Dropped: Love And Destiny [China]

I think it’s time to admit that this show really isn’t working for me, you guys.

I tried with this one; I really did.

You might remember that I was in two minds about whether to keep going with this one, when I wrote my 2019 year-in-review. In all honesty, I’d been quite ready to drop it, just 6 episodes in, coz I’d wandered off and hadn’t felt the urge to go back. But then, AvenueX mentioned that even though this drama didn’t bring anything really new to the table, that it was one of her favorites of 2019 because of how real and believable the OTP chemistry and interactions were.

..which reeled me right back in, coz I did like this OTP. But now, many more episodes later, I finally realize that even though AvenueX and my own sister and maybe lots of other folks love this show, I just won’t end up loving this one. Everr.

WHAT I LIKED: The OTP

I concur with AvenueX; the OTP is very good together.

I came to enjoy our leads individually, quite quickly into my watch. Chang Chen is quite charismatic as Jiu Chen, and he possesses enough screen presence and gravitas for me to believe that he is the God of War, without him having to say very much at all. Ni Ni has a classic sort of beauty, and I can believe she is a beautiful immortal. The cute vibe she sometimes has to channel doesn’t distract me either. In fact, I find Ni Ni very likable and endearing. The cuteness of Ling Xi is just nice, for my taste. She’s not overly cutesy or clumsy; she comes across as very natural and winsome in my eyes.

Importantly, Chang Chen and Ni Ni share a chemistry that I found very sparky, and when the script allowed for it, their interactions and growing closeness felt very believable and natural. I really liked that, and I was eager to see more of this OTP getting to know each other, and growing closer.

Happily, Show does give me that, at least for a while. Here are some of my personal OTP highlights, during my watch. To be clear, I didn’t love everything about how this OTP relationship is treated, but I’ll talk about that later.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E5. Jiu Chen is definitely softening towards Ling Xi. The way he thanks her gently after they get back to Fuyun Hall, and the way he lets her prattle on as she sits in his presence. But most of all, the way he leaks a smile, when he overhears her exasperated interactions with the naughty puppy. Kya!

E8. Jiu Chen’s soul taking petty revenge on the Thunder God’s (Hei Zi) soldiers for bullying Ling Xi is pretty great though. And Ling Xi’s clearly trying to make medicine to help him.

E10. Ling Xi is definitely putting her heart into action, literally defending the evidence with her life, for Jiu Chen’s sake. And when Jiu Chen sees that she’s badly injured, I feel like I can see his concern, to the point where I feel like his heart aches to see her in such a state.

E11. Jiu Chen personally nursing Ling Xi is definitely a sign that he’s softened towards her. Also, the way he speaks to her is more personable and casual in manner, even if not in speech patterns. I’m also surprised that besides punishing Yuan Tong (Hai Ling) by removing 50,000 years of her cultivation and instructing her to start again as a normal soldier, he takes the extra step of meting out compensation for Ling Xi, just as Ling Xi had pouted to him about. Hee. He is taking her feelings seriously, and I like that.

E12. Lol. Jiu Chen waking up feeling poisoned, thanks to Ling Xi not understanding that he could die of carbon monoxide poisoning without his powers, is quite amusing. More so because he doesn’t even rebuke Ling Xi for it. I feel like he’s indulging her more and more now, and it’s clearly because he’s grown a huge soft spot for her. This pleases me.

E17. Well, finally. Jiu Chen looks at Ling Xi with softness in his expression, smiles slightly, and agrees not to make her leave again. All while patting her on the shoulder, as she drapes herself over his knee. It’s not much, but it’s significant. He seems to be acknowledging his fondness for her. Especially in the way he asks her if she’d like to return to the Peach Forest, or stay with him. It’s subtle, but his feelings are finally showing, and I’m here for it.

E18. I must say, it’s nice to see Jiu Chen and Ling Xi acting kinda lovey-dovey. He even held her hand, when they headed back to the Heavenly Palace for Ling Xi to be questioned. That’s comforting and sweet.

E18. Jiu Chen is absolutely treating Ling Xi with tenderness now, and sometimes when he fixes his gaze on her, I melt a little. Chang Chen can definitely do a swoony gaze well.

[END SPOILER]

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE 

Heh. This poster basically says it all: I didn’t care for the very complicated world that exists around our OTP. Let me attempt to give you an idea of what I mean, without delving too deep into it and being too much of a downer.

1. I wasn’t super interested in Show’s fantasy world

I never could tell these two apart from each other, or from other plasticky clad warriors

I basically didn’t care about the machinations of this fantasy world. I didn’t care about the Heavenly Tribe, and all the white plasticky armor made everyone look so similar that I mostly couldn’t tell characters apart, especially if they weren’t primary characters. I also didn’t care about the Lieyi Tribe, the Shan Ling Tribe or the Demon Tribe; the stories around all these characters were long-drawn out and, to my eyes, overly complex. I tried to pay attention to these details at first, but it wasn’t long before I found myself actually forgetting why characters were doing the things they were doing.

2. I lost interest in supporting arcs that I’d initially rather liked

These two were amusing, just for a while

I was mildly interested in several supporting characters – Shi San (Na Guang Zi) and her longtime crush on Si Ming (Zhang Hai Yu) was quite amusing, as was Yun Feng (Li Jia Ming) and his crush on Qing Yao (Zhang Zhi Xi) – but because Show is so long, and things meander and cycle in place for long periods of time, I found myself eventually losing interest in these side arcs as well.

3. I had issues with the OTP relationship

There’s a big power imbalance built into our OTP relationship, with Jiu Chen being the God of War, and Ling Xi being a minor immortal who is basically a servant in his courtyard. Maybe Show fixes this later in its run, but from what I could tell (I got 41 episodes in, sort of, which I’ll tell you more about, in a bit), the power imbalance doesn’t actually get evened out, and that niggles at me.

Plus, in the early-ish episodes at least, Ling Xi has an almost unreasonable degree of trust in Jiu Chen, which I felt was a bit disturbing.

[SPOILER] For example, in episode 15, Jiu Chen locks her up and has her almost freeze to death, and her trust in him does not waver in the slightest. I didn’t get what he was testing her about, really, and it bothered me that Ling Xi trusts Jiu Chen so implicitly that she doesn’t even doubt him when she almost freezes to death. I mean, trust is good, but you gotta be more shrewd about things. If the man you love almost kills you, you really should doubt him, I think.

Plus, there’s also that thing where, in episode 23, thanks to Plot Developments, Ling Xi is executed, believing that Jiu Chen was the one who sent her to her death. [END SPOILER]

4. Stuff gets really angsty

By episode 23, there’s angst everywhere, and I felt like I was putting up with quite a lot of uninteresting filler to get to the moments that actually grabbed me.

[SPOILER] For example, in episode 24, I was really uninterested in the first half of this episode, with Shan Ling Tribe’s State Preceptor (Li Dong Xue) being accused of wrongdoing etc. I wasn’t even that interested in Jiu Chen exhausting himself in dragon form, trying to gather Ling Xi’s spirit. But, that moment when he’s about to let Ling Xi go to the mortal realm, was quite arresting. His reluctance to part with her, the vicarious pain he feels, in sending her to a trial that will not be easy, and the anticipation of the separation, is all written in the look of sadness on his face, and the tortured tear that escapes his eye. I felt that. [END SPOILER]

SAYING GOODBYE [SPOILERS]

By episode 25, I felt distinctly bored with my watch. So from episode 26 onwards, I decided I’d try to fast-forward through all the stuff I wasn’t interested in, and only watch the bits that drew me in.

Ha. Guess what? I often ended up fast-forwarding through almost entire episodes; there was that much stuff that I didn’t care to watch. On the plus side, I felt like I was saving time, and I felt freed from subjecting myself to multiple scenes that I had no interest in. Suddenly, the story felt tighter, because I was ignoring such large chunks of  – what were to me – filler.

At around the episode 29 mark, Jiu Chen allows human Ling Xi, now named Ah Mo, to believe that he’s her fiance Lord Song, and.. I had a problem with that. I felt that this deception was unfair to her, with him impersonating someone else in order to get close to her, but Show only concentrates on how happy Jiu Chen is to be near her, and doesn’t seem to even consider that this is going to have a negative impact on her in any way.

And then, Show serves up a petty rivalry for Ah Mo’s affections between Jiu Chen and State Preceptor Jing Xiu, which I initially found mildly entertaining despite its stupidity, but which I quickly lost interest in. I felt that both men (ok, immortals) were being a nuisance, especially when they broke the table and promptly ruined all the food that she’d cooked.

At the episode 39 mark, Ah Mo tells both men to leave, but neither does. I get that Jiu Chen likes her, but him telling her not to ever ask him to leave again, is quite.. instructional, and it’s far from romantic. I struggle with the power imbalance enough, without him resorting to things like this.

Essentially, while I still like the chemistry between our leads, I struggle with how Ah Mo states that she’s not interested in a romantic connection with Jiu Chen, but he doesn’t respect the boundary she’s drawn, and continues scheming to find ways to make her pay him attention and take care of him.

This bugged me. Considering that I was hanging on mainly purely for the OTP connection, this was not a good thing. Now, I didn’t even have the silver lining of enjoying the OTP moments that I did watch. Boo. And then there’s the thing where by this point, I’d fast-forwarded through so much stuff, that I literally didn’t have a clue as to what was actually going on in this story anymore. Whoops.

After half-heartedly fast-forwarding my way through most of episode 41, I decided that it was time to stop torturing myself and just call it quits. I know some of you guys might love this one, which is cool. Please love Show extra for me, ok? Coz I don’t think I ever will, unfortunately. >.<

37 thoughts on “Dropped: Love And Destiny [China]

  1. Pingback: Dear kfangurl: What are some OTPs that didn’t work for you? | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. Alena

    Yeah you really hit the nail on the head here. In many ways I found the acting of the leads to be better and more subtle than the leads in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, for example, or Pillow Book (but honestly Pillow Book was SO BAD that it barely warrants mentioning); but I also thought that the actually written dynamic of the relationship was not healthy. It really got in the way of me being able to just enjoy the pairing, which sucked. I could have forgiven a convoluted plot, boring side characters, gaps in logic, etc., if the leads had remained as arresting and sweet and moving as they promised to be at the very beginning of the show. Unfortunately that did not happen.

    My biggest gripe is the same as yours: the power imbalance remains for the entirety of the show. I don’t mind a power imbalance in a romance in the beginning (him being the grouchy, famous, powerful God of War and her being the flighty, naive, bubbly minor immortal is part of what makes their dynamic so enjoyable and fun at first) but I don’t like it when that imbalance is never scrutinized or explored by the writers. She trusts him SO MUCH and that never really changes. She clearly sets boundaries in the mortal world and yet he ignores them and lies and manipulates her into accepting him and caring for him. She is also in the dark about things that pertain to her and her fate for nearly the entire show’s runtime. Not only does that feel like a lazy move by the writers to have their female lead never really grow as a person, but it feels like a betrayal of Jiu Chen as a character. What I liked about him at the beginning was that he was honourable, serious, uptight, generous, thoughtful and caring (even if it was in a detached way). His behaviour in the mortal world shows NONE of that. Maybe he’s changed and softened because of his love for her, but he seems to have lost his principles along the way.

    I made it nearly to the end of the show before I stopped. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when that guy with the head tattoos made a run for it after killing her mom. By this point the female lead is a HIGH IMMORTAL. She is a clan leader and she has powerful magic (or whatever it’s called). But she still stays behind while Jiu Chen looks for him instead (he gets away). This frustrated me so deeply. It is within her abilities to fight Head Tattoo Guy, it is also her responsibility as a clan leader and would make good narrative sense given that a) they have a history of caring for each other and b) he killed her mom! I just could not understand why she wasn’t more involved.

    Anyway, I rarely disagree with Avenuex on anything because our tastes are very similar and generally if she likes something I will too, but this is definitely a case where I found the OTP’s acting could not make up for the poor and disquieting writing. Sigh.

    Thanks for your review by the way! Didn’t mean to rant, but it’s nice to see someone else agrees with me 🙂

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Alena, no worries at all, about ranting!! I’m very much in agreement with your rant! 😆😆 I was so disturbed by the way he was imposing on her and lying to her in the mortal realm, and OH YES, that power imbalance, which stayed so strong from beginning to end (well, as far as I could tell; I ended up FF-ing to the end, just to see what I was missing). And YES, that thing where the State Preceptor (I really did not like his head tattoos! 😝) killed her mom, and she doesn’t hunt him down and make him pay. 😤

      I really liked the early bits of the show, as far as the early OTP development went. On that point I can agree with AvenueX, but just like you said, the writing did not support this OTP well, and I got to the point where this OTP just wasn’t the highlight of this show that it once was. Quite a waste, since I thought Chang Chen and Ni Ni have a lovely chemistry, and Chang Chen really has a mature, distinguished charm about him. 😔

      Reply
  3. MimiB

    I agree with your thoughts on the OTP. I can’t believe how many people can’t see how disturbing the level of trust Ling Xi has in Jiu Chen is. In the mortal world too, how he lies to her and seems to only considers his own feelings. I get that fans easily swoon over a male lead who would do anything to close to the female lead, but this is just stupid considering how he’s a war god.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Oh, hi5, MimiB!! I know, it was so unbecoming of Jiu Chen to lie to her in the mortal world, and encroach on her personal space, despite her discomfort and her clear drawing of boundaries. I was so perplexed by that, seriously! 😝 Considering how late in the game we were by that time, it was a no for me! 😜

      Reply
      1. MimiB

        I think Quippequest agree with this view, they wrote something about Jiu Chen and this unbalanced power dynamic on their blog and made a video about him too. So I don’t think you’re alone in this😂

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Oh! Thanks MimiB! It’s always great to know that I’m not alone! 😄😉 I mean, I do enjoy Chang Chen in this, but.. the long-running power imbalance was just hard to embrace. 😅

          Reply
  4. JJ

    Could you please review “Under the Power”? I really loved that one! It was super cracky, the chemistry between the two leads was outstanding, and the male lead was sublime! 🙂

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      I have to say, Under the Power wasn’t on my radar, but you’ve piqued my interest. I’ll put it on the list to take a look, but I can’t promise I’ll get to it soon though! I have too many dramas that I’m curious to check out, and not enough drama hours to do it all! 😅 Thanks for the recommendation though! <3

      Reply
  5. phl1rxd

    Hi Fangurl!

    I am laughing as I loved this so much I binged it. I could not stop and even stayed up late. I had to do that “Oh what episode did I fall asleep at?” when I woke up to find it had been playing continuously all night (I am sure a lot of us have done this with various dramas over the years).

    Aside from those awful white military looking costumes of which you post a photo of above – you are spot on as they were awful – I loved the colors in all the other clothing especially Li Jia Ming’s white costume with peeks of red.

    The main reason I loved this is because of Chang Chen. He is such a great actor. I loved the OTP as well. I also loved his performance in Brotherhood of Blades.

    That is what makes the drama watching tribe so special – we are a diverse group of different folks from all over the world hooked on all kinds of drama!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Lol! That’s so funny, that I struggled so much with this one, and you loved it so much! 😆 Yes, we are a diverse & special tribe indeed! ❤ I do agree that Chang Chen is very appealing as Jiu Chen, and I honestly did enjoy a good chunk of the OTP early scenes. It was the writing that just didn’t work for me, in terms of the relationship dynamics. If they’d handled that differently, I might’ve enjoyed my watch a lot more, I think! 😅

      Reply
  6. junny

    I saw bits of this. Chang Chen was very good, and had the gravitas and charisma to carry off the role. But his hairstyle sucked balls and he should go back to film. I agree Peaches was a fluke.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Yes, I did like Chang Chen in this. I immediately felt that he had the screen presence and charisma to play God of War. I just didn’t like a lot of other stuff in the show, unfortunately! 😅

      Reply
      1. junny

        Chang Chen exudes a certain kind of 霸气 that I like very much, and his screen presence is intense. I think I liked better his emotional scenes with Ni Ni, rather than two of them being cutesy (so OOC). They did have good chemistry though.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Ooh, I learned a new phrase today! 霸气 says it all! And yes, he does have that 霸气 about him, and yet it doesn’t come across in a bad way. I agree; the emotional scenes were much more compelling and organic. I didn’t like the cutesy bits as much as the writers probably hoped; I agree it was OOC. But yes, their chemistry was THE thing that kept me going for as long as I did. That felt real and natural, very nice indeed. <3

          Reply
  7. Pingback: Year In Review: 2019 | The Fangirl Verdict

  8. seankfletcher

    I read your review while watching Rugal (which is touch and go for me right now). With Love and Destiny I have yeah/nah so many times. Many people have said it was really good, but without any substance. So, on the back of your review kfangurl, I can now, happily, just go, nah 😜

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, I was rather intrigued by the idea of Rugal, so I’m mildly dismayed that it’s touch and go for you. 😅 I’ll hold off trying it out, and put it in the “maybe” pile for now. As for Love and Destiny.. I personally don’t think you’re missing much by giving it a nah. 😉 Ah, there also seems to be an “opposites” rule at work with this one, ie, those who love Peaches tend to dislike this one, and vice versa. The people I know who loved this one, all seem to hate Peaches. I loved Peaches, but just couldn’t make this one work for me, no matter how hard I tried. So that’s another rule of thumb you could use. Also, all the fantasy constructs of these xianxia stories seem to be very very similar, so much so that I’ve started to find them predictable, even though I’ve only attempted a small handful of them. That didn’t help. 😛

      Reply
      1. seankfletcher

        Rugal should be right up my alley, but it lacks a certain pastiche. I will say though, Park Seong Woong is putting in the most awesome, over the top performance ever – method acting extraordinaire 😱

        The opposites rule is interesting. What you say makes perfect sense based on the other comments I have seen re comparing Peaches to Love and Destiny 😊

        Yes, I find the xianxia stories do try my patience re their sameness, and in particular the fantasy elements, hence my hesitation.

        Anyway, re the modern world, I enjoyed Perfect Partner recently – a nice change to how many of the workplace/business cdramas unfold (even if it is 50 eps).

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Ahhh!! I don’t know when it happened, but I have Big Love for Park Sung Woong, and I was really looking forward to seeing him in action in Rugal. So now I’m torn. You’re ditching the show, BUT, you’re also saying that he’s awesome in it. NOW what do I do?? 😭😝

          Isn’t it weird, though, how the xianxia stories have such a sameness to them, even though they’re supposed to be different?? I’m quite bemused by this, and whenever I pick up a new one, I always feel like I’m watching an echo of a show I’ve already seen. My mum finished Legend of Fuyao before attempting Love and Destiny, and she bailed at around E5, coz she said it was too similar. 😆 Like a mashup between Fuyao, Peaches and Ashes, she said. If the sameness bothers you, then that’s one more reason Love and Destiny wouldn’t have worked for you, I think!

          Thanks for the recommendation on Perfect Partner.. I can’t keep up with all the dramas coming out, and I hadn’t even come across this one, till you mentioned it! I just looked it up, and it does look promising. And I do enjoy Tong Liya. I’ll put it on my list to check out. Thanks Sean! 😀

          Reply
  9. Timescout

    I realised early on that xianxia just isn’t for me. I do much better with wuxia, with or without fantasy. Like Owl Star, I think Peaches was just a fluke and even with it I did ff quite a bit. 🙂

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi Timescout! Thanks for dropping by! <3 I have to say, I've tried a couple of xianxia shows, and so far, nothing comes close to Peaches. So yes, I'm also beginning to think that Peaches was a fluke.. I find that the fantasy worlds and narrative tropes in the various xianxia shows I've tried are all so similar that I feel like I can predict too many things. I'll probably not try another xianxia show for a while.. and yes, maybe give wuxia a try. 😅

      Reply
      1. Timescout

        Oh yes, the storylines are very similar and I especially got tired of all those sanctimonious “good” sects in every one of them.

        Try Joy of Life next, it was exellent. 😉 Or if you want something with a more classic wuxia feel to it, Of Monks ans Masters would fit the bill (still my all time fave cdrama). Still no subs though.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          I am genuinely puzzled as to why the xianxia stories share so many similarities in their stories.. there’s always some kind of birth secret and hidden power around the female lead, there’s always a demon sect and some Powerful Bad Being imprisoned somewhere, there’s always a mortal trial, there’s always some “white” character who goes “black,” there’s always a demon girl crushing on a non-demon boy.. I haven’t even seen many xianxia shows, and they’ve all already started to mash up in my head as one big universal story! 😂😂

          I’ve got Joy of Life on my list.. my mom’s finished it, and she liked it quite well, though she said she would’ve appreciated it a lot more if her understanding of Chinese was better. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll probably give it a whirl the next time I’m ready for a long C-drama. I am still amazed that you loved Of Monks and Masters as much as you do, when you watched it raw! You are amazing, my dear! 😆😆

          Reply
          1. Timescout

            It doesn’t help that the actors and actresses tend to look like each other’s copies, or maybe it really is the same few who end up playing in all these dramas. 😀

            Reply
          1. Owl Star

            Butting in to say that I really liked Joy of Life as well. Didn’t love the OTP but everything else was really good. I just didn’t realize the show was unfinished until I was already halfway through though. 😆

            Reply
  10. Owl Star

    I tried with this one too, but never really got hooked. I got to the mid teens or so in episodes before pretty much calling it quits. While show was nice and there wasn’t anything really wrong with it, I just never really got invested in any of the characters and it became a bit of a chore to watch. I’m kind of hesitant to start Pillow Book now, because I’m afraid xianxia really just isn’t my thing and 3L3W was basically just a fluke.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Owl Star! Great to see ya! <3 And, hi5, that we both never felt the hook bite, with this one. And I have to agree, it did feel like a chore to watch this, sometimes, especially when the focus was stuff that I wasn't interested in. I liked the OTP chemistry, but the focus on that was quite paltry, in the grand scheme of things. :/ I'm not planning to start on Pillow Book, coz I'm feeling quite a fair bit of fatigue with this fantasy set-up, and the one in Pillow Book is very similar. Also, I saw AvenueX rant that the visuals in Pillow Book look pretty cheap, compared to Peach Blossoms, and Love and Destiny. That's.. even less appealing, ha! 😝

      Reply
      1. Owl Star

        It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  ❤ Hehe.  And that’s certainly not helping about Pillow Book and it’s looking less and less likely that I’ll even attempt it.  If Mark Chao had made an appearance though… haha! 😝

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Viola! I’ve managed to move your comment as requested, and I’ve removed your later comment, so it’s all good now! 😉 And yeah, AvenueX showed side by side comparisons of the visuals in the 3 shows, of the heavenly throne room, and she’s right, the one in Pillow Book looks really cheap in comparison, while at least Love and Destiny is fairly close to the standard that Peaches set. Plus, I wasn’t ever that interested in the loveline between Feng Jiu and Di Jun, so.. even if they’d had Mark Chao as a guest star, I’d.. probably only tune in for the Mark Chao cut! 😅

          Reply
          1. Owl Star

            Yay now I don’t have to cringe at my floating comment anymore lol. And same, I totally fast-forwarded through some Feng Jiu/Di Jun parts too in Peaches, even though I know some people were really into their storyline. I heard their story is different in Pillow Book though, so I was mildly curious. But probably not enough to sit through so many episodes. 😆

            Reply

Leave a Reply