Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! BE mentioned in the last Open Thread, that he enjoyed my more impressionist take on things, so I thought I’d take a somewhat less blow-by-blow approach this set of episode notes. Let me know whether this works for you guys! Also, doesn’t Mei Changsu look quite incandescent in the candlelight, in this screenshot?
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! ❤️
This episode, Marquis Xie puts pressure on Zhuo Dingfeng and Zhuo Qingyao to get rid of Shen Zhui, and this turns out just as Mei Changsu predicts, in our opening scene.
As Mei Changsu puts it, Zhuo Dingfeng is at a disadvantage, with Marquis Xie exploiting him for political gain, and with them being in-laws, it’s even more difficult for Zhuo Dingfeng to extricate himself from the situation, if he wanted to.
On hindsight, this scene really does feel like foreshadowing, considering the events of the rest of the episode.
..Which is why, looking back, the remark that Li Gang makes, about it being such a shame that warm and pure-hearted Jingrui will be implicated by his father, and the way Mei Changsu muses that the words “可惜” (“kěxí”) which translate as “a pity” or “a shame,” are far from adequate to express Jingrui’s situation, feels so ominous.
By this point of the story, layering on Mei Changsu’s effort to have Gong Yu invited to Jingrui’s birthday party later in the episode, we’re already primed to expect that Jingrui’s birthday party is going to be an Unforgettable Event. 😬
I do love the detail, that Zhen Ping’s takedown of Marquis Yan’s entire list of martial arts experts, takes only a day. Tee hee.
For some reason, this tickles me quite a bit. It’s like Marquis Yan’s Big Collection of Formidable Fighters, which Tianquan Manor has gone to great pains to enlist, turns out to be.. well, nothing much at all, after all.
Also, I got a kick out of Zhen Ping’s disappointment in himself, for not having the foresight to come up with a cool fake name for himself, to duel with. Ahaha. I like him already.
I also just wanted to say, I actually really liked this fight scene, because it feels just flashy enough to be impressive, but it also feels fairly restrained, in the wuxia scheme of things. That restraint adds to the general feel of realism to our drama world, which I appreciate.
It almost goes without saying – though I’ll say it anyway – I found it very satisfying to see Marquis Xie and Zhuo Dingfeng so nonplussed, that their Formidable Fighters have all been defeated and are all injured and out of action for the foreseeable future.
I also find it quite gratifying that they are immediately clear on the fact that it is Mei Changsu who is behind the decommissioning of all their martial arts experts. Although this isn’t Mei Changsu’s main intention, it feels like he’s made an effective point in showing them who’s boss when it comes to Jianghu matters.
Next, we see that Xia Dong makes her way to her husband’s grave in the mountains, and I really like the detail, that Nihuang comes out on horseback, to send her off. It says a lot about Nihuang, that she makes it a point to send off Xia Dong like this, every year.
Nihuang sure has a lot of heart; she understands that this gesture will give Xia Dong some solidarity, on a very painful aspect of her life.
On a tangent, I also really like that we get scenes like this, of Xia Dong and Nihuang on horseback.
It adds to that feel of realism in our drama world, where we’re not just told that they are both strong women; we get to see them casually riding horses, which is something that dainty and delicate women definitely don’t do.
Xia Dong’s always come across as such a strong person, that it’s a little startling, and very poignant, to see her crying at her husband’s grave. Clearly, there is a lot of pain and struggle that she keeps very private.
I’m pretty sure that Mei Changsu isn’t in the mountains for exercise, like he says; I’m fairly certain that he is there specifically to pay his respects to General Nie.
I’m wondering why Mei Changsu would time his visit to General Nie’s grave to coincide with Xia Dong’s visit, and I’m guessing that, even though it’s not his main intent, it would likely smoothen his relationship with Xia Dong, for her to understand that he has a deep respect for her late husband.
There is so much depth of emotion in Mei Changsu’s expression, as he bows before General Nie’s grave. He clearly has an enduring regard for General Nie; even from that quick flashback to the battlefield, we get a sense for the unquestioning trust and comradeship between them.
I don’t think that Mei Changsu’s subsequent conversation with Xia Dong, about the eunuch murder case, was planned, because it’s Xia Dong who first mentions that she has work to do, and thus cannot accompany him.
However, I do think that Mei Changsu takes the opportunity to sound her out, when the opportunity presents itself, and I believe that’s why he made reference to the case.
I like how, when Xia Dong prods Mei Changsu about Jiangzuo Alliance’s possible involvement in the case, Mei Changsu pleasantly invites her to investigate as needed, but also points her towards taking a look at what other Jianghu masters are in the capital, at the moment.
Xia Dong’s already thought along these lines, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have an unofficial official take from the leader of the Jiangzuo Alliance himself.
The appearance of the savage beast (I think we can assume that it was the beast that was watching Xia Dong, at General Nie’s grave), along with Prince Jing’s troops in pursuit of it, felt a bit random, but since there are no random arcs in this show, we can safely conclude that this thing with the savage beast, has a purpose in our overall story.
I do like the little beat, where we see that Qimeng, who had previously insulted Mei Changsu by throwing a flying blade in Mei Changsu’s direction, has now clearly learned his lesson, and is much more tuned in to the possibility that he might have made a mistake.
I like how he’s tuned in enough to Mei Changsu’s expression, to ask Mei Changsu whether he’s said or done anything wrong.
I also like how Mei Changsu is gracious in his answer, and simply advises Qimeng to be careful of his words in the future (and not say things like only Prince Jing takes on thankless tasks like searching for a savage beast), for the sake of Prince Jing’s reputation.
I also like that detail, that it’s Mei Changsu who gives Qimeng the idea of luring the beast with its favorite food, in order to trap it.
I find this very amusing, because it’s not like Mei Changsu is some hunting expert, and yet, neither the guards from the Capital Magistrate’s office, nor Prince Jing’s soldiers, have seemed to hit on this very valid idea.
Our Mei Changsu is just all-around brilliant, it seems; his genius basically extends to whatever he decides to put his mind to.
Zhuo Dingfeng and Zhuo Qingyao trying to kill Shen Zhui is a pretty key arc this episode, mostly because it’s complicated by the fact that Jingrui’s grown suspicious enough of Qingyao sneaking around, that he’s decided to trail him – which is how Jingrui ends up saving Shen Zhui’s life, by basically jumping in front of him, so that the person Zhuo Dingfeng ends up stabbing, is Jingrui, and not Shen Zhui.
Yikes. What a way to find out that one of your fathers is trying to assassinate a new minister who has nothing but a clean reputation.
As Mei Changsu states in the beginning of the episode, it’s difficult for Zhuo Dingfeng to back away from this situation, and even though we can see discomfort and unease in his expression when he asks Marquis Xie why the Crown Prince has to kill Shen Zhui, he seems to feel that he has no choice, but to follow Marquis Xie’s orders.
It’s also interesting to me, that when Jingrui asks Zhuo Dingfeng why he’s trying to kill Shen Zhui, Zhuo Dingfeng not only tells him to stay out of it, he also says that if Marquis Xie were to find out about Jingrui’s interference, even Zhuo Dingfeng himself wouldn’t be able to protect him.
The hierarchy between fathers is so clear, isn’t it?
I won’t talk more about Mei Changsu’s visit to Miao Yin Court to get Gong Yu an invitation to Jingrui’s birthday banquet, since I already mentioned it earlier, but I just wanted to say that I really like this scene, where Mei Changsu is preparing to leave for Miao Yin Court, and we see him gazing at the fish lantern, and thinking back to the time when he and Nihuang had put up lanterns together.
It’s such a rare moment of vulnerability, when Mei Changsu looks a little flustered at the fact that Nihuang’s arrived, and has caught him entertaining fond thoughts of her – even though she can’t possibly read his mind.
I realize that I really enjoy these glimpses that we get, into Mei Changsu’s true feelings, because he keeps them hidden, so much of the time.
I’m glad that Mei Changsu’s thought to have Shen Zhui’s residence heavily guarded by Prince Jing’s soldiers, because otherwise, Shen Zhui’s life would have definitely been in danger.
It really was quite satisfying to see all the troops come out of seemingly nowhere, and trap Zhuo Dingfeng and Zhuo Qingyao in the courtyard.
I just like the idea that Marquis Xie’s plan isn’t succeeding; this will surely send him a strong message, not to mess with Shen Zhui, right?
However, I do feel sorry for Jingrui’s sister Xie Qi, who’s heavily pregnant, and whom we’ve seen has been largely pining for her husband, because he’s always out doing his father-in-law’s dirty bidding.
What a shock it must be for her, to have her husband suddenly coming home with a serious injury that looks like it might possibly kill him.
And, seriously, how heartless is Marquis Xie, that he doesn’t seem to even care, that his son-in-law might be dying, and is only interested to know what went wrong in the assassination attempt?? I hope this turns Zhuo Dingfeng against Marquis Xie, though I’m not sure there is room for him to actually extricate himself now.
Meanwhile, Mei Changsu enlists Prince Yu in a similar fashion, as when he’d gotten Prince Yu involved in Nihuang’s rescue; he presents the illegal fireworks factory case to Prince Yu and nudges him to back Shen Zhui, because this will be a blow to the Crown Prince.
That’s sneakily brilliant, isn’t it? Because, once again, Prince Yu believes that Mei Changsu is helping him, when in actual fact, Prince Yu is the one helping Mei Changsu to achieve what he wants.
I kinda love the fact that Prince Yu’s always so grateful to Mei Changsu, when he’s actually being used. 😝😅
I have to admit, Banruo’s counter-plan, to blow up (literally, ha) the case against the Crown Prince, is an effective one. It’s so evil and heartless, though, to cause so many deaths and injuries, and so much damage, for the purpose of political gain.
I definitely see a glimpse of Prince Yu’s cold and cruel side coming through now, like in the way he describes the situation, saying it’s a pity that lives were lost, but that this was the only way to bring out the full value of the case against the Crown Prince.
Tsk. You can’t think of yourself as magnanimous ruler (wannabe), if you’re killing the people that you’d like to rule!
Of course, our Divine Talent Mei Changsu manages to turn the situation to his advantage, even though this is an unexpected and undesirable development, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
For now, I find Jingrui’s confrontation with Marquis Xie pretty interesting, because while Marquis Xie is furious with Jingrui and even slaps him for being disrespectful, the things that Marquis Xie says, when seen from his perspective, aren’t completely groundless.
It is true that it’s important for Marquis Xie, that the person he’s aligned with, does eventually take the throne.
With political machinations being the way they are, it makes sense that if Prince Yu were to eventually come into power, Prince Yu wouldn’t waste time in getting rid of his enemy’s camp, and Marquis Xie and his family – including the Zhuo family – would be one of the key pieces to eliminate.
Of course, one could argue that Marquis Xie could have just opted to abstain from all the politicking, like Shen Zhui is doing, but as we’ve learned, someone like Shen Zhui is more likely to dwindle in obscurity than be promoted for his honest hard work.
Marquis Xie has too much ambition for that. And so, even though I think Marquis Xie is evil and conniving, his stance actually makes sense to me. His new decision, to actively keep his political involvement a secret from Jingrui, makes sense too.
Poor Jingrui, though; he’s getting more and more disillusioned by just about everyone in his family.
On Mei Changsu’s side of things, I’m impressed (though not surprised) that he would deduce so quickly, that the explosion is the result of human interference, rather than an accident.
Also, props to Li Gang, for being able to correctly conclude (and so quickly, too!), that the person most likely to be behind the explosion, is Prince Yu.
I love that Li Gang’s smart and quick on the uptake; he makes a worthy righthand man to our Divine Talent.
The conversations between Mei Changsu, Nihuang and Prince Jing, at the scene of the explosion, are particularly interesting to me, this episode.
For one thing, if I were Prince Jing, I would be quite suspicious of the fact that Nihuang keeps jumping to Mei Changsu’s defense.
Even though she explains her behavior, saying that Prince Jing’s question-accusation, asking if Mei Changsu was behind the explosion, is offensive to anyone listening, there’s just something so visceral about the way Nihuang defends Mei Changsu, that I feel it’d invite speculation.
Plus, there’s the way she expects Prince Jing’s men to obey Mei Changsu without question, when Mei Changsu says not to report the use of army provisions to the Ministry of Defense, even though this is a breach of protocol.
Again, very suspicious. I wonder if this will nudge Prince Jing to wonder a little bit deeper, about Mei Changsu’s identity? After all, it’s extremely out of character for Nihuang to protect someone vehemently like this, particularly someone she’s supposed to not know very well.
Another thing I find worth mentioning about the conversation, is how we can see that Prince Jing is still adjusting to trusting Mei Changsu.
Given his straightforward personality, it’s not that surprising that he would ask Mei Changsu whether he was behind the explosion, because the way Mei Changsu lays it out, is startlingly detailed and precise.
It is admittedly rare for someone who isn’t involved in the execution of a thing, to be able to trace events and people’s involvement with the kind of accuracy that Mei Changsu has.
Because Prince Jing is still getting to know Mei Changsu, in a manner of speaking, I can understand why he would consider Mei Changsu a possible suspect.
It’s noteworthy, though, that once Mei Changsu clarifies that the explosion was not his idea, Prince Jing does back off and apologize.
Also, how intriguing, that when Mei Changsu stops Prince Jing’s man from reporting the use of army provisions, Prince Jing goes along with Mei Changsu’s request, even though it’s against protocol (and protocol is clearly very important to the straitlaced Prince Jing), and even though he doesn’t yet know Mei Changsu’s rationale.
This means that Prince Jing is learning to trust Mei Changsu implicitly, which is an idea that I like a lot.
I also like Mei Changsu’s rationale on why he wants the use of army provisions to go unreported. It is true, that if Prince Jing does everything according to protocol, no one would know of the good deeds that Prince Jing has done for the people during a time of crisis.
However, if Prince Jing were to get into a little bit of trouble for not reporting the use of the army provisions, it would blow over easily, plus, it would also provide opportunity for righteous officials to speak up for him in court, thus bringing attention to Prince Jing’s exemplary handling of a crisis situation.
Talk about a small tweak reaping big rewards.
In particular, I like Mei Changsu’s answer, when Prince Jing expresses discomfort at doing good deeds in order to gain attention, “If you did things for others to see, then it’s a problem of your moral character, but if no one knew of your good deeds, then it’s a failure on my part as your advisor.”
Very well said! And, it does look like Mei Changsu’s given Prince Jing a lot of food for thought as well.
How interesting, that in the scene where the Emperor hears the details of the factory explosion case, Prince Yu does not act as the Crown Prince expects.
Even though Noble Consort Yue’s plan makes a kind of sense, for the Crown Prince to get his planted advisors to have Prince Yu aggressively attack the Crown Prince and push for his punishment, thus triggering the Emperor’s suspicion, Mei Changsu is clearly one step ahead (or ten!).
Instead of pushing for the Crown Prince to be deposed, Prince Yu earnestly asks for the Emperor to have mercy on the Crown Prince, thus triggering the Emperor’s wrath – and a harsh judgment on all involved in the case.
Hur. At this moment, doesn’t it seem like everyone in the race kinda knows how to push the Emperor’s buttons to get what they want? If Mei Changsu hadn’t interfered, Noble Consort Yue’s plan would have pushed a different set of buttons, and gotten a different result, I feel like.
I also just wanted to say that I love Shen Zhui in this scene. The way he responds when the Emperor asks him if there is evidence to refute the Crown Prince’s story, that everything was his clerk’s doing, is so subtly brilliant.
“From the split of profit every year, for 5 years, Lou Zhijing always got 2 tenths, while Han Li got 8 tenths. I just think that this Han Li must be quite extraordinary, for a clerk employed by the Crown Prince, a small sub 4th rank official, to be able to reduce the profit of a 2nd rank official, a Minister of State Revenue, to such a degree.”
Muahaha. I love it. What a clever good egg Shen Zhui is.
That scene of the Crown Prince throwing a tantrum while under house arrest in Guijia Palace, is pretty great, especially when he gets further aggravated by the report that instead of getting into trouble because of the report by the Ministry of Defense, Prince Jing got praised by the Emperor instead.
How curious, that Banruo seems so intent on visiting Mei Changsu’s manor. I wonder what she has in mind, because surely she isn’t as interested in his decor as she claims.
And how presumptuous of Prince Yu to show up uninvited at Mei Changsu’s residence, and with Banruo in tow, no less, when Mei Changsu has other invited guests at his house. I guess royalty can do things like that, and not have it be considered rude, though I do think it’s rude.
Just because you’re royalty doesn’t mean people enjoy your company.
I wonder what Mei Changsu has in mind, devising that treasure hunt for his guests, and what Banruo has in mind, snooping around.
She’s definitely not interested in that rare music score like Yujin and Xia Chun are. I’m also not sure whether to be worried, when Banruo comes upon that false wall / hidden door. Has Banruo stumbled on something she shouldn’t have, or is this also part of Mei Changsu’s plan?
As it turns out, Mei Changsu had created that treasure hunt with a purpose, and that was to invite people – like Xia Chun and Banruo – to snoop around and have them come up empty.
Apparently, Mei Changsu’s remodeled his house sufficiently, that the secret passage to Prince Jing’s manor, is now well disguised. Ooh. That’s certainly one way of neutralizing any suspicions that people might have towards him.
And, the plan is effective, too. Banruo does happen on the secret chamber, but does not clue in to the hidden passage which is hidden within the secret chamber. It’s kinda like.. our current-day two-factor authentication, isn’t it? 😆
Anyway. I am pleased that Banruo comes out of this looking suitably contrite and embarrassed, and I’m also rather glad that Prince Yu is vaguely displeased by her actions, even though he tells her that there’s no need to apologize.
Prince Yu is right; Banruo’s sneaky behavior does make Prince Yu look like he’d gone to Mei Changsu’s manor with a hidden agenda. Well, maybe it’s time Prince Yu rethinks how implicitly he ought to trust Banruo?
I kinda love how huffy Nihuang and Commander Meng are, sneaking back into Mei Changsu’s manor, after bidding an official farewell, and demanding to know what on earth Mei Changsu is thinking, allowing people to ransack his house like that.
It amuses me, that even though these two know Mei Changsu well, they still can’t grasp his thoughts and plans, until he unveils it to them.
..Which is what happens next – again – when Mei Changsu tests Commander Meng with the suggestion that Commander Meng accompany him through the secret passageway, to visit Prince Jing. Commander Meng agrees readily, only to be shot down by both Mei Changsu and Nihuang.
It’s rather odd, actually, that Commander Meng has been under the impression that Prince Jing knows about Mei Changsu’s true identity, since Mei Changsu has been emphatic about keeping his identity a secret from the start.
However, I rationalize that in Commander Meng’s eyes, if Prince Jing has agreed to work with Mei Changsu, it’s natural that this truth would be shared.
The way Mei Changsu explains it, however, it really is better for Prince Jing not to know.
Although I get Commander Meng’s pure-hearted desire for Prince Jing to know that Mei Changsu is, in fact, his long-lost best friend Lin Shu, Mei Changsu’s point – that the reason Prince Jing is collaborating so well with him now, is because he doesn’t need to care about how the plans affect Mei Changsu, and only needs to focus on whether the plans are beneficial – makes a lot of sense.
I would believe Mei Changsu’s point, that if Prince Jing were to know his identity, he’d be too concerned with keeping Lin Shu safe, to be properly focused on the goal of winning the throne.
And, given that this is a dangerous undertaking, they simply cannot afford for Prince Jing to be distracted, particularly by something like this, that would hit him at such an emotional level.
I do appreciate that emotional beat, where Mei Changsu raises his voice just a touch, to defend the way Prince Jing looks upon him.
It is true, that Prince Jing only sees Mei Changsu as a strategist, and therefore, has the right to test him or treat him with suspicion as he sees fit. I just like this idea, that Mei Changsu would get (even a little bit) worked up about it, and defend Prince Jing, because he’s typically so calm and controlled.
I also like Mei Changsu’s point, that while Prince Jing might not be good at power play, it is precisely this quality of his, that will make him a good and wise Emperor.
It’s really sad, though, the way Mei Changsu talks about having crawled out of hell, and poison having seeped into his bones, and that’s why he should be the one to do all the insidious and vicious deeds.
It’s as if he’s saying, he’s already thoroughly poisoned physically, so he might as well absorb the moral poison as well, on Prince Jing’s behalf. 😭
I’m suitably intrigued by the reveal that we get, from Banruo’s conversation with Prince Yu, that Grand Princess Liyang had once been in love with a prince from Southern Chu, who had been sent as a hostage to Jinling.
Piecing that tidbit together with the fact that Grand Princess Liyang had married Xie Yu soon after the hostage prince had left Jinling, it’s not that much of a stretch to guess that Jingrui could be that hostage prince’s son?
And maybe that’s why it was so important, to have Grand Princess Liyang married off, because she’d been pregnant?
Ohhh. Well if that’s true, it would explain why Marquis Xie seems so harsh on Jingrui?
I kinda love the fact that the first time we see the secret passageway being used, it is Prince Jing that makes the first move to seek out Mei Changsu, and in the early pre-dawn hours, no less.
This gives me a good amount of satisfaction, because now we can see that Prince Jing’s trust in Mei Changsu is growing. He absolutely feels the need to speak with Mei Changsu before leaving on his 3-day trip to Xishan to oversee the defense rotations, on the Emperor’s orders, and that urgency of his, pleases me.
How intriguing, that the urgent matter which Prince Jing wishes to consult Mei Changsu on, is the marriage alliance with Southern Chu that Concubine Jing had heard about.
It’s rather surprising to me, actually, that Mei Changsu would have such a ready, simple answer to Prince Jing’s conundrum at being a likely candidate for the marriage alliance.
He tells Prince Jing that all they need to do, is make sure Prince Jing’s 八字 (“bāzì”) literally, eight characters (this refers to an astrological concept that a person’s destiny is determined by the characters assigned to their birth year, month, day and hour; more details can be found here) doesn’t match the princess’s.
This seems like a bit of an anticlimax, for Prince Jing taking such a big step to seek him out like this.
However, this does provide Prince Jing with further evidence that Mei Changsu is way more prepared than one might expect, and also, an opportunity to probe further, why Mei Changsu would choose to support an unfavored prince such as himself.
The sense that I get from this conversation, is that Prince Jing is testing Mei Changsu, somewhat.
Although Mei Changsu deftly goes back to his original claim, which is that he would best prove his mettle as a strategist by successfully putting an unfavored prince on the throne, it definitely feels like Prince Jing isn’t quite buying what Mei Changsu is telling him.
On another note, I feel like Mu Qing breaking down the tally between the Crown Prince and Prince Yu, and concluding that both princes are losing key personnel in the fight with each other, is good foreshadowing for what happens next, with the Emperor’s dilemma over whom to appoint as the next Minister of Justice.
As Xia Dong puts it to Nihuang and Mu Qing, with the fight between the two princes being so fierce, they’d both rather see a neutral party take up any vacated positions, than see their rival’s personnel take them.
This is exactly what the Emperor does, in selecting Cai Quan to be the next Minister of Justice. I’m pretty sure, though, that Prince Jing must have been coached ahead of time by Mei Changsu, to mention vaguely that he’s only worked with the Ministry of Justice once, for the Duke of Qing’s case – which is what prompts the Emperor to remember that the case had been written very well, and then seek out the person who’d written that case.
Again, this is just the sort of obtuse prompting that seems to work best with the Emperor, because it pleases him to think that he came up with the idea all on his own, and this is exactly the artful manipulation of the Emperor, that Mei Changsu seems particularly adept at.
Maybe it’s because Prince Jing is a bit of a stiff actor; the Emperor’s chief eunuch Gao Zhan seems to regard Prince Jing with a touch of wariness, in this scene. I wonder if / how this might factor into the way Gao Zhan speaks of Prince Jing with the Emperor, going forward?
How curious, that we end the episode with Commander Meng finding a way to “accidentally” discover the secret passageway in Prince Jing’s study. This is all so clumsily executed, that it doesn’t seem like something that Mei Changsu has endorsed, right?
My first thought is that Commander Meng just doesn’t want to be left out among his friends (ha), but let’s see.
Meanwhile, the Emperor happens on the back wall to Concubine Jing’s quarters, and decides to pay her a visit, after having conveniently forgotten her for the many years since Consort Chen’s and Prince Qi’ deaths.
Ahh.. It looks like Concubine Jing might soon be brought out of the shadows, doesn’t it?
Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
I am catching up with the group watch after 2 weeks of break. Thank you, KFG and everyone for your comments and analyses.
@phl1rxd 😆 But I should be doing a little better keeping track starting this week. I got off track because I couldn’t stop myself and watched straight through to Episode 21 as soon as Kfangirl opened the gate for the NIF rewatch. (The birthday episode was drawing me like a moth to the flame.) I’ve been waiting and having to use my memory and whatever you and Kfangurl summarized, and others’ comments. But now I’ll watch at the pace of the rewatch so maybe things will stay in my memory enough to keep up with who’s who as everyone comments.
@phl1rxd – I got it from somebody’s comment. I think it was Kfangurl, but I’m not sure, and I probably misunderstood it anyway. As I said, I was pretty drowsy when I was reading that day. (You’ve got enough twisty stuff to unravel for us with NIF. Don’t bother with my twisted thinking 😆)
@phl1rxd – got it. Thanks
@phl1rxd – Wait a minute. Maybe I misunderstood something because of my poorly keeping up with the names (and I was really drowsy while reading the comments earlier). I know that Jingri’s biological mom who is married to the Rapist Pig (Xie?), and she is also the Emperor’s sister, was impregnated by the Rico Suave Prisoner, but somewhere along the lines, I got the impression that another Royal also received Rico’s “favor”?
@Beez – LOL – no other royal received political hostage Rico’s favor. GP Liyang was the only recipient of his affections.
HA! That’s exactly what he wants you to think, the hound…
(I kid! I kid!)
You are funny Trent! You have a great sense of humor. That made me laugh.
@ Beez – AHA! I think I know why you think another royal was involved. Jingrui’s sister (Pushy Princess Nian Nian) has a mother but that mother is from Southern Chu (Jingrui’s father married post-hostage period after he returned home) and not related to any of our Liang royals.
@ Beez – AHA! I think I know why you think another royal was involved. Jingrui’s sister (Pushy Princess Nian Nian) has a mother but that mother is from Southern Chu (Jingrui’s father married post-hostage period after he returned home) and she not related to any of our Liang royals.
Oy! I just realized that I replied to myself – LOL! Re-posted to you Beez.
@phl1rxd – The Empress’ sister also had a fling with this Notorious Prisoner?! I totally missed that. Sounds like he was a smooth criminal and got around quite a bit in the Royal courts. I’m assuming that means he was more of a political pawn type prisoner or do you have info on why he was being held and why held so loosely?
As to “the sniffling, sobbing Crown Prince’ …” Did I leave out the words “blubbering slob”? I was sure I would’ve… Oh well, I must’ve just thought it. 😆
@Beez – I am laughing at your comment – blubbering slob! Ha! Seems like the first job requirement for a Prince or Minister is be able to cry on your knees. I so loved your ‘catch phrases’ on the original NIF comment section.
As for Grand Princess Liyang – yep- if you go to the next post (E19, E20 and E21) there is info on this affair and on him. I even added the Author’s notes on GP Liyang’s background on this. Yes, he was a political pawn type of prisoner. It is in a reply to BE. I am hoping that my comment to BE answers your questions!
It is going to be humming on next week’s post!
Sorry for the delay – I got hit with a big job that took up a lot of my time.
E17 – When MCS asks Prince Yu to help Minister Shen Zhui and he begins only to meet resistance from Banruo. First, she is still smarting from the MCS smack down and second, she wants to sow seeds of doubt in Prince Yu’s mind about MCS. Whatever the reason she is beginning to push back on MCS.
I officially hate the Marquis after he smacks Jingrui. Poor, poor Jingrui…and it only just begun.
I sometimes try to imagine what it is like to be in MCS’ mind. A brilliant military strategist, a noted scholar, a fierce warrior – Lin Shu.
Minister Shen Zhui has steel cajones to stand in front of the Emperor to report on the factory with the Crown Prince in attendance. Crown Prince is banished to the Guijia Palace, thirty official were implicated and our own dear and very good Minister Shen Zhui was promoted to take over the Ministry of Revenue and frankly, I am relieved he is driving that car! As Beez says ‘the sniffling, sobbing Crown Prince’ has gone down, well, sniffling and sobbing.
Banruo is such a snake and manages to get herself an invite to the Su mansion house warming party via Prince Yu. This ‘aughta be good folks especially as MCS already somehow knows she is coming that clever man! The best part is that he gives her the ‘maloik’ as he passes her – I love this.
Notice how MCS works his party crowd like a master puppeteer. He lays down some bait for Xia Dong with the Zhuo son question to Jingrui. He mentions a treasure hunt for the long lost score of Ji Kang.
Nihuang is petrified. Jingrui is depressed. Xia Chun is determined. Fei Liu is…is….missing.
DID YOU KNOW…
E18 – The score that was hidden would certainly be a treasure as this composer lived from 223–262 AD. Nihuang – I just love how she supports him always.
Poor Meng Zhi – he fails to get the big picture and when he insists that MCS just tell Prince Jing who he is. Excerpt from novel: Meng Zhi sighed. “Bad at trickery and tactics [schemes], bad at adapting to change, and valuing friendship and loyalty too highly – these have always been Prince Jing’s faults. Source
On a personal note hearing MCS give this speech is breaking my heart. Novel Excerpt- These [Lin Shu’s] hands had once tamed horses and wielded swords, had once bent a bow to shoot down great birds of prey. And now, they had abandoned the reins, and relinquished the bows, and could only sit in this dim inferno, stirring the winds. Source
No wonder he gets so sick just from the stress of it all, not to mention his illness. As each episode goes by, I am more and more in his camp, rooting for him. They discuss Prince Qi – the true noble Prince and his lofty goals for the country. But Meiling and its aftermath meant a terrible end.
I am really interested that Banruo brings up the Prince from Chu who was sent as a hostage 20 years ago who was rumored to have had an affair with the Emperor’s sister and Jingrui’s mother, Grand Princess Liyang. I am with you Fangurl on that it does not look good.
When Prince Jing stops by to let MCS know he is away on military duty for a few days and to discuss how to avoid a marriage against his will. Note that when Prince Jing asks if MCS knows his brother he does not mean that literally, only figuratively. Now this is a hard question and one that shows that Prince Jing has been thinking all of this over and is looking for reasons to explain MCS’s selecting him.
Cai Quan will be taking over the Ministry of Justice and both MCS and Prince Jing will be very happy over this as he is highly ethical. Cai Quan is independent.
Smart Gao Zhan – let’s steer the Emperor towards the ladies. Note this is one of my favorite outfits that the Emperor has as the colors are stunning. On the way they talk about Consort Yueyao (Consort Chen) and how sick she was after giving birth to Prince Qi (Jingyu). You can see the fear on Goa Zhan’s face. The Emperor goes on to say that he knows that no one dares to speak of Consort Chen and her son Prince Qi. Well, we know that Prince Qi’s entire household was wiped out so I would say, yeah, poor little Goa Zhan is probably working up a sweat right about now.
DID YOU KNOW…
@BE – yup to everything you said but it’s exactly this type of thinking that I fear when I watch a beloved show one to many times so I begin to see the cracks that I never noticed the first (few) time(s).
@Geo – I hadn’t even thought about the results of a divorce! Probably because for my parents’ generation, in my family, divorce was unthinkable! So the wed-although-related-by-marriage couples that I mentioned in my family never faced that situation. I have no idea what happened by the time my own generation reached marrying age because I can’t think of any one couple that’s still together… not one.
@BE – I actually found it on YouTube – SHAMEFUL! 😆
A “Twist” dance rhythm…just sayin’.
And produced by the New Orleans piano legend Allen Tousaint. Hear him on the break! Professor Longhair’s adopted intellectual son–metaphorically speaking.
Ah, “how could she stoop so low.”
A welcome surprise to see Allen Toussaint mentioned. A tremendous talent.
@BE – LOLOLOLOL Now I’ve got to try to find a recording of that on YouTube.
@phl1rxd – I usually ignore actors’ personal stance on issues, otherwise it might affect how I enjoy their performance. As an example, I totally disagree with Gina Carano’s viewpoint (especially the Covid19 is a hoax and masks should not be required) but I’m a fan of her work and especially like her in the Mandalorian. I was greatly dismayed at her dismissal from the series (so glad she’ll be back) because 1) in America we aren’t supposed to penalize people (cancel culture) for their free speech and 2) because she’s perfect for that character 😊. So unless an actor’s personal stance really has influence or makes a difference to an issue (if my paying to see their performance contributes funds to support something heinous (slavery, oppression, etc.) – then I would stop watching and supporting their projects. Otherwise, I ignore their personal politics and enjoy what they bring entertainment-wise.
@Beez – that is wise way to look at it Beez. Lots have changed since we were young.
@Trent – Wow. I had only heard of the issues with the actors’ political views regarding Hong Kong and not the other, even more controversial, issues but I will say this – despite my ignorantly only watching to enjoy the story of Mulan – I didn’t. 😔
You know, when MCS started talking about how he, as advisor, is willingly taking on the moral squalor of whatever schemes are necessary to elevate Prince Jing and allow the Prince to soar on a more noble plane (I’m paraphrasing here, obviously), I could not help but flashback to Kang Pil-joo and the long discussions that many of us had during the Money Flower watch.
Although their positions are obviously not exactly the same, I nevertheless definitely discerned meaningful echoes between and among those two characters in such disparate dramas: the brilliant, wronged prodigy, relegated to a subservient position in strict disguise, devoting himself single-mindedly to doing whatever it takes to achieve his goal, eschewing the luxury of moral preening, yet sublimating their own essential goodness in the person of another figure whose hopes and prospects they are committed to protecting or advancing (Prince Jing for MCS; Na Mo-hyun for Kang Pil-joo). Maybe I’m stretching with the comparison, but I’m really feeling it, I tell you.
Also, as a tangent, and harking back to the discussion of “wuxia” and “jianghu” that we were having during the early episodes, because it’s at least somewhat relevant to the plot and literary context of this show–this is a pretty interesting article about the cultural and political context of wuxia as a literary and dramatic genre, just posted over on tor.com (a SFF publishing site) by Jeanette Ng, an author and self-described “lover of wuxia”:
Thanks for that link Trent – the notes at the bottom were as interesting as the article.
The same author had probably the best–or at least most interesting/thought-provoking–commentary I’ve come across on the recent live-action Disney film Mulan, in an article in Foreign Policy magazine:
Ah Trent – It is funny that you linked this. She really tore it up in that article with some thought provoking background. The best line was “…messy, confused, and boring film”. I did watch this film out of curiousity (this required a $20+ purchase). I personally found the movie quite uninspiring and dull.
I was confused by DY’s stance as well. I had been his long time fan for years. I had a conversation about DY/this movie with my son-in-law just the other night where he said “You really do not know what goes on behind the scenes, so do not be too disappointed in him”. Food for thought Trent. Thanks for the link!
Thanks…I was (am) worried that I’m getting too political (even if only indirectly, by posting links to possibly provocative material).
But that said, I really do get interested in the pressures and fault lines that I’m only dimly aware of as a Western observer. I know that there are live political issues in China and the Sinosphere (my clumsy term for the broad umbrella of places and peoples directly influenced or impacted by China’s cultural and/or political power) that have to have a bearing on the actions and attitudes of those in the “creative arts”–actors, writers, directors, etc.
Two particularly obvious current examples are the situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
More than once I’ve found myself thinking what life is like for Dilraba Dilmurat (the female lead in The Long Ballad, which some here might have seen at least parts of). I don’t know anything about her, really, except she’s apparently quite a well-known actress and celebrity endorser in the last several years, and she’s also Uyghur. That has to be a nigh-impossible needle to thread, and yet…
@Trent I totally see what you mean re Mei Changsu and Kang Pilju! I’m all over it (of course I am, you’re bringing me back to Jang Hyuk and, as Leslie pointed out on another thread, all roads lead back to Jang Hyuk 😉) Now I’ll be very curious to see how MCS emotional arc will go as I still stammer over KPJ being as I am, conditioned to expect growth in my protagonists. However, perhaps unlike Kang Pilju, Mei Changsu seems – despite his hidden agenda and identity – to still be able to make healthy, meaningful relationships. He is, perhaps, more willing to retain Lin Shu’s personality traits that draw people to him, whereas Jang Euncheon was so stymied by Kang Pilju’s persona, he was fixed as aloof. It’s like Mei Changsu can’t help but like people and in return, they trust him. I think in this way it may be MCS will be more likely to achieve his goals without sacrificing his soul, whatever he may say he’s willing to do – but (I’m preparing myself) he’s more likely to end up sacrificing his life. Ah, but I do love these type of characters – strategists who are emotionally strangled by their clear-sighted, righting-wrongs goals. I don’t know what that says about me, but, hey, I’m clearly not alone here 😊
I think you are correct about the differences between them. Already we have seen that MCS is concerned with issues of morality and doing what is right, notwithstanding his dedication to his ultimate goal and his little speech about doing the “dirty work” so Prince Jing can soar above it all.
These three episodes were a nuanced watch for me. Episode 16 was interesting enough, but followed by episode 17, which I found pretty much boring (forgive me, NIF mega-fans!), and then there was episode 18, which I thought was great.
So all is well again!
-What does the evil Marquis Xie have on the Zhuo family that both father + son do all his dirty work? They both look like pretty decent persons, why are they aiding him? After watching episodes 17 and 18, I really wish they will find a way to free themselves.
Poor Jangrui, he must be so confused right now. His dad is doing his dad’s dirty work.
-Why is XiaDong so touched that MCS pays respect to her husband’s grave? Is it because noone does because he’s considered to be a traitor?
-I want to see if we’ll see this beast again too, because to me it seemed more of like a person. To be honest, I thought it was a man in fur clothes running about.
-I loved those lanterns!
-I am no expert in traditional Chinese music instruments, but to me it didn’t seem that the instrument that Gong Yu plays can sound like that. Any experts on that?
Jingrui is such a decent person and a good brother. I hope this will all end well for him.
On the contrary, Prince Yu is not a decent person. I think he’s far more competent than the Crown Prince, who I cannot possibly understand the reason why he has the Emperor’s favour, but what a jerk decision to make the firework factory explode. That was simply cruel.
I can’t blame MCS for backing Prince Jing. He’s the best person, though I wonder how he can lead an Empire without MCS guiding him. If only MCS were in pristine health it would be alright, but after he’s gone, who’s going to help him?
I loved how Nihuang took offence on behalf of MCS. And I also wonder if Jing will suspect there’s something going on.
I was amused by all the talk about bureaucracy in this scene; and how to use it to get what you want!
I really like Shin Ze; he’s not a person to hide his thoughs and be diplomatic. That for me was the highlight of the episode: Shin Ze’s train of thougts leading to why the Crown Prince must have been implicated in the firework factory case.
And I like Li Gang. Doctor Watson indeed!
I’m pretty sure it was MCS’s plan that Banruo would find the secret room. I don’t know why, though.
I really wonder what’s the relationship between Prince Yu and Banruo. She seems really loyal to him, and she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would ever be loyal to anyone. To be honest, I like her, as I like the other baddie of this show, the evil Marquis, although he was a big bully in these episodes (to his son and in-laws) and ticked me off.
There was this scene in this episode, where Prince Yu talks to the person announcing to him that the spot in the Ministry of Justice is taken, and when he leaves Banruo comes, that really remind me (she reminded me) of a big spider lurking in the shadows. I can’t explain why, but I got the chills just from this scene.
I loved the explanation given by MCS why Jing must not find out. Very solid reasons.
I was also intrigued about Grand Princes Liang backstory. I hadn’t made the connection to Jingrui, though. You are right, this may be why they were in such a hurry to marry her off. I kind of wish that is the case, because I like Jingrui and it is too bad for him to have such a poor selection of dads! (the Evil Marquis or the spineless martial artist).
My favourite scene in this episode: Jing prompting the Emperor in naming Cai Quan as Minister of Justice. He’s learning! Although it is certain that the master eunuch has understood and I wonder where he’s standing in the fight between the two Princes. I am sure that if either the Crown Prince or Yu find out that Cai Quan is (sort of) Jing’s man, things will get rough for our favourite prince…
… who, by the way, isn’t supposed to be married? Why would Southern Chu want to marry off a Princess with Liang’s married Princes? As second wives?
The whole interaction between Jing and Meng was clumsy, not just Meng. To be honest, I thought they were both acting in order to get Meng alone inside.
And the Emperor remembering concubine Jing is still around… This will also contribute to Prince Jing’s being elevated in the Court’s hierarchy, I am sure.
That was, really, a very intriguing episode!
I think the Southern Chu Princess wouldn’t marry one of the Big Princes. I thought they mentioned some other small prince as the possible husband. But maybe I’m wrong.
Yes, there was this discussion between concubine Jing and another consort, and although I think there was a problem with Viki subtitles, they mentioned that the princes concerned were her sons and Jing. Now I don’t know about the other two, but I am pretty sure at a certain point Prince Yu was trying to get Jing to accept gifts for his wife (Jing’s). Anyway, why would Southern Chu want to marry off their princess to a lesser Prince. But then again, maybe there are 20 princesses in Southern Chu so they can afford giving up a couple!
I haven’t figured out though why concubine Jing is so against Jing being the groom to be.
Maybe Consort Jing is hoping her son Prince Jing can snag a more important Princess from somewhere.
Prince Jing has a concubine, but does not have a main wife, which makes him eligible for the marriage alliance.
I discussed this with my mom (who’s seen the show 6x), and her take for the reason Concubine Jing and Prince Jing are not in favor of him being part of this alliance, is because of his quest for the throne.
If he becomes emperor, his main wife would become empress, and this would make a Southern Chu princess the empress of Liang, which is not desirable, because historically things have been very tense between the two states (which is why there was a hostage prince to begin with). I hope that helps! 😃
I think you mom is right… This sounds like a very plausible reason for avoiding this marriage.
Also, thank you for clarifying he’s not married; one can never be sure with Viki subtitles… It just puzzles me now that he wasn’t even considered as a possible match for Nihuang at the beginning of the show, but maybe she’s deemed too good for him (or the Emperor thought that him marrying Nihuang would give him an unwanted advantage).
In regards to your questions:
Q: What does the evil Marquis Xie have on the Zhuo family that both father + son do all his dirty work?
A: Nothing in particular other than they are family but I think we all agree that it needs to end. The Zhuo family is on a slippery slope.
Q: Why is XiaDong so touched that MCS pays respect to her husband’s grave? Is it because no one does because he’s considered to be a traitor?
A: You are exactly correct in that he is considered a traitor – also Xia Dong truly and deeply loved her husband
Q: I am no expert in traditional Chinese music instruments, but to me it didn’t seem that the instrument that Gong Yu plays can sound like that. Any experts on that?
A: I believe she is playing the pipa (not very well I might add) which sounds completely different from the guqin.
Cai Quan is one of my favorite characters and proves his worth in future episodes. He is a gem. Your comparing Banruo to a spider made me laugh out loud. Good job you Natalie! I may have mentioned it before, but in the novel Prince Yu did want to take Banruo as a concubine but she flatly refused as she is devoted to her work.
Thank you dear!
As I said, I find Banruo to be one of the most intriguing characters, I’m really looking forward to seeing what she’s up to!
Also, it’s 7 am and I’m researching Chinese music instruments!!
Although this show is not quite my jam, it is pretty addictive. Wednesday evening you will find me binge-watching the next 3 episodes and making a few notes. Production values and acting is good, plot is carefully constructed, dubbing is atrocious of course.
Next 3 episodes manukahoe!
sorry about the misspelling joe. my eyes are hopeless.
@KFG: Thanks for the comments on these episodes.Between you and phl1rxd, I am really enjoying the viewing experience. While I haven’t had a lot of time to comment, I do read all the posts and learn new things even on my 2nd watch. I was so confused by the Jingrui issue on first watch but this time, I’m more alert to all the clues I missed the first time. It is so important to pay attention to almost everything said or observed, I can’t think of any red herrings in this show. Almost everything said or done has some significance in the future.
I’m still not clear on Nihuang’s title, whether Princess or Duchess. I thought this was resolved in earlier discussions and she was a Princess. However, I noted in one discussion among Nihuang and two other individuals, one addressed her as Princess while the other person said Duchess almost simultaneously. It doesn’t seem like the subber would make such a mistake in the same translation? So is Nihuang a Princess to some and a Duchess to others?
Hi Geo – For what its worth, I just found this excerpt from the book which may help: Nihuang and the rest of the Ming-cousins are all ‘junzhu’, which some people translate as Duchess. Source
Thank the stars for your summaries, kfangurl – and for your impressions. Of course we love them! I sometimes wonder what are things that struck you in the moment and what are things you’re foreshadowing for us newbies. Hmmm…
Now I’m so very muddly on who’s related to who in the Xie household and now you’ve added a new dimension in mentioning the Southern prince who died may actually be Jingrui’s father and not either of the other two at all! I actually hope this is true (and that it turns out the Southern prince was *good*) because I don’t like Marquis Xie or Zhou Dingfeng and Jingrui deserves so much better. Please let him be OK. I also agree with phl1xrd that Zhou junior is very dishy and I want him to stay home with his lovely pregnant wife and not keep trying to kill poor, honourable Shen Zhui 😂
I am also suspecting Banruo is maybe not entirely all she seems – though she does keep massaging Prince Yu’s shoulders so she may well actually be in love with him… I think she’s got plans, like Mei Changsu, and is very busy plotting beneath her cool eye-flick exterior.
I’m actually a bit scared of the Emperor’s grey-haired righthand man. There’s something extremely observant about him that worries me…
This beast – wasn’t it just a guy wrapped in fur?! What is that about?! Just send Fei Lui or new awesome fighter Zhen Ping to hunt *it* down.
We are certainly building up to that party. Eek, what’s going to happen?!! Eek, what gorgeous outfits are they all going to wear?!! And eek-eek-de-eek, can Gong Yu fake-play a bit more convincingly?!!
@ph1lrxd and ele nash: maybe not dishy like Lan Jie as Zhou the Younger, but certainly very handsome, almost epitomizing mature movie star, masculine good looks, Liu Hao Jen, that dang Ding Feng fellow.
I should add looking up both their bios, father and son in real life, as with the entire casting it seems, are the exact same age. From photos Lan Jie does appear to be more handsome than Liu Hao Jen, but they certainly do a good job with make up on the fellow.
Wow BE – that is really interesting. Zhuo father looks much older in this role.
I think the thing about rewatching and then discussing an episode not wanting to give away spoilers with this show in particular is that show is so labyrinthine unless you have seen it on several occasions as with the case of phl1rxd, it is not so much necessarily that one (K in this instance) is intentionally foreshadowing info, but rather seeing info in a different light the second time around as it hits you or paying attention to info that might have slipped by you on first watch.
For me, for example, I had not the first time I watched it realized I had any info whatsoever given me about Banruo’s backstory, but seeing the events of these episodes, having a glimmer into it already revealed this watching go round gives me a very different take on her than others who in first view like me might have lost that tidbit of info in the overwhelming amount of detail being taken in on first watch.
So much is going on in this show, things can be hard to sort out, like the relations between the members of Jingrui’s family, the interesting (see beez’ comment below) phenomenon of Zhou’s son being married to Xie’s daughter and where Jingrui, especially given the strange story already told about his birth and which mother’s son did not live leading to his becoming the son of both fellows, fits in especially. And thus this whole episode 18 bit about southern Chu and a twenty year old scandal involving Princess Liyang and how that relates to her marriage to the Marquis (and the shenanigans involved there) in the first watch or even the second, to be honest, can be a bit confusing example of too much monkey business to be involved in. Certainly given the foreboding going on in these episodes of our stalwart young man, forehadowing sure seems likely.
In re Gong Yu on her axe. Yes a flaw in show since she is being considered such a rock star. This was a problem in direction. But also having heard some guquin playing recently, show does not seem to feature the playing of a hot shot either, perhaps because they found that guquin shredding might really be beyond Jocelyn Zhou’s digital acting repertoire.
Well said BE!
When we get to discussing next set of group watch possibilities I WILL lobby for Secret Love Affair, in which the lead actors, neither of which are piano players, really show one how to act as if one is not only a piano player but a genius piano player. Yoo Ah In in particular was asked about it and he said basically that he was an actor and if he could do fight scenes he could play the piano. And the editing crew took great pride in synching up the music to what appeared to be the playing.
My largest reaction to this episode is that for the first time in show, I have my doubts about MCS. Look, what did he actually suspect when he advanced the intel to Yu vis a vis the fireworks factory? And given he is most certainly interested in taking down the CP (or at the very least wiping out the Marquis–and given the Marquis’ role in taking down the Chinyan, maybe that is currently an even bigger target for him presently). He like Banruo is surely aware that embezzlement is going to be too small potatoes to unseat the Crown Prince. Yes Banruo plants the idea of aggressive action in Yu’s head, and Yu is ruthless enough in his striving to ascend to the throne to not sweat the collateral damage of a couple hundred local small fry, their businesses, or homes. However, either MCS knowing Yu for who and what he is had to know what imparting the info about the fireworks factory to Yu would lead to, just as he would know later in episode that Yu and Banruo were going to show up uninvited at his house warming get together later on, which certainly seems mostly put on to play the two of them. IMO either MCS wanted the explosion and its upshot to occur or he is completely out of character stupid for not anticipating it.
I am with Jing questioning MCS about it, and beyond the suspiciousness of Nihuang upbraiding him on MCS’ behalf, there is also largely the question of who is actually supposed to be in charge here. Prince Jing maybe consistently underrated by the emperor and his brothers, but still he is MCS’ boss and in the general pecking order of the empire ultimately a bit more important than Nihuang, who is in fact just another field general like him, and he is the one who is immediately in charge of the relief effort.
Personally, I would have liked a bit more remorse from MCS on this unfolding of events, and while I do think he did a good job of distracting Jing from his likely role in all of this by laying out a strategy by which Jing’s ultimate case can be moved forward surreptitiously through failing to report the relief aid he had proffered the locals, I also would have liked Wang Kai as Prince Jing to somehow project just a bit more, “okay you two, but I am still keeping my own counsel about all this” in his expression. I mean if I, a spectator privy to things Jing is not, don’t entirely trust MCS in this, why would he. And as K has pointed out Nihuang is simply acting out of character as independent operator MCS’ enforcer. Jing may be virtuous to a fault and stubborn about it, a bit naive as such, but he is not stupid.
Still and all, I suppose if I am to take show as it comes, and not consider the portrayal of events in this episode as being somewhat flawed in overlooking the obvious or rather unsatisfactorily explaining the obvious away (when the only alternative is to surmise MCS was too stupid not to know what was going to occur), there is also the fundamental truth that no matter how virtuous anyone’s political hero appears, collateral death is always the like upshot; politics being what it is, a dirty, fatal business. Of course this is Yu’s take, and just as we can kind of see the Marquis having to be ruthless in his support of the CP faction, looking at it from a realpolitik perspective does cut Yu slack on this account. Nonetheless, don’t we want our heroes to have some moral high ground? While I certainly want all those who sent MCS people to their graves to get their comeuppance, I am with Prince Jing in reminding MCS that decent, hard working folk paid the price for the machinations of these politicians.
I think that’s a fair point, BE, and I guess Mei Changsu did point out early on that he must be the baddie (or, um, words to that effect) so that Prince Jing didn’t have to be. The poison is in his blood and maybe the factory explosion, although not directly instigated by MCS, was a poison he must have thought could happen – and did nothing to stop. I believe he was upset by it, though – and all these terrible choices I suppose will build until it overwhelms him entirely 😭
I guess also, as Prince Jing is (rightly) suspicious, it only goes to prove more that Mei Changsu is right to keep his true identity from him. Because I think Prince Jing would be mortified to know his friend was willing to turn a blind eye to potential crimes like the factory explosion in order to make him Emperor.
As I tend to be chiming in after separate episode rewatches, this might be another case of how rewatching does not exactly give one inside info on what will happen even in the next episode. You are correct that in episode 18 in convo with Nihuang and Meng MCS does point out that an essential rationale for keeping his id secret from Jing is that as MCS he can, a man who clawed his way up out of hell with poison in his blood
I like this point a lot BE, it made me think quite a bit for this one. I guess like Ele said, at the end of the day MCS did state he needed to do the evil things that were necessary so Prince Jing wouldn’t have to – but this has always been one of the statements that he says but I never really took to heart. Probably because we don’t like to think of our hero as a morally questionable person anymore than Prince Jing wants to think so of his old best friend – it’s too hard to get away from the “main character halo” on a show whose success and draw rides almost exclusively on the audience rooting for the one main character.
I suppose when I take a step back, MCS’ MO is consistent throughout the show as “Doing what needs to be done, trying to minimize the damage where possible, but not avoiding the damage where unavoidable. ” At the end of the day, there isn’t really any difference between MCS’ attitude towards the innocent harmed in the fireworks factory explosion and
Marquis Xie’s son-in-law’s situation reminds me of how Koreans would never be caught in such a conundrum because they don’t play with mixing family members by marriage even if they’re not blood related. (Meaning Jing-rui’s pseudo relatives would not be intermingling by marriage because of sharing him as a son.) A concept I couldn’t understand when I first encountered it in Smile Donghae where JCW’s character Donghae falls in love with a girl but his mentally challenged mom (with the mind of a 6 year old) falls for the girl’s uncle. This would seem to solve the problem of the mom having someone to take care of her for the rest of her life But no – a choice must be made of who is going to be allowed to get married, the young couple or the middle-aged couple. This was also a conundrum in Five Enough where two brothers were in love with two girls who are friends and the two girls had once been related by marriage (before the death of the person related by marriage). All parties’ parents objected to the idea of being “double in-laws” even though no one was blood-related.
None of this made sense to me until I became a mother-in-law. 😆 Although already in my family, in my father’s generation are two brothers who married two sisters and my mother’s brother married my father’s cousin. This created no problems as far as I know (but older generations didn’t let young people know what they were talking about back then). But now I can totally see the Korean viewpoint of not having your in-laws inseparable from every other part of your family. If there’s a family scandal, the ENTIRE family knows. 😆 There’s no refuge of spending time with a part of your extended family that isn’t involved or at least doesn’t know about it. 😆 In the case of the “adults” in Five Enough, they endured their obnoxious in-laws and were looking forward to another separate set of in-laws to enjoy spending separate time with but the way things turned out, their attachment with The Obnoxious Ones grew even tighter. 😂
Intermarriage in aristocracy seems to have led to the ultimate failure of feudalism all over the world.
@beez: cannot explain it except for my twisted sense of humor, but reading this I could not help but think of the New Orleans singing star Ernie K. Doe’s 1961 hit single, “Mother In Law,” a lament with humorous intent concerning…nagging.
(“Satan shouldn’t be her name./To me they’re about the same./ Every time I open my mouth,/ she tries to put me out…”)
@Beez: I think the fear of inter-marrying families may spring in part from the issue you mentioned but also from a fear of how events will unfold if one of the unions breaks up. It can potentially then become very uncomfortable for the still united couple and the in laws. I know two instances of two siblings marrying two siblings from another family, one case two sisters marrying two brothers, the other, a brother sister marrying a sister brother. The latter two unions are still intact but in the two sisters case, the older sister got divorced from the older brother and in somewhat unpleasant circumstances. Are they ever pleasant? There were kids involved which made it even more complicated. To her credit, the mother in law always treated her ex-daughter in law with kindness and the relationship is as good as it can be. To make it more complicated, her son remarried and had other kids.
Interestingly while the other double marriages are still intact, the family politics can become quite stressful with these cross relationships and if an outsider like myself can detect the stress, it must be worse for those directly involved.
So, issues everywhere!
The entire show requires big brain time! I feel like if I judiciously take notes, I may become at least a little bit smarter like MCS. The show is definitely very good at ‘showing’ us that MCS is smart, rather than telling us, which I appreciate. Wayy too many writers think cool music and cinematography is going to makeup for lapses in writing.
As I have been watching the show on Viki, its a lot of fun to see the reactions of other viewers to the proceedings. But somehow, almost unanimously, a lot of them seem to dislike Prince Jing for questioning MCS.
I have come to LOVE this characterization, on the other hand! It would have been very boring to see MCS go unchallenged (even though he’s mostly right!), and it tells me a lot about Jing’s character as well.
While he is described as being hot- tempered, obstinate and straight- forward, his questioning of MCS’s motives shows that while he may not be as forward- thinking as the latter, he is very sharp in his observations, and he will not blindly follow schemes. It shows that while he has joined the race to power, he is decidedly against giving up his humanity in the pursuit of the crown. And while Jing will make a just king who is good- natured and honest, he will require his wits to keeps his crown, which he seems to possess in plentiful.
Thanks for the beautiful screenshots with each commentary!
Yes, KFG has a gift for matching screenshots to commentary.
Fangurl – just loving this group watch and reading all of your thoughts as they are perfection. Love your thinking on the party.
E16 ushers in two of my favorite moments in this drama – Zhen Ping in the alley with the baddest hat and the scene in the carriage with MCS and Li Gang by the river.
I feel so much better with both Li Gang and Zhen Ping protecting MCS but this is a sign that things are going to heat up.
On Gushan Mountain. MCS pays his respects To Xia Dong’s husband Nie Feng as follows: Mei Changsu took the silver flask and removed the stopper. Then, holding it in both hands, he cried out in a clear voice, “The general of a hundred battles has fallen in defeat.
At the river, he turns his head towards his kingdom, a thousand miles away, and bids his old friend farewell. The water flows desolate, the wind blows cold, as the white-shrouded figures line the shore. The song of mourning for the warrior hero will never come to an end. If songbirds knew of such grief and sorrow, they would weep rivers of crimson blood. Who is left to drink with me now under the radiant moon? Source
The next scene is one of my favorites. MCS and Li Gang traveling along the river in that carriage! This idyllic setting is so lovely to behold I have often hit rewind just to see it again. Sigh! Is this the calm before the storm?
Ping Daddy To The Rescue. Jingrui is full of suspicions and he follows Zhuo son. Ah! He finds out that not only is Zhuo son pulling an assassin act but he jumps in when Minister Shen Zhui is in real danger of losing his life. No fear – Pingie is here!! Poor, poor Jingrui as he comes face to face with his other father – Zhuo Father – who stabs him. The look on his face says it all. I feel like my own heart is being stabbed when he confronts him – Zhuo father’s response was awful.
On an aside – it is a shame that someone a pleasant looking as Zhuo son plays such a bad person.
Xia Dong and Xia Chun get word that their Shifu Xia Jiang,
For the *Lantern Festival MCS, Yujin and Jingrui go to Miaoyin Court to attend a private performance Fairy Gong Yu who has bent over backwards to make everything perfect for MCS. Ugh – Gong Yu makes no effort to match the music as she plays. Ack! Gong Yu agrees to play Jingrui’s mother’s guqin at his birthday party.
Oh boy – the Zhuo father/son team are at it again trying to kill Minister Shen Zhui and this time not only are they defeated, but Zhuo son is badly wounded. Madame Zhuo is not happy over what she overhears. She is getting more anxious over the manipulation of her husband by the Marquis. Looks like MCS has been successful holding back the Marquis at least for now.
DID YOU KNOW…
Small excerpt from Spring River Flower Moon Night by Zhang Ruoxu (for BE)
In spring the river rises as high as the sea,
And with the river’s rise the moon uprises bright.
She follows the rolling waves for ten thousand li,
And where the river flows, there overflows her light.
The river winds around the fragrant islet where
The blooming flowers in her light all look like snow.
You cannot tell her beams from hoar frost in the air,
Nor from white sand upon Farewell Beach below.
No dust has stained the water blending with the skies;
A lonely wheel like moon shines brilliant far and wide.
Who by the riverside first saw the moon arise?
When did the moon first see a man by riverside?
Ah, generations have come and pasted away;
From year to year the moons look alike, old and new.
@phl1rxd Just dropping a quick note to say that I added a spoiler tag to your comment about Xia Jiang!
Xin Qiji was a Song Dynasty poet, generally considered the second great era of Chinese poetry in which its masters’s stature, like those of the T’ang, stand up to international standards of excellence. I know that for some American poets and scholars the Song period, of which the poet Su Tung-P’o is generally considered its greatest exemplar, even exceeded that of the Late T’ang, but I never really got into any of them myself, so in all honesty I would have to say I really know no more about Song Dynasty poetry than I do the poetry of, say, ancient Persia.
Googling a bio of Xin Qiji, I found he had been like our MCS a part of an army largely wiped out by another, sending him into exile for decades, which may be why his poem was selected for use, if in China his bio is well known as such. While in exile, he developed his talent and skills as a poet who wrote in what has been termed the cis form, that is lyrics set to already established musical cadences and melodies.
Of course poetry from almost everywhere has its origins in song. Lyric poetry, which we generally acknowledge as coming from the Greeks, is called that because poetry there was originally written to be performed with music made by lyres.
Yeah, impressions, and yet you are still doing the highlights. Just be comfortable. Between you and phl1rxd, you guys have it covered. I like the satisfaction you take in villain comeuppance, your rooting for our OTP.
My big impressions:
the steady pounding on Jinrui sure has all the signs of tragedy, which strictly speaking involves inevitability. We get this from the chain of events what has happened, what is happening, and the ominous drumbeats towards his birthday get together always accompanied by commentaries of those, MCS and his followers, filled with grave worry for his well being, particularly the well being of his heart and mind. One would think the events of this episode would be pretty tough enough for our young worthy’s swallowing capabilities when he puts his life on the line to oppose both his step brother and his second father, taking sword point to shoulder joint, followed up by the “don’t ask questions or talk to me about your stupid, spoiled youth ideals; this is about family survival” interview with Papi Ding Feng, laced with the innuendo, that dad number one will hit him with something harder than a surface wound and a lecture…like serious, even mortal harm might be the upshot if he keeps on keeping on like this. Talk about your archetypal generation gap. And this from all the chatter going on seems like we are still in the Jingrui tragic prelims. Ah and Jinrui’s pregnant sister…One almost gets a sympathy headache looking at MCS contemplating it.
Xia Dong’s backstory and the Venn Diagram of NIF original sins. Insofar as I can put it together, Xia Dong holds a grudge against both Jing and to a lesser degree Nihuang for not condemning the Chinyans with regard to her husband’s death, of which she was informed by Mar-Kee Xie bringing him back from battle with the bs he was spreading for his own political gain, a plotting that still seems more than alive when you see him lie to Zhuo about the gunpowder conspiracy. Added to this, we have MCS flashbacking what most certainly seems a moment of comraderie and farewell between Lin Shu and General Nie. Xia Dong, both because of her position and because of his feeling for her husband, is someone he wants inevitably to be on his side, and given the current events, he also wants to steer toward the correct direction with regard to attack on the Palace Guards, certainly part of the Big Plot MCS is working on to take down the entire Eastern Palace, its Machiavelli Marquis (at heart of NIF Original Sin Venn Diagaram and current Numba 1 Villain), and the Zhuo father and son hitman team.
On a minor almost comedic note: that Lt. Quiming is quite the knucklehead. And for all he’s supposedly learned, the guy does seem to mistake Xia Dong for the beast and then blames her for it. I can only take him as minor comic relief, such a bungler.
Finally, one can see show’s whole deal with Nihuang and MCS is gonna continually be played on our heartstrings, a veritable Greecian Urn story in which they can never quite really touch, let alone consumate their obviously deep feelings for one another. Art. Beauty. Longing, nearby, reaching out, never quite there. The two leads just leaning into it. Quite touching.
Ahaha, but don’t you think that this set of notes is a fair bit lighter on the blow-by-blow, and heavier on the impressions? I did make a change, I promise! 😆
I think now that we have the story straight, and it is not so necessary for everyone to get every little thing before starting the conversation, you are hitting the highlights in a manner that is less synopsis and more reaction. These are pretty rich posts, don’t you think K? And by the time we are finished with one set of three, everyone here has asked their questions, gotten answers, and where show is a bit ambiguous the collective provides a detailed enough set of povs. That is, you do not have to do it all for us, and you can relax and just write about it the way you ordinarily like to do. The photo and your comment on Nihuang and Xia Dong, for example, made me happy to read them. Sure I see the change, but I have been really grateful for all your comments, with this show specially. I will not start my commenting till I have digested yours with this, believe me. You are doing grand, and everyone thinks so.
Thanks for the encouragement, BE! ❤️ I am definitely starting to relax more into a less synopsis and more reaction sort of space.. and so the experience of writing these posts is also evolving into something that feels easier as well. 😊
I liked Ep 16 a lot, it dragged my attention back into this show. The pugilist fight scene was hilarious “Who are you? Oops I forgot to think of a name for myself, what a failure!” There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening.
Why is Gong Yu pretending to play the pipa, when the music sounds like a guqin!? (I think – at least she says guqin, could be a guzheng?).
I like Banruo and am not sure why she is committing so many faux pas recently, I feel the writing is a little weak. I think she would be too smart to make these mistakes.
Marquis Xie’s response to his son Jingrui is typical abusive behaviour: instead of owning the criticism he creates a smokescreen by trumping up an attack. When an abusive person accuses you of something, usually it’s actually they themselves who are guilty.
I think it is good to remember vis a vis Banruo that some of her intelligence is a result of MCS’ people shaping her pov.
Hi Joe – She is definitely not playing the guqin. It looks like she is attempting (and very badly I may add) to play the pipa. That being said I am not familiar with the stringed instruments of China. Guqins sound more bass-like to my ear.
The great west African kora master Ballake Sissoko who has played with stringed instrument masters from all over the world can be heard here playing behind pipa master Liu Fang: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9fII129MU4
“Kanding Love Song”
This is beautiful BE.
This modern piece is nice to me too,
That is beautiful Joe.
Pipa (which Ms Gong is holding, vertically as usual) has fixed frets so there’s much less scope for bending and sliding the notes. Guqin is the 6 stringed one, it sounds more bassy to me, and mellow, whereas Guzheng is 21 strings I think, a little brighter sounding perhaps. I wonder if we’ll get any Erhu, I really like that one too.
Edit: Yeah I think I can heard Guzheng music.
@manukajoe: Another thought on Banruo after episode 17. As I recall from information provided earlier in show illuminated a bit by phl1rxd’s commentaries, Banruo is a member of an ethnic group who like the Chinyan was pretty much wiped out by this current regime, and had been the lieutenant of her group’s shiffre (the term shiffre also comes up with regard to Xia Dong’s boss, the absent so far Director of Liang’s Bureau of Investigation; could someone explain as precisely as is possible what that term signifies other than “boss”? Is it a formal rank? ). That is, like MCS, Banruo must have some grudge against the present regime. We also know she has a network of spies working for her in the capital, even if they have been infliltrated by followers of MCS. Though she has attached herself to Prince Yu, the prodding of the Prince to act aggressively with regard to the fireworks factory sort of opened my eyes to the possibility that she is not always looking out for the Prince so much as has an agenda of her own, in which she is quite capable of ruthless behavior, that may have more to do with bringing the whole dynasty down than merely benefiting Yu’s ambitions, especially as we see one upshot of the explosion and ensuing carnage is the possibility of civil unrest without regard to any of the factions. So perhaps her earlier errors from the pov of her being an aide de camp of Yu might also not have anything to do with supporting him.
This is a good point and one I hadn’t considered. I guess shifu 师父 is the word, which means master, and often used with respect to the person one is learning a craft from (e.g. ones pugilistic master). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shifu
Thanks for the link.
Shifu will always remind me of Kung Fu Panda… !!
Yes! And I cringe so hard since they don’t pronounce it correctly! KFP says Shee-fu but it’s supposed to be Sher-fu.
@BE: I think the information on Banruo is a bit spoilerish for first time viewers but I agree it’s good for all to recognize that at a minimum, Banruo’s motivations may not be as obvious as they seem.
I think we discussed this in an earlier set of posts with phl1rxd elaborating in kind–caught my attention when it happened. But it was sort of slipped in the narrative among much more pertinent at the time developments.
As I said in my previous posts, for some reason in episode 18, in particular, Banruo gave me a vibe of a giant spider lurking in the shadows (re: the scene where this person comes and informs Yu of Cai Quan and then she’s watching from behind the door, then she goes inside and massages Yu, which in my imagination was something like the said spider circling its victim). I didn’t know all the background you mention here, but this sence of menace is really what I got from this episode.
Yes! I knew this instrument could not possibly sound like that, even though I know nothing of Chinese music!!
I like Banruo too, but honestly, she gave me the creeps in this episode. I think she’s ruthless and possibly not that loyal to Prince Yu.
Banruo had an amazing screen presence in earlier episodes, but I feel like she has lost it a bit. It’s hard with all those glittery people around.
I always like when she massages Yu’s shoulders. The irony is so understated.