how faithful she was to her husband’s wishes even though it killed her. Toward the end of the series, when Feizhan asked her if she’s been well, she only answers him “it’s good that I have Ce’er (Pingzhang’s son)”. The weariness of her soul in that moment, so beautifully acted by Tong Liya, she didn’t say much but you can’t help but feel for her. These little moments, these little nuances, add up all over Nirvana 2 for all kinds of characters.

    Sorry, I got to rambling. I love these two series so much, but Nirvana 2 will always have a special place for me because it is a different beast from Nirvana 1. Nirvana 2 makes up for its shortcomings (for those looking for more Nirvana 1) by adding so much more feels.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Richard! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about NIF 1 & 2, I completely agree with you assessment that while NIF is excellently written and very exciting, it’s NIF 2 that manages to bring the feels to a whole other level. It’s a slow burn, but so worth it. I love that scene that you described, of when Meng Qianxue stopped Feizhan from interfering with Pingzhang’s plan, even though it killed her to do so. It was deeply moving indeed, and you’re so right, Tong Liya did a beautiful job of delivering the moment. I would have loved to have seen more of her character, but even from the small moments that we see her, she had such a deep impact on the story. <3

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  7. Simeon

    You finally reviewed NIF2!! I agreed with you on soooo many points in that I preferred NIF alot more than NIF2 (both were good but I’d still pick the first one) but I couldn’t really pinpoint why? Then I read your post and it all made sense LOL. Glad that you liked NIF2 though! Really enjoyed reading your posts as usual

    1. kfangurl

      Lol yes, I finally reviewed NIF2! It took me a good long while to finish watching it, since I was only watching about an episode a day! 😆 Hi5 that we feel similarly about NIF2, and thanks for enjoying this post! 😀 This was a much slower burn than NIF, where I found myself sucked in after just a handful of episodes. But this one sucked me in too, eventually. I felt so sincerely sorry when I entered the last stretch of episodes, at around the E40 mark, coz I didn’t want to get to the end. <3

      PS: This is your first time posting as Simeon! What a lovely name! <3

      1. Simeon

        Same! I wasn’t too invested at the start cuz I expected something more dramatic even though the pace did pick up quite a bit after. But at least the ending is a happy one!! HAHA yeah I was a little sad that it ended. But it’s a nice way to end off the NIF franchise, knowing that the MCS’s beloved Changlin Army is survived yet again.

        I totally forgot I changed the name HAHA! Thank you!!

        1. kfangurl

          OMG, I will always have a soft spot for MCS and the Changlin Army. <3 I need to rewatch NIF – but I'm afraid it'll ruin me again, for all other dramas! 😛

          1. Simeon

            Ever since Legend of Zhen Huan I’ve been unconsciously comparing every other harem drama to it lol. Thankfully I dont watch political war dramas as frequently but I can see myself comparing every other drama to NIF. We’re ruined for life 😥

            1. kfangurl

              Hahaha! I know what you mean. I’m not into harem dramas, but NIF has certainly set a very high bar for all other strategist type dramas. Everyone else loved Six Flying Dragons, but to my eyes, NIF is just so much better. 😛

                1. kfangurl

                  Hm.. Did you happen to watch kdrama Money Flower? I know it’s not quite the same type of drama, in that it’s modern, and it’s not about any kind of monarchy, but watching it, I definitely got Mei Changsu vibes from Jang Hyuk’s character. It wasn’t supposed to be a strategist drama, but it absolutely felt like one. And I thought the entire show was so well done too. I highly recommend it, if you haven’t seen it! 🙂

                  1. Simeon

                    I’ve read your review on it I think? I remember really really wanting to watch it but somehow never getting around to it. Damn my list of unwatched dramas just never end but I will definitely watch it when I can!! 😂

                    1. kfangurl

                      Yes, do! Even though it’s a modern day setting, people have remarked that it felt like they were watching a sageuk. I did, too – in the best possible way. 🙂

                    2. kfangurl

                      It is! I never thought I could love a revenge drama, but I ate up Money Flower with relish and never wanted it to end. Can’t wait to hear how you like it, when you do get to it! 😀

                    3. Simeon

                      Sounds like my cup of tea cuz I lap up revenge and politcal dramas theyre awesomeeee. I’m currently watching Kim’s Convenience and Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food atm, Kim’s Convenience is more western comedy but its really funny

                    4. kfangurl

                      Lol. Well if revenge is your cup of tea, then I can’t wait to hear how you like it when you do get to it! 😀 I’ve been hearing positive things about Kim’s Convenience Store.. I might need to check it out one of these days when I’m in the mood for something a little more western 😉

                    5. Simeon

                      I’ve just started on Money Flower haha its pretty interesting how they set it up…sort of like NIF.

                      It’s good for a light watch and a laugh too. There’s only 2 seasons at the moment but i want more 😥

                    6. kfangurl

                      Right?!? It’s got NIF vibes, even though it’s a completely different setting and story. Jang Hyuk’s character totally gave me Mei Changsu vibes too. I’m so happy you’ve started on it! Can’t wait to hear how you feel about it, after you’ve seen more of it! 😀

                      Kim’s Convenience Store is mentioned so often around me that I hafta admit my curiosity is piqued. I assume more seasons are coming? 🙂

                    7. Julianne Lin

                      Man you guys have definitely piqued my interest for Money Flower…I bookmarked the tab from Viki but have been reluctant to start it (still am), mostly because I haven’t really been in the mood. Something about kdramas vibes very very differently from cdramas. I think i went through a solid 2 year of complete immersion and obsession with kdramaland like, maybe 5 or so yrs ago…and then for some reason have basically dropped kdramaland very very completely ever since (I distinctly remember close to after Healer, and close to when Yoo Seung Ho went into the army, lol). The only drama I’ve watched and finished since then is Weightlifting Fairy (thx kfangurl lol).

                      Which is totally weird because I’ve still read most of the posts here on kdramas that I haven’t and have no intention of watching, lolol.

                    8. kfangurl

                      Oh! Maybe Money Flower would be worth dipping your toes into kdramaland again, Julianne! 😀 I personally think Money Flower is still very Korean in flavor and execution, but it’s very well done, and there is definitely a strategist vibe about it, and the way it vibes is somewhat more like a historical than a modern day drama. And Jang Hyuk is absolutely brilliant in his delivery. I personally highly recommend it! 😀

                      PS: Yay that you made an exception for Weightlifting Fairy! It really is a sweet one. <3

                    9. Julianne Lin

                      Yas! Probably over winter break. I’ve had a bias for Jang Hyuk since Chuno and Tree with Deep Roots…but also those 2 are prob the only 2 dramas of his that I’ve actually watched in full and are interested in (and prob Money Flower cuz I trust ur tastes lol, and sounds like a good setup).

                      I did end up kind of watching Descendants of the Sun at some point (I have a weakness for guys in uniform…) and I think I attempted K2 at some point for Ji Chang Wook, but I couldn’t handle the romance or Yoona’s character.

                      I also watched most of Moonlight Drawn by Clouds at some point, which I definitely really liked, but don’t ask me why idk either, I suddenly lost interest literally at like ep 15 or something and just never finished it.

                      Which is part of why I’ve lost faith in my ability to watch kdrama. Like, clearly I do like some of them, but for some undefined reason, I just rarely rarely end up finishing them…..

                    10. kfangurl

                      Ooh, if you have a bias for Jang Hyuk, then Money Flower is a must-see, Julianne! 😀 I always used to say that Chuno was Jang Hyuk most iconic work, but after seeing him in Money Flower, I have to wonder whether his performance in Money Flower is even more amazing than in Chuno 😛

                      I personally wasn’t super into DOTS or K2, but I did really like Moonlight Drawn By Clouds. In terms of something meaty and thoughtful that would be worth your time, I highly recommend My Mister. It’s a very different story, but it kind of reminds me of The First Half of My Life in terms of the restraint and elegance you see in the writing, characterization and overall execution. A really special snowflake of a kdrama, I’d say <3

                    11. Simeon

                      Didn’t get to continue after the first episode but will start again soon!!

                      It’s at season 2 on Netflix but I’ve read that they’ve signed for two more seasons. I’m excited though!

                    12. kfangurl

                      Simeon! Great to see ya! Happy new year, my dear! <3

                      Yes please, do give Money Flower a revisit, it's really good! My mom was reluctant to watch it, but I snagged her with the comparison to NIF and Mei Changsu, and the next thing I know, she's marathoned the whole thing and gave it her stamp of approval 😉 Of course, it isn't as amazing as NIF, but what show is, right? 😆

                      Glad your happy show is signed for 2 more seasons! Kim's is still on my vague "one day when I feel like a western show" list. 😉

                    13. Simeon

                      Happy New Year to you too!

                      Wow! Your mom likes NIF? That’s so cool. I will def try to catch it when I can. Have been so stuck on Netflix recently (mostly cause its convenient) so I keep forgetting. 😂

                    14. kfangurl

                      Oh yes, my mom LOVES NIF! She watched it 4 times, and can quote many minor scenes and details that I can’t recall – because I watched it only once, with a small revisit to the early eps. 😅 Yes, do make some time for Money Flower.. it’s worth the extra effort of not watching on Netflix, I promise! 😉

                    15. Simeon

                      Okay I’m at ep 21 for Money Flower now. Have so much I want to say but omg thanks for recommending this to me. I agree it’s not as amazing as NIF but it’ll be unfair to compare the two anyway. But yeah Money Flower is awesome

                    16. kfangurl

                      YAY!!! 😀 I’m SO happy that you’re loving Money Flower, Simeon!! It really is an excellent drama, isn’t it? And such consummate acting, especially by Jang Hyuk! 😍😍😍 I couldn’t look away, and was always torn between gobbling up all the available episodes, and saving them, so I wouldn’t run out of new eps! 😆

                    17. Simeon

                      Yes all of them were great especially Jang Hyuk. His micro expressions were spot on. Although for some reason the twistedness of the grandfather and Mal Ran didnt affect me as much? I find I’m getting quite immuned to seeing twisted characters in dramas 😂 Definitely will be on the lookout for more dramas like these

                    18. kfangurl

                      OMG Jang Hyuk had me completely mesmerized in Money Flower! 😍😍😍 And lol that Gramps and Mal Ran didn’t affect you much – I thought they were disturbing myself. I definitely don’t have your immunity! 😅 I’d love to see more dramas like Money Flower, but sadly I don’t think they are very easy to come by. 😛

                    19. Simeon

                      HAHA they definitely were disturbing but I think with Mal Ran especially, the acting was so beautiful that I can’t muster the disgust I’d normally feel for characters like her. Yeah I agree. Been searching for something similar to Money Flower when I realised it’s more similar to period harem dramas than modern day ones. Just wondering if you’ve seen Ghostwriter? It’s a j dorama but it’s psychological and has a similar vibe to Money Flower.

                    20. kfangurl

                      Oh yes, Lee Mi Sook made Mal Ran impossibly elegant even in her dysfunction, so Mal Ran was as fascinating as she was disturbing. Quite special, I thought. And yes, it’s hard to find dramas similar to Money Flower. It’s just so well done. And yes, I definitely felt that period vibe to it, as I was watching. Also, no, I haven’t seen Ghostwriter. I think I need to put it on my list! 😉

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there, I’m sorry to say that Shopping King Louie didn’t work for me. I managed about 3 eps or so, before I dropped out. I did write a quick blurb for it in my 2016 Year in Review (here), which you can take a look at. And in the comments you’ll find many others who loved the show who sincerely tried to convince me to give Louie another chance. If anything at all, at least you’ll find some kindred spirits? 😅

      1. Timescout

        You are very welcome! I like your pieces, so I always read them, even when I haven’t seen the drama in question. I may not always comment though. 🙂

  8. Julianne Lin

    Also, for all the Liu Hao Ran fans out there (I’m also long converted. In fact, Hu Ge remains my 男神, or ultimate god-like art-master because seriously, I went back to rewatch NiF1 and rewinded so many times to study his minute facial ticks and by god, Hu Ge is such a masterful actor…like he somehow conveyed so clearly how he was feeling but sometimes I swear none of his facial muscles moved! Also though, admittedly, I’ve been a huge fan of Hu Ge since his Chinese Paladin days, but he’s honestly never displayed this level of mastery before. Hu Ge as MCS is literally, like the culmination of all things holy. BUT other than Hu Ge, Liu Hao Ran’s got to be my favorite. Like, I fangirl over him, and while I LIKE many actors, I rarely fan over ANYONE to this degree. Bc LHR as PJ absolutely smashes it and simultaneously fulfills all my dreams and hopes of Lin Shu but also is his own person.) …

    ANYWAYS, to all the fans out there, he’s got another huge role coming up as the main character in the new Novaland: Eagle something… It’s fantasy set in the same Novaland world as that other one, and the production looks amazing, his character sounds meaty, and the plot is very epic-saga style. I’m hoping it’s everything Tribes and Empires wasn’t. The rest of the cast is also pretty hefty and weighty, so high hopes.

    Also, as a note for my previous comment, another HUGE thing I loved about NiF2 were the themes. The family themes, patriotism, righteousness, INTEGRITY, all incredibly wise and weighty ideas but also so well communicated and done without sounding preachy or like propaganda.

    1. kfangurl

      I have to say, Hu Ge is magnificent. NIF was my introduction to him, and I was blown clean away by how much he embodied MCS, and in such an effortless and detailed manner too. You picked a great 男神, I must say! 😉

      Yay that Liu Haoran is getting another meaty role! 😀 I must say, though, I didn’t do very well when I attempted to watch Novoland.. I found the startling blue contact lenses too distracting, and the blue garments that the men wore looked like ugly prom dress rejects to my eyes. 🙈🙊 But, I am absolutely gonna check out this new Novoland offering when it comes out, coz I do enjoy Liu Haoran a lot. 😍😍 Fingers crossed that I’ll do better this time around!

      YES, the themes in NIF2 were very well handled. I, too, didn’t find it at all preachy or indulgent; it came across as sincere and heartfelt to me, and that’s what always got me, right in the heart. <3

      1. Julianne

        Sorry, I think I misspoke. So there are a bunch of authors who wrote a bunch of unrelated stories and novels, but the connector is that they’re all set in this fantasy world with a rich culture that all these authors collectively built and sort of elaborated on a little more in each of their own novels. This collective world is 九州, which a lot of people have been calling Novaland in English. The source material for Tribes and Empires was actually set in this Novaland. The drama “Novaland” you’re referring to is…I’m not actually sure if it’s from a novel part of this universe, but it’s not really the same, to say the least. Actually, it’s definitely part of the same universe, if only very idol-ed up and cartoonified a bit. Actually, a pretty comprehensive look at all the different peoples and cultures of Novaland the setting would be Tribes and Empires, which was a poorly planned and paced drama due to a huge variety of reasons, all of which you can read about here http://avenuex.ca/blog/2017/12/10/so-what-happened-to-tribes-and-empires , BUT T&E was definitely quality based on its rich world building, exposition, and cinematography. The “winged ppl” in the drama Novaland that literally no one particularly liked, MAY have been a part of this universe because there WERE a winged people, but it’s a very different vibe, to say the least.

        Here’s a trailer of his upcoming drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-ATw-s-zc8
        (I’m also a huge fan of the fact that he WILL have a military role here!)

        Here’s the trailer to Tribes and Empires, which had amazing potential but ultimately was disappointing and didn’t live up to its trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS_mcsvPjxA

        1. kfangurl

          Ahh! Thanks for clearing that up, Julianne! 😀 That makes a lot of sense. I also remember watching Avenue X’s video explaining what happened to T&E, but I hadn’t read her blog post. Thanks for adding the link! I did try watching a bit of T&E, but didn’t manage to get into it. I admittedly didn’t try TOO hard, because by that time, I was already aware that T&E became bloated and draggy in its second half. 😛

          The trailer for Liu Haoran’s new drama looks epic! I’m with you on him having another military role. It becomes him, so well! 😍😍😍 I’m definitely putting it on my list! 😀

      2. Timescout

        Who dares to diss my Novoland – Castle in the Sky! 😉 Yup, it was very much an idol-drama with all the flaws that often go with the genre. It was kinda campy fun though. I mainly watched it for Zhang Ruo Yun and he was solid in all his blue eyed glory. 😄 Extra points for the mane of glory.

        Tribes and Empires was such a disappointment, sigh. The premise was good and it looked gorgeous… but they totally dropped the ball otherwise due to various things. Here’s hoping to that they get Eagle Flag right. So far there hasn’t been a good Novoland adaptation yet.

        1. kfangurl

          Tee hee! I’m sorry for dissing your Novoland, Timescout!! 😅 I tried to get into the campy fun but I failed miserably 😛 I think I only managed a few eps of that one.

          It’s too bad what happened with Tribes and Empires.. I heard that folks were enjoying it very well in its first half, until things slowed to a crawl in the second half, due to financial concerns and such. Sigh. I sure hope Eagle Flag will be good though – Liu Haoran looks fierce and very awesome in the trailer. I could definitely get into more of that! 😉

  9. Julianne

    Omg YES! I tend to rave over at avirtualvoyage a lot more, simply because I’m a (historical, mostly) chinese drama sort of gal. BUT I’ve been pretty obsessed about NiF2 since the beginning of 2018, and while quite a few people did still rave with me about its awesomeness, there was a general sort of…discontentment with NiF2 just a little bit that I’m REALLY glad you love this and for ALL the same reasons I do too!

    Admittedly, plot-wise, pacing wasn’t as tight-knit as NiF1, but EMOTIONALLY? This KILLED me. NiF1 for me is incredibly melancholy and very very repressed. Whether it was my tears, or my hurt from the show, I also felt a subconscious need to hold back those tears a little, and emotionally just felt…as repressed as MCS probably felt, how the whole show was a little restrained, a little contained (in a very poetic and thematic way, but it was there). For NiF2, the sadness was probably just as much for me, but also was much more cathartic and the emotions were very…relieving. I CRIED for basically 20 episode straight. Essentially, the first time I watched, from maybe mid 20’s to about early 40’s, I basically cried on and off every 10 minutes or so. But it was very much an emotional release for me.

    I ADORED the ChangLin family, possibly more than words could describe. I think I especially loved TingSheng’s relationship with PingJing. It hit me exceptionally hard because while my family is VERY different, their relationship struck me as…very very familiar. While his father clearly cares for and loves Pingjing, we didn’t see the depth of that care and understanding between them until Pingjing was forced to grow up. The first time PJ comes home after 2 years in the army, that exchange when he goes through the rituals and customs of paying respect to his father KILLS it every single time I watch it. It’s incredibly understated, but while Tingsheng still acts with tough-love sort of manner, the understanding and raw grief and RELIEF and both their eyes as PJ bows and then can’t get back up from that last bow is so deep, it hits me right there. When they meet again when PJ returns ready to accept his punishments, they don’t explicitly talk about the repercussions of him defying the edict, but that’s exactly it. They have not only care and love between them, but true and deep understanding and RESPECT for each other that goes being parent-child, protector-protected, but is a soul-deep confidant almost. PJ understands why his father will never do what others expect and raise a faction for him, or fight for him, but he also understands exactly why that is and fundamentally AGREES with and respects his father for that decision. And TingSheng knows that PJ understands, and rather than trying to “explain himself” or discuss it, he expresses his pride and love in little ways like telling PJ to take time and relax with him before facing the world again.

    TingSheng and matured-PJ actually had few moments together, but their scenes were so silently charged, so quietly deep; it was incredibly moving.

    And the ending! Actually I kind of thought the second to last 5 eps were really slow. While I liked the new general guy well enough, he was just too new for me to REALLY care and connect with him beyond a superficial yay-good-guy way. And Xiao YuanQi…I understood his character, everything, but I don’t think he was ever…compelling enough on screen to me for me to truly care about what he was plotting? It wasn’t until people started clamoring for PJ and his subsequent magnificent return again that I got back to feeling excited.

    Nitpicks aside tho, I truly like how the ending, well, ended, on an emotional note. Like you said, it was very well completed and circled back in tone and feel. Emotionally, while NiF1 left me understanding and happy FOR Lin Shu, it also left me feeling very regretful and full of what-ifs. On the other hand, NiF2 ends leaving me feeling very…satisfied; it wasn’t particularly happy, or particularly perfect, but it left me with a very bittersweet but hearty-satisfied-sigh feeling. Like how one gets after a comfortably full dinner that ended on a suitably slice of pie or something.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi Julianne! 😀 Yay that you enjoyed this review, and double yay, that we feel similarly about this show! <3

      Thanks for your thoughtful and heartfelt sharing about NIF2! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and you make a great point, about NIF2 feeling a lot more emotionally satisfying, especially in terms of the character relationships. I love how you describe Ting Sheng's relationship with Pingjing; it really is as unspoken and yet, as deep and profound and robust, as you described. This was the relationship that brought on the tears for me the most, I think. I love the scene you described, of Pingjing's return, and his father's welcome and reception of him. So much unsaid, but so much communicated anyway. <3

      As for the ending, I get what you mean, about how NIF2's ending wasn't perfect, but it was satisfying. I did feel a measure of wistfulness about Pingjing leaving Jinling, and along with it, many people whom he cares about. I also felt regret that his brilliance as a general would be "wasted," in a manner of speaking. But I also recognized that this was what he wanted; from the very beginning, we knew that he was born a free spirit, and had no desire to live a life within the confines of the royal court. So I think we were given an ending that was as perfect as could be accomplished; he doesn't stay in Jinling, but the option is left open for him to return, if the Emperor ever needs his help again. And in leaving, he gets to live in freedom, AND he gets to do so with Lin Xi. That's all I could ask for, I think. :')

  10. Owl Star

    I’ve been “saving” this drama and only recently watched it too! It’s been a while since I watched NIF and I don’t remember too much, so other than it being set in the same place, this wasn’t really a sequel for me per se. It’s definitely a slow burn, but it felt like such a quality production that I didn’t mind. It reminded me of the slice of life type dramas where the relationships are really well fleshed out. And the last few episodes were just so gratifying!

    I really enjoyed Ping Jing’s relationship with Lin Xi, even though it was understated and they barely had any physical contact, you can really tell that they had a deep bond. I actually didn’t like how Ping Zhang treated Xiao Xue… he always kept her in the dark about things in the name of protecting her, and it made her seem like a weaker character than she could have been.

    My first time watching Liu Hao Ran and I’m a convert haha, definitely one of the more talented young actors. Have you seen him in With You? There are a lot of comparisons to A Love So Beautiful bc they’re both youth dramas, but I read that some people didn’t like the ending so I haven’t jumped in yet. Plus I kinda like him more in ancient costume 😛

    1. kfangurl

      Aw, yay that you ended up enjoying this drama too, Owl Star! 😀 And I do think that part of the reason the final episodes felt so gratifying on the relationship front, is because Show took the time to really flesh out the characters and their relationships over the course of our story. So the slow burn was definitely worth in the end, for me. 🙂

      You make a great point about Pingzhang keeping things from Xiaoxue.. I didn’t like that either, and I did want him to tell her the truth, many times. I still do appreciate the loving dynamic that we got to witness between them though. I found that pretty refreshing coz in a show like this which puts so much effort into being true to the time period, I was expecting the marriage relationship to be portrayed in a more formal manner.

      I’ve got With You on my list, and have had it on my list even before I started on NIF, but I haven’t started on it proper. I’ve only seen little snippets of it here and there. I think I’m gonna have to wait for a bit though.. I feel like my brain will only acknowledge Liu Haoran as Pingjing, at this point! 😉

      PS: Thanks for recommending Legend of Yun Xi, I’ve started on it, and have been marathoning episodes more than I expected to! It’s not a quality production, sure (especially after something like NIF2!), but the crack factor is there, and it’s pretty easy to slurp up! 😁

      1. Owl Star

        Yay I’m glad you find Yun Xi cracky like I did! 😀I know what you mean about production quality. I’m slightly allergic to bad CGI and nearly dropped it 5 min in at the bracelet bubble library scene, but I’m glad I kept going. The second half is less engaging and I was short on time so basically only watched the OTP scenes. I’m curious to see what you think of the ending if you make it there!

        1. kfangurl

          Hahaha! Y’know, it took MANY visits to the bracelet bubble library place, before I kinda got an idea of how that worked. And even now, I’m not sure if my idea of it is what the writers intended. The first time she went to the bubble library, I was so stumped. Like, what the heck just happened?? 🤯😆 But I eventually got the idea that the bracelet somehow works like some kind of magical memory stick cum google/encyclopedia? And I am guessing that all of this knowledge was her mother’s, since the bracelet is her mother’s.. I don’t know. It’s hard to make sense of all the poison stuff in the show, I hafta admit! 😝 But the OTP moments are pretty good, just like you promised, so I’m continuing to slurp it up, even though where I am now (E21), we are spending wayyy too much time on poison sects and zombies..! 😛

          1. Owl Star

            They kinda explain the bracelet a little bit more later, but it’s still basically magical google to me hehe. 😛 Although she did kinda cure her face thing while inside? I think she might have been a time traveler from the future in the original novel (à la Eternal Love), not sure if that has anything to do with it. Unfortunately the zombie stuff is only going increase, which coincided with the amount of fast-forwarding I did 😝

            1. kfangurl

              I haven’t fast-forwarded anything yet, but I will keep that option in mind! I was rewarded with the hug scene in E21, eee! I love when his gaze goes all soft, and he’s not in business mode. 😍

              Also, boo, I can’t view the vid where I’m located. But, I do know the koala hug! I think she’s done it twice so far, but I much prefer the drunken one where she told Ming Xiang to bugger off coz Duke was HERS. His discombobulation was bonus, of course! 😋

              1. Owl Star

                Boo YT restrictions! But yeah, it’s the drunken hug, kiss, and go make babies scene hehe. 😛 I do love the slow thawing of LFY, and how he repeatedly but subtly fishes for a confession from her… and he actually got it in E21 lol. 😍

                1. kfangurl

                  True! It’s very cute how he keeps fishing for some confirmation of her feelings for him, and looks disappointed each time she doesn’t give him the confirmation he’s seeking. At this point my only grouse is, he should verbalize his feelings for her too. I rationalize that the hug tells her how he feels, but if he was so intent on hearing something from her, then it’s only fair that he offers her the same, no? So I’m side-eyeing him, while still managing to swoon, at the same time, ha! 😒😍😆

                  1. Owl Star

                    I know right?? I think he’s so tightly wound that he probably doesn’t know how to verbalize his feelings yet… good thing she’s rather loose-lipped lol. 😝 But he does show it through his actions. And I think she realizes it too, like when he gave her the ointment for her wound she says that he treats her really well.

                    1. kfangurl

                      I’ve been rationalizing that she knows because of his actions, but in the very next ep (E22, I think), she seems so hungry to hear from Ning Jing that he really does like her. She asks, “Really? You think he really likes me?” – and I’m back to wishing he’d just SAY something to let her know. 😒 But, I do appreciate that he’s so patient with her. Even after the E23 fiasco of the birthday banquet, he manages to protect her and talk to her, and I’m back to 😍😍 again. Ha! 😆

                    2. Owl Star

                      Hmm didn’t get notified about your response for some reason so I didn’t see it… Yeah I was confused too when after all the hugging (which is A BIG DEAL in ancient times ya know), she’s still not sure that he likes her? May be some kissing will take care of that hehe. 😆 Not sure where u are now but yeah, he does start actually saying stuff after a while. But unfortunately show devolves into the usual tropes in later episodes.

                    3. kfangurl

                      Gah. I hafta tell ya, Owl Star.. I don’t know if I can finish Yun Xi.. I got to about E30, and the poison stuff is boring me to tears. 😛 There’s so little OTP stuff, and SO MUCH poison stuff. After E30, I haven’t managed to muster the interest to go on to E31. Yikes.

                  2. Owl Star

                    Oh no!! Well can’t say I didn’t warn you! Time for liberal use of that FF button! I ended up skipping through so much and only stopping to watch OTP scenes and can pretty much piece together the rest of the plot… you wouldn’t be missing much. They really tortured the poison stuff to death.

                    Show reminds me of The Eternal Love in that 1st half was so cracky but 2nd half took a nosedive. Speaking of which, maybe you’ve heard that season 2 has started airing? I’ve watched a couple trailers and plot seems confusing… but I’ll probably give it a try anyway… just need to wait until it’s done airing… and gets subbed… 😅

                    1. kfangurl

                      Wha..? There’s Season 2?!? 😱 I.. don’t know what to say! I mean, after ALLLL of the poison stuff, there’s more? OMG. 😂 And YES, this is turning out to be kinda like The Eternal Love, which was SO CRACKY in the first half, and then got all tangled up in its own plot in the second half. :/ So far Legend of Yun Xi hasn’t reached the same level of WTH-ery as The Eternal Love for me, so I do think it’s potentially slightly better. Still, with a Season 2 on the scene, I don’t know if I can handle this! 😅😆

                    2. Owl Star

                      Oops I should’ve clarified… season 2 of The Eternal Love! I don’t know how much more poison stuff they can possibly churn out for another season of Yun Xi lol. 😂

                    3. kfangurl

                      OH! Hahaha! Ok, I guess that’s some consolation, that there isn’t a Season 2 of Yun Xi! 😂😂 I plan to give Season 2 of The Eternal Love a miss tho. Got burned by Season 1 and don’t plan to go back for more! 😆

                    4. Owl Star

                      I will step up and take the hit on this one lol… will give it a try, although I’m not THAT attached and will not hesitate to drop it like a hot potato if it starts turning into a disaster again. 😆

                    5. kfangurl

                      Oh Owl Star, you brave soul, you! 😆 Do let me know how you find Season 2, when you brave the waters! I absolutely don’t want to watch it, but can’t help feeling curious to know how they treat Season 2. 😝😅

    1. kfangurl

      I personally felt the first NIF was better, but Julianne makes a great case in her remarks below, that NIF2 does manage some of its character relationships in a more satisfying manner than NIF did. I hope you enjoy your watch! 🙂

  11. JoannaXue

    Hi Fangurl! Really enjoyed your flash review on Nirvana in Fire 2! While I immediately fell in love with the way each of the characters were written(maybe except for the Empress), the set design, and the soundtrack, I do have to admit it was at times, a hard watch. I couldn’t help stomach the fact that terrible calamities were going to befall the main characters and that feeling, always tore at my heart.

    I think I could be of assistance in explaining the major plot point with Puyang Ying and his unexplained hatred for Pingzhang. When the plague started to spread throughout Puyang Ying’s country, Da Liang(Pingzhang’s home country), decided to swiftly close its borders to prevent the plague from devastating its citizens. Pingzhang had an active role in this operation, as he was the one who led the troops and directly sealed off Da Liang’s borders under the emperor’s decree. As a result, Pingzhang played a part in cutting off any chance of escape for Puyang Ying and the citizens who suffered from the plague. That is why Puyang Ying has a particular hatred towards Pingzhang, as he believes that Pingzhang also played a role in his country’s demise.

    Hopefully this helps! It’s at times like these where I’m happy I don’t need to rely on subtitles! Thank you again for such a detailed review and I’m happy you enjoyed the show as much as I did.

    1. Slvr

      Actually I beg to differ on this count. The Changlin army had an active role in sealing the gates to Yeqin (Puyang’s homeland) under Emperor Jingyan. Pingzhang was simply too young at the time to lead any forces or armies.

      The reason why Puyang Ying needs to remove Pingzhang was because he is possibly the only person capable of both the cunning and the military prowess to support the nation – kind of like MCS. The Emperor is too trusting, Tingsheng is loyal and militarily strong but he does not have any head for scheming, Pingjing is seen as an immature kid who is no threat to the royal throne.
      Pingzhang’s strength with both politics and military makes him a powerful contender for the throne, which Minister Xun is always under teh impression that the Changlin family is trying to steal from the young, weak Crown Prince.

      Puyang knows if he defeats Pingzhang he can reduce the strength of Da Liang permanently.

      1. kfangurl

        Thanks for your insight, Slvr. In principle, I agree that your explanation makes sense. At the same time, I felt that Puyang Ying’s approach to Pingzhang felt very personal, like he had some kind of personal vendetta against Pingzhang, and therefore had to destroy him, even if it cost him his own life. That’s the vibe I got, and my mum who watched the show at about the same time, picked up the same vibe. I found that very different from how Puyang Ying dealt with other people that were in the way; those in comparison felt much more businesslike. This personal vibe is what I can’t reconcile, because we’re not given a good reason for it, or, any kind of reason at all, actually. :/

    2. kfangurl

      Hi Joanna, thanks for enjoying this review of NIF2! <3 Yes, I know what you mean, about this being a hard watch at times. It was hard just waiting for the other shoe to drop, coz you just KNOW that the baddies need to succeed, in order for the story to move forward. That was hard-going, coz I always wanted the good guys to win, y'know? 🙂

      In terms of the Puyang Ying / Pingzhang plot point, I have to concur with Slvr, that the timeline would make Pingzhang too young to lead troops at the time of the plague that Puyang Ying's country suffered. I'm guessing that at the time of our story, Pingzhang is in his late twenties, tops, which would make him probably barely a teenager at the time of the plague in question. 🤔

  12. phl1rxd

    Hi Fangurl! I have been patiently waiting for this review! I just finished my 6th (could be 7th – I have lost count) re-watch of NIF last week and it is still as good as the first time. I then started re-watching NIF2 only to find myself seriously stuck at episode 2 and stopped.

    After reading this review I will go back to where I was and re-watch this and re-comment.

    It has been quite a while since I watched NIF2 but I remember that Guo Jingfei was so creepy in this! He made my skin crawl – then I watched him in Darker 1 and 2 and absolutely loved him in both series. He is a very versatile actor. I also admired Sun Chun’s portrayal of Tingsheng. The character reflected the values of Prince Jing which I really loved. The grave scene was deeply moving and I went through quite a few tissues.

    Back to episode 2! Thanks for the inspiration to finish!

    1. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for waiting for this one so patiently, phl!! <3 This one's a long one, and with me watching about an episode a day (while sometimes skipping a day), I think I took at least 2 months from start to finish! 😛

      NIF is completely brilliant and absolutely worthy of multiple rewatches! I'm sure your grasp of the various events and details in NIF would stand you in good stead to better appreciate NIF2 than the average viewer! Coz NIF2 does make reference to NIF on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes it's in flashback form (and then my heart leaps, when I see beloved characters on my screen), and sometimes, it's in passing, when an event or character is mentioned in conversation. I'm sure I missed some of the smaller connections, since I watched NIF only 1.2 times and that was a long time ago. You, on the other hand, would've probably picked it all up without any problems! 😀

      Yes, Guo Jingfei was very creepy in this – gosh, he made Puyang Ying so oily and so slippery and creepy, all at the same time! And what a great observation about Ting Sheng! He really does reflect Prince Jing's values – an indication that Prince Jing brought him up right. <3 I hadn't made that connection until you pointed it out!

      I hope you enjoy your rewatch.. this one was such a slow burn for me, that I can totally understand getting stuck at E2! 😆 If you do pick up more connections to NIF, please do tell! You know I love that kinda stuff! 😉


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