Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! We get lots of food for thought and plot-thickening reveals this set of episodes, so I hope you guys are ready to dig into it! (Doesn’t that fur trim on Mei Changsu’s cloak look like it must be luxuriously soft to the touch?)
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question. We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
It feels like more things are shifting; I feel like there’s an undercurrent of tension in just about everything that happens this episode.
As it turns out, Inspector Dong is much more in tune with who’s behind the assassin attack, since she easily dismisses Dying Assassin’s last claim as false. Also, Dying Assassin gets killed off by what appears to be backup forces, designed to prevent him from spilling any information, if he were to change his mind about staying silent. Interestingly, these backup forces do not attempt to take down Inspector Dong; it seems that she’s established clearly, that she’s a force to be reckoned with?
It does seem odd to me, that Inspector Dong, who had appeared to be bleeding heavily when she’d first met Jingrui and Yujin, to the extent that she couldn’t ride a horse, now seems much recovered, after expending more energy to fight off her attackers. That feels like a bit of a misstep? It’s not like Show forgot she was injured; Mei Changsu himself refers to her injury later in the episode. It’s just that her progression from weak-from-blood-loss, back to a-force-to-be-reckoned-with seems conveniently magical. 😅
Notably, Jingrui’s brother-in-law Zhuo Qingyao is on Inspector Dong’s tail, even as she re-enters the Capital – and Inspector Dong is fully aware of this.
In the meantime, Prince Mu, knowing that Mei Changsu is looking to buy a house, calls on Mei Changsu, and insists on going house hunting with him. Mei Changsu reluctantly agrees, apparently in an effort to deflect Prince Mu’s keen interest in where Fei Liu had learned his martial arts. And who should be waiting to receive Mei Changsu at the house that he’s viewing, but Nihuang. Ah.. It looks like this was but a pretext, for Nihuang to have a private word with Mei Changsu?
On the surface, it seems that Nihuang simply wants to extend her thanks to Mei Changsu for saving her from now-Concubine Yue’s nefarious scheme, but as their conversation goes on, it feels like Nihuang is testing the waters with Mei Changsu, almost as if she’s trying to confirm something.
Significantly, when Mei Changsu asks Nihuang why she seems to trust him so easily, Nihuang answers that it feels like she’s known him for a long time, and along with that, comes an inexplicable sense of trust. Also interesting, is how Nihuang appears to make the assumption that Mei Changsu would understand Prince Jing’s character. When Mei Changsu refutes her assumption without missing a beat, Nihuang does pause for thought, for a moment. This makes me wonder whether she had made that remark as a reflex because she felt such a sense of familiarity with Mei Changsu, or if she had said that, to test him somehow.
Either way, it does appear that Nihuang’s interest in Mei Changsu is piqued, because, not only does she insist that she’d like to continue to help him with house-hunting, despite his attempt to politely decline, she also seems to deliberately lead him away from the house, on a path that leads towards what she refers to as the Mansion of General Chiyan. From what we know about Mei Changsu’s background and identity, this would make the mansion his family home, from when he had been Lin Shu. Dang. That’s a difficult position to be in.
Nihuang is somewhat persistent in her efforts to invite Mei Changsu to enter the mansion with her, which I find rather odd. This really makes me wonder again, if she’s doing this because she just feels that comfortable with Mei Changsu, or if she has suspicions about his identity, and is testing him.
Significantly, when Mei Changsu asks why she would enter an abandoned place like this to recall the past, she says, “The people may have left and things may have changed. But it doesn’t meant that everything is gone too. Whatever needs to remain will still stay. May it be a person or an incident, they will stay in the heart and won’t be erased by time.”
If she does have a suspicion that he’s Lin Shu, then this sounds awfully like some kind of secret message to him, doesn’t it?
Whether intentionally or not, Nihuang manages to unsettle Mei Changsu sufficiently, that we can see the emotion flickering in his eyes.
This must be such a difficult moment for him, both mentally and emotionally. Not only must it stir up a lot of painful memories from being outside his old family home, it must also be emotionally gutting to be so close to his past, and yet, so far from it. Layered on top of that, is Nihuang’s semi-cryptic message, that seems directed at him. If Mei Changsu thinks that Nihuang has suspicions about his identity, I’m sure that would just add to his emotional and mental turmoil.
In a move that is uncharacteristically almost curt for Mei Changsu, he excuses himself and leaves Nihuang there at the mansion. This just shows us how difficult this moment has been for Mei Changsu, because I’m sure he wouldn’t want to raise even a hint of suspicion, if he could help it. It’s just that, with the way he goes cold and low-key rude on Nihuang, by leaving her there so abruptly, I’m sure that Nihuang’s suspicions would be pinged, even if they hadn’t been, before.
Also, I just want to say, Hu Ge’s delivery of this scene is simply outstanding. Mei Changsu’s shifts in expression are so subtle, and yet his pain and devastation are so palpable, that I feel gutted just watching him walk away. 💔
Meanwhile, we see that Marquis Xie’s allegiance to the Crown Prince is no longer a secret. Prince Yu is now aware that Marquis Xie is one who protected the plaintiffs for the case involving the Duke of Qing, and Xie Bi also receives instructions to keep a distance from Prince Yu henceforth. I guess this means that Prince Yu and Marquis Xie are direct enemies now?
After his unexpectedly tumultuous experience looking at houses, perhaps it’s no surprise that Mei Changsu sends Fei Liu to check out a house for him, and, later in the episode, ends up buying it without even first viewing the place himself. I guess that’s one way of sidestepping Nihuang’s offer to continue to assist him with the house hunting? 😅
Inspector Dong pays a visit to Mei Changsu, and takes some time to spar with Fei Liu, while she’s at it. Like I said before, this seems kind of unnecessary, especially since she’s supposed to be injured. But, moving on.
It seems that (at least part of) the reason Inspector Dong is here at Marquis Xie’s residence, is so that she can ascertain Mei Changsu’s intentions towards Nihuang. With the rumors around the fact that Nihuang’s been spending time alone with Mei Changsu, combined with the fact that Nihuang’s rejected all the shortlisted suitors from the tournament, the gossip is that Nihuang had rejected her suitors because of Mei Changsu. (I do wonder if this is true, actually. Nihuang does seem awfully intrigued by Mei Changsu, and understandably so.)
I do love Mei Changsu’s quiet response, “The princess has exceptional beauty and poise. How could I not have feelings of admiration towards her? However, being ill, I fear I do not have a lot of time left in this world. Fearing of becoming a burden is the reason I have yet to create a family. Also, the personality of the princess is like a phoenix soaring above the wind. If not a man of great strength and ambition who could truly be suitable and worthy of her?”
Wow. On the one hand, I’m blown away, because this answer feels sincere; I believe that he still does have feelings for Nihuang, and I do think he’s telling the truth, when he cites his ill health as a reason not to pursue his admiration for her. On the other hand, how masterful is he, to manage to tell his truth without telling his truth?
On Inspector Dong’s way out, she speaks with Marquis Xie (how weird is it, though, that he was personally hiding behind that wall, and snooping on her? I’d have imagined that he would’ve ordered someone to do the snooping for him?). I feel like this could have been a key reason for Inspector Dong’s visit as well.
Inspector Dong lets Marquis Xis know in no uncertain terms that she’s fully aware that he’d sent people to kill her. However, she also tells him that she will not pursue the matter, because he’d done her the favor of bringing home her husband’s remains, when he’d died.
Inspector Dong makes it clear, though, that henceforth, they owe each other nothing – and I love that her polite parting shot is, “好自为之” (hǎozìwéizhī), which roughly translates as “Do what you think is best,” but which has strong undertones of a warning. It feels like she walks away with the upper hand, and I like that.
Meanwhile, the Emperor, mulling over his dilemma over who to appoint to preside over the Duke of Qing’s case (because he knows that both the Crown Prince and Prince Yu have personal agendas that they will further if given the chance), is inspired by Commander Meng’s remark, that, no matter what, the case needs to be managed by someone from the royal family. The Emperor is delighted that Prince Jing’s stubbornly upright nature will fit his purpose perfectly, and makes the decision to appoint Prince Jing to the case.
I’m quite pleased with this development, because this means Prince Jing has a chance to gain credibility in everyone’s eyes, including the Emperor’s. But.. we’ll see how this shakes out. You never know, with court politics, eh?
Mei Changsu visits his newly purchased house with Jingrui and Yujin, and the place turns out to be in a terrible state of disrepair. How intriguing, that Mei Changsu had made this purchase, likely knowing the poor state of the house.
I’m further intrigued, when Yujin falls into a dried up well, and Jingrui goes in to retrieve his jade pendant, only to find a collection of skeletons amid the mud bottom of the well. Innteresting. Did Mei Changsu buy this property knowing about these skeletons, so that he’d be able to bring the case to light, without actually drawing attention to himself? If that’s true, that’s quite genius, since, as a newcomer to Jinling, and as the new owner of the property, it makes perfect sense that he could have nothing to do with a case that’s obviously many years old. I’m definitely curious to see where this goes.
In the meantime, we briefly meet a pair of new characters, Gong Yu, who appears to be a songstress (and whom we’ve seen Yu Jin mention to Jingrui, at the riverbank), and Mr. Thirteen, who appears to be her.. teacher, of sorts? From the way she refers to Mei Changsu as 宗主 (zōngzhǔ), roughly translated as “Chief,” which is the way one would address the leader of a sect, she appears to be part of the Jiangzuo Alliance. Gong Yu seems unusually invested in Mei Changsu’s safety, and I’m beginning to think that she might be nursing feelings for him.
Last but certainly not least, we see that Marquis Xie basically manipulates the Crown Prince into giving an order for Mei Changsu’s assassination, by telling the Crown Prince that it was Mei Changsu who was behind Nihuang’s rescue. Sneaky. And then, he tells his in-law, Zhuo Dingfeng, to test the waters, to see if Fei Liu really is the only one guarding Mei Changsu, saying darkly, “If we cannot have the Divine Talent, we have to destroy it.” This is.. not good. 😬
It seems that Zhuo Dingfeng wastes no time in testing to see whether Fei Liu is Mei Changsu’s only bodyguard. The moment Jingrui leaves Mei Changsu alone to escort Yujin home because Yujin is jumpy after seeing all the skeletons unearthed at Mei Changsu’s newly purchased house, two masked men move (well, fly through the air, really) to attack Mei Changsu, as he walks the remaining distance back to Marquis Xie’s manor.
Fei Liu, who’s always never far from Mei Changsu, and just lurking in the shadows, wastes no time in coming to Mei Changsu’s defense, and the fight is quite extended and robust; the masked men cannot overpower Fei Liu, but they are strong enough fighters, that Fei Liu can’t easily take them down either. It’s only the arrival of Commander Meng, that sends the masked men scurrying, and puts an end to the attempted attack.
What strikes me through this scene, is, 1, Mei Changsu seemed to have anticipated this attack. He knew that he would be attacked if left alone, but he also knew that besides Fei Liu, he could also count on Commander Meng, who regularly visits him at this hour. He’s so finely in tune with how his various chess pieces think, that he can even predict that Marquis Xie would want to get rid of him, after realizing that he’s unlikely to assist the Crown Prince, and 2, Hu Ge’s side profile is startlingly regal, ha.
While Marquis Xie takes delight in Zhuo Dingfeng’s report, that Mei Changsu really only has Fei Liu guarding him, Minister of State Revenue, Lou Zhijing makes a desperate plea to the Crown Prince, to save him from being implicated in the case of the unearthed skeletons.
As it turns out, the deceased previous owner of the house, Zhang Jing, had run a secret brothel out of the premises, which had catered to government officials, who are not allowed to visit regular brothels. And apparently, the skeletons are of the various girls who had died while servicing their customers, who had gotten carried away while playing rough.
Gosh, how rough did these men have to be with these girls, to regularly kill them, while in bed with them?!? 🤯 Under the Crown Prince’s questioning, Minister Lou himself admits to having killed 2-3 girls himself. (What, does he not even remember the number of girls he’d killed??? Ugh. He deserves to quake in his boots. 😠)
We see that the reason that Minister Lou is quaking in his boots, is because Zhang Jing had left a record book behind, which would definitely implicate him in the case.
That record book is now with Zhang Jing’s ex-housekeeper, Shi Jun, who now seeks help and protection from Prince Yu, because Minister Lou’s sent men to try to kill him, for that record book.
As upset and perplexed as the Crown Prince is, Prince Yu is delighted in equal measure, because Minister Lou is one of the Crown Prince’s key men. So, while the Crown Prince cannot wait to hear news of Mei Changsu’s successful demise, Prince Yu is grateful at and impressed by how Mei Changsu has given him such a useful gift, by simply randomly buying a house.
..Which, now that we understand the background of the case, I’d wager that Mei Changsu definitely bought that house on purpose, in order to bring the case to light. That was not a random purchase at all, I’m sure.
Meanwhile, Shi Jun the ex-housekeeper, turns himself in to Magistrate Gao, who is handling the case. Interestingly, he appears to do so under duress, since he’s practically shoved towards the drum, which people beat, when they have a grudge that they want to air to a magistrate. Who’s pulling the strings behind Shi Jun, I wonder? Would it have anything to do with Mei Changsu..?
While this is going on, we see that Mei Changsu has gone ahead to purchase a different house, and this time, it’s a house that’s recommended by Commander Meng. It’s great to see the two friends being able to chat so easily with each other, without having to guard against eavesdropping ears.
Ooh, how interesting, that the key reason that Commander Meng chose this house, is because the back wall of the house, is very near to the back wall of Prince Jing’s residence. This would facilitate any secret meetings that Mei Changsu might need to have with Prince Jing, and yet, it would not arouse suspicion, because the houses are surrounded by enough forest to camouflage their proximity to each other, AND, the front doors face different streets. Well, that’s certainly nifty!
How funny, that Commander Meng innocently tells Mei Changsu, that the only reason he was able to know that the two houses are in the same area, was because he’d jumped into the air to see it. Tee hee. He’s so cute. 😆
We also find out that the words that Commander Meng had said to the Emperor, about the Duke of Qing’s case requiring a member of the royal family to oversee it, were the exact words that Mei Changsu had told Commander Meng to say. Mei Changsu really understands the Emperor so well, to know that this single sentence, would prompt him to assign the case to Prince Jing.
It’s so poignant, though, to hear Mei Changsu explain that it’s precisely because the Emperor doesn’t care about Prince Jing, that it doesn’t matter to him whether Prince Jing offends anyone, while managing the case. I definitely see Mei Changsu’s point, though, about it being time for Prince Jing to step out, and show his capability and talent. If Prince Jing is going to aim for the throne, he definitely needs to earn some credibility.
In the meantime, Prince Yu gets a reality check from Banruo, and realizes that while he’s received some help from Mei Changsu so far, he can’t quite say that Mei Changsu is on his side and working for him. As Banruo points out, Mei Changsu doesn’t appear to be afraid of offending anyone, and only seems to act in his own interests.
Prince Yu comes to the tentative conclusion that Mei Changsu must be testing both him and the Crown Prince, before he makes a choice, and he’s more determined than ever, to win Mei Changsu over to his side.
Marquis Xie’s plan to have Mei Changsu killed goes into full swing, with a fleet of masked men attacking Mei Changsu’s room that night. Jingrui happens to witness it, and I’m pretty impressed that he doesn’t jump in to fight the men straightaway, but bides his time, to see how he might be most useful. That turns out to be wise of him, because while Fei Liu effectively fights off the group of men, Jingrui spots another group on the roof, making their way to Mei Changsu’s chambers.
I’m also impressed that Jingrui’s skills are really good; he appears to be almost as good as Fei Liu, with the way he fights off the second group of men. One manages to slip through the door, to enter Mei Changsu’s chambers, however, and when Jingrui rushes in belatedly, he sees that the man has already been taken care of, and is dead on the floor.
As before, we see that Mei Changsu had anticipated the attack, and had had his righthand man Li Gang (whom we are now meeting for the first time), in the room with him. It’s really quite striking, how calm and unruffled Mei Changsu is, even though there’s just been an attempt on his life. Also, the way he advises Jingrui not to look at the masked man’s face, is so.. soothing.
Jingrui does choose to look, however, and is utterly shocked to realize that the masked man was one of his father’s guards, which means that his father had engineered this attack under his own roof. Poor Jingrui; it really looks like his world is crumbling around him.
Notably, Mei Changsu advises Jingrui to pretend that all this had never happened, and not to think too much about it. It’s clear that Mei Changsu does care about Jingrui, and doesn’t want him to get involved in this entanglement, if he can help it. Jingrui can’t help getting worked up, however, and earnestly asks that Mei Changsu live a carefree life instead of getting involved in political matters.
The way that Mei Changsu answers Jingrui, is gentle, but borderline stern, “You’re not me; don’t make a judgment on my behalf.” In this one single sentence, it feels like Jingrui’s managed to touch a nerve. Mei Changsu may be even and serene most of the time, but we do get glimpses of his true emotions, in moments like this.
Jingrui’s very upset by this new revelation about his father, and Mei Changsu encourages him to stay true to himself, and focus on being able to discern between right and wrong, and real and fake. Afterwards, it’s interesting to note that Mei Changsu remarks to Li Gang, that this is just the beginning for Jingrui, and the he hopes Jingrui will be able to hang on until the end. Hmm. This means that Jingrui does have a place in Mei Changsu’s plans, then?
Mr. Thirteen comes to pay Mei Changsu a visit, and from the way he addresses Mei Changsu as Young Master, it’s safe to assume that Mr. Thirteen had served in the Lin household, when Mei Changsu had been Lin Shu. What an emotional meeting this must be for Mr. Thirteen, since this is the first time he’s seen his Young Master, since the events of 12 years ago had wiped out the Chiyan army.
We learn that Mr. Thirteen and Gong Yu have been operating Miao Yin Court for Mei Changsu, as a cover for keeping an eye on Banruo, whose entertainment house is across the street from them. Ahh. So Mei Changsu’s been keeping tabs on Banruo all this time, from even before he’d come to Jinling. Let no one say that Mei Changsu doesn’t plan ahead!
Mr. Thirteen reports that Hong Court had been created 30 years ago by Princess Xuanji of the previous dynasty, and her student Banruo had inherited everything from her. We learn that Banruo has 15 Ministers’ wives or concubines under her control, and a well-built network of people, wherein Gong Yu has managed to plant some of their own people. Ooh, this is getting complex.
Although Mr. Thirteen offers to destroy Banruo’s network, Mei Changsu states that he wants to keep Banruo around, because she is a useful pawn, who will come in handy, particularly because he can use her to plant messages with Prince Yu, when needed.
Interestingly, when Mr. Thirteen proffers a scent sachet which Gong Yu has prepared for Mei Changsu to help him sleep better, Mei Changsu appears to accept it, but markedly leaves it on the table without touching it. In fact, when Li Gang begins to talk of how Gong Yu care so meticulously for him, Mei Changsu cuts him off by bidding him goodnight, and walking away. Hmm.. I wonder why Gong Yu is such a touchy subject for Mei Changsu..?
Last but not least, Banruo pays a late-night visit to Magistrate Gao, and pleasantly advises him to quickly forward the dry well case to the Ministry of Justice, which would effectively tie the Crown Prince’s hands.
Mei Changsu moves into his new manor, and it’s really nice to see him loosen up a little, now that he’s surrounded by his own people, and is in his own space. The way he tosses a snowball with Fei Liu, and teases his housekeeper, is so gently cheeky; so different from the studied air that we’ve tended to see from him, as he navigates his way among the various political factions.
Notably, the weather has gotten colder, and as a result, Mei Changsu’s general weak constitution becomes more pronounced. Thankfully, he does have the care of a Physician Yan, whom we learn was sent by Lin Chen.
Commander Meng pays Mei Changsu a visit in his new house, and we see that Mei Changsu has a collection of wooden tablets, each representing a ministry or power base. I love how he fingers them, as he thinks about his plans.
In the screenshot below, on the left, we have Prince Yu’s people, made up of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Personnel and Ministry of Public Works, and overseeing the group, the Duke of Qing. On the right, we have the Crown Princes’ people, made up of the Ministry of State Revenue, Martial Affairs and Rites, and overseeing it, Marquis Xie.
We learn that Mei Changsu’s plan is to break down each of these power bases, one by one, in his quest to put Prince Jing on the throne.
I love how, when Mei Changsu feels that he’s dealt with one of the items, he literally tosses the related tablet into the fire, and lets it burn. In this scene, he tosses in the tablets representing the Duke of Qing, and the Ministry of State Revenue. That’s so confident of him, isn’t it? Both cases are ongoing, but he’s just that sure that both are sufficiently taken care of, that they would have no room to turn around and recover.
It’s great how Mei Changsu casually predicts that Prince Yu might not have given up hope on saving the Duke of Qing – and then in the very next minute, Li Gang is announcing Prince Yu’s arrival. Ha. Mei Changsu sure knows his chess pieces well!
It’s brilliant (and also kind of hilarious) how Mei Changsu convinces Prince Yu to give up on the Duke of Qing, and pledge to support Prince Jing instead, while getting him to believe that all these actions serve Prince Yu’s ambitions, rather than Mei Changsu’s. To think that Prince Yu even bows respectfully to Mei Changsu (that’s pretty huge, considering he’s royalty), and pledges to protect him, to thank him for being on his side.
That is nothing short of masterful, and Show even seems to imply, from the way he rubs his fingers together as Prince Yu makes his appeal, that Mei Changsu just came up with this line of argument pretty much on the fly.
Also, how smart of Mei Changsu, to inform Prince Yu that he will pay Prince Jing a visit, to ensure that Prince Jing is aware of just how much Prince Yu is helping him. Aha! Now Mei Changsu has a legitimate reason to visit Prince Jing, and Prince Yu is even thanking him for it. Very, very impressive. 🤩
One of the things I especially enjoy about the outcome of Prince Yu’s visit to Mei Changsu, is how Minister of Justice, Qi Min, is roundly put in his place.
Earlier in the episode, we see that Prince Jing goes to the Ministry of Justice to request for things to be set up for him to oversee the Duke of Qing’s case, as instructed by the Emperor. At this point, Minister Qi, who supports Prince Yu, assumes that his best course of action is to prevent Prince Jing from investigating the case for as long as possible, since the Duke of Qing is so important to Prince Yu. Therefore, it’s really quite funny and satisfying, to see Prince Yu berate Minister Qi for doing things he wasn’t told to do. I guess Minister Qi is going to cooperate exceptionally well with Prince Jing now, eh? 😏
Meanwhile, Marquis Xie is still trying to kill Mei Changsu, with his son-in-law Zhuo Qingyao sending yet another batch of attackers to make another attempt on his life at his new residence. I kinda love how this attempt is given so little importance, that we don’t even see the attack itself; all we see is Mei Changsu continuing to read serenely in his study, while the sounds of fighting permeate the room.
The next day, Mei Changsu pays a visit to Prince Jing as he’d promised to Prince Yu, and as he pauses outside the manor, we get to see a flashback of him and Prince Jing, running together into Prince Jing’s new house, when they’d been in their teens.
They had been best friends, and Prince Jing had told Lin Shu, that what was his, was Lin Shu’s as well. This puts a lot of things into perspective, doesn’t it? After all that we’ve heard Prince Jing say about his best friend, everything takes on a deeper shade of meaning, because we now know that Mei Changsu himself, had been that best friend.
Oof. This layer of poignance is thick indeed. 💔
How shrewd of Mei Changsu, to make the gift of Golden Armor to Tingsheng, be a present from Fei Liu. As he’d predicted, there is no declining the gift, even though Prince Jing expresses discomfort at its value, because that gift is from Fei Liu, and Fei Liu has absolutely no regard for concepts like monetary value.
I am rather amused by the little detail, that Prince Jing takes the longer way around to his study, because his people had been so curious to see Su Zhe in person. That’s quite indulgent of him, isn’t it? I kinda love that he gets caught out by Mei Changsu doing this; that very slight look of vague embarrassment on his face is pretty great, and also, I do think that this ought to break the ice a little, between them.
I do enjoy the way Mei Changsu and Prince Jing debate over the Duke of Qing’s case. It’s presented as an exchange of ideas, and I like that even though Mei Changsu is playing devil’s advocate and bringing out all the possible counterpoints in the case, his tone is gentle and pleasant and the opposite of antagonistic. He makes his point very persuasively, that there is merit to approaching the case with a wider perspective than what Prince Jing had originally been prepared to take.
I like how Mei Changsu helps Prince Jing to see the larger picture, that he needs to adopt a more flexible approach, in order to keep his intentions hidden, and to prevent alliances between households from forming.
Mei Changsu notes Prince Jing’s reticence beneath his acquiescence, and this is when Prince Jing admits that he does not want to appear to be aligned with Prince Yu, nor with the Crown Prince.
When Mei Changsu nudges him, saying that people have long known of how much Prince Jing has suffered, and would not hold this against him, Prince Jing admits that he doesn’t care what other people think; he just really doesn’t want the souls of the noble dead to think that he’s ultimately succumbed to the draw of political power. Now that we know that Mei Changsu himself is, in Prince Jing’s estimation, counted among that noble dead, his answer lands with extra poignance, “Being noble souls, they’ll know your heart.”
Prince Jing doesn’t answer, and Mei Changsu doesn’t press the matter, but gets up to stretch his stiff legs.
That is when he’s drawn to a bow that’s on display in the study and reaches his hand towards it. Prince Jing calls out sharply to Mei Changsu not to touch it, then apologizes, saying that the bow had belonged to his friend, and said friend had not liked strangers touching his things.
Augh. There is so much subtle yet complicated emotion in Mei Changsu’s gaze, as he apologizes. This was his bow, and yet, here he is, apologizing to his best friend – who doesn’t recognize him – for touching it. That pathos inherent in this situation is so.. deep. 💔
While this is going on, Fei Liu’s managed to offend Prince Jing’s men, by casually remarking to Tingsheng that Prince Jing’s not a very good fighter. Oops? This results in a big showdown, and as far as we can tell, Fei Liu’s got the upper hand quite nicely, efficiently throwing down two armed soldiers all on his own.
Also, the Emperor dismisses the Crown Prince and Prince Yu from his presence, after they’ve spent a whole hour squabbling about Minister Lou’s replacement. The Emperor grumbles that none of the candidates are completely satisfactory, and this is when we learn that an official by the name of Shen Zhui is currently taking care of the Ministry of State Revenue.