Open Thread: Nirvana In Fire Episodes 19, 20 & 21

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Boy, do things get cracking, this set of episodes – I hope you guys are ready for all the action that goes down! Also, isn’t this just such a gorgeous shot of Mei Changsu? The dark background; the embroidery on his sleeves; the intent, meaningful look in his eyes; it all comes together so beautifully. 🤩

Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:

1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question. We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 19

I know I keep saying this, but this episode, it feels even more, that things are shifting into place for Something Big that is to come.

Although I thought the way Commander Meng gets himself into Prince Jing’s study was pretty clumsy and obvious, I do like the thinking behind it. It’s very fitting, that Commander Meng steps forward and pledge himself to support Prince Jing in his fight for the throne.

After all, this really is where his heart is, knowing what he knows about what Lin Shu and his family went through. And once Commander Meng’s overtly pledged his allegiance to Prince Jing, he wouldn’t need to be excluded from Prince Jing’s conversations with Mei Changsu, nor would he need to pretend not to know what’s going on. And we know that Commander Meng isn’t always so great with the pretending, right?

What an important conversation, where Prince Jing finally gets to hear some details about what had happened to Prince Qi, Noble Consort Chen, the Lin family, and the Chiyan Army. I hadn’t realized that Prince Jing hadn’t known anything except the vaguest of details around what had happened, because he’d been stationed elsewhere, and by the time he’d come back to Jinling, the subject had become taboo.

I can’t imagine what that must have been like for Prince Jing, actually. To think that he’d come back from Donghai after his assignment, to find that his best friend, his best friend’s family, his dearest brother, and that brother’s mother, had all died. 😭

I like that Commander Meng lays it all out for Prince Jing, because not only is this much needed clarity for Prince Jing, it’s helpful for us too, as an audience, to get an overview of what went down. To think that Xie Yu had brought an accusation against Prince Qi and Lin Xie to the Emperor, claiming that they were colluding with Da Yu in order to stage a rebellion.

I was talking about this with my mom (whom, as you probably know by now, loves this show and has seen it 6 times), and Mom explained that because Noble Consort Chen had originally been from the Lin family, it’s highly believable – especially to our very suspicious Emperor – that the Lin family would stage a rebellion in an effort to put Prince Qi on the throne. Prince Qi did have Lin blood running in his veins, after all.

..Does this mean that Xie Yu had masterminded this, in order to get rid of Prince Qi (who had been Crown Prince at the time), so that the current Crown Prince would be able to take his place? That’s quite mind-boggling. 🤯

This is quite possibly the most emotion we’ve seen Prince Jing show so far, and it’s poignant to see how much this affects him; how important these people were – are – to him. I’m pleased to hear Prince Jing declare that he will investigate the case thoroughly, in order to clear Prince Qi’s and the Lin family’s names, because that’s essentially what Mei Changsu is doing, so in a way, they are aligned. Well, except for the fact that Mei Changsu is intent on carrying out rogue justice on Xie Yu, but I don’t blame him, honestly, knowing what we know.

Concubine Jing is a wise lady indeed. Based on what we’ve seen of her shrewdness and tact, I do think that the way she answers the Emperor’s question about what she thinks of Prince Yu, is designed to look completely innocent, but is meant to point the Emperor to the fact that Prince Yu’s influence in the court is greater than the Crown Prince’s. I think that’s why the Emperor immediately moves to not only promote Concubine Jing to the rank of Consort, but also, to move the Crown Prince back to the Eastern Palace, so that the perceived imbalance between him and Prince Yu is less pronounced.

As Mei Changsu puts it to Li Gang, the Emperor is less concerned about the people’s lives who were lost in the explosion of the illegal fireworks factory, and more interested in controlling the dynamics of the court.

Speaking of whom, I’d actually been slightly puzzled about why the Emperor had felt it necessary to send Nihuang back to Yunnan, with the arrival of the envoy from Southern Chu. As my mom explained it to me (thanks, Mom!), Princess Nihuang has always guarded the southern border for the kingdom of Liang, and there have always been tensions between the kingdoms of Liang and Southern Chu.

With the Southern Chu entourage arriving in Liang, our suspicious Emperor is likely concerned that the Southern Chu might have some nefarious scheme up their sleeves – and that is why he wants Nihuang to be there in Yunnan, to protect the southern border from any potential attacks that the Southern Chu might wage.

And of course, the reason that the Emperor insists that Mu Qing stay behind in Jinling, is so that he can basically use Mu Qing’s safety as leverage, to ensure that Nihuang will stay focused and faithful in protecting Liang’s interests.

It’s no wonder Mu Qing is upset, and I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for Nihuang, to be separated from her Lin Shu gege, so soon after she’d found him again.

It’s so poignant to see Nihuang break decorum, and tell her Lin Shu gege that she just wants to run away with him and live happily together, where she can forget about being a princess, and he can forget about being Mei Changsu.

It’s even more poignant, to see Mei Changsu put aside his usual propriety, and embrace Nihuang. That’s huge, because from what we’ve seen, he’s always so careful to keep a proper distance from her, not only because of his assumed identity, but also, I think, to protect Nihuang’s heart. And yet, here, in this moment, he puts all of that aside, and just holds her, as she cries.

He looks so haunted, as he tells her, that he, too, is looking forward to the day that he can be Lin Shu again. Augh. That’s heartbreaking. 💔

I hate that Nihuang has to leave, and that her Lin Shu gege isn’t able to send her off like everyone else is. That’s got to be so hard for Nihuang. 😭

How curious, though, that Prince Ling from Southern Chu comes along to pick a fight as Nihuang leaves, and specifically asks for Jingrui to fight against his cousin, Niannian.

I wonder why Niannian is so intent on sparring with Jingrui, particularly if her master is already due to fight with Father Zhuo?

Lately, it seems that anything that’s worth anything, has something to do with Jingrui. I wonder if Niannian’s fixation on Jingrui, is in any way connected to the Birthday Surprise that Mei Changsu is planning?

After all, even Gong Yu’s presence at the birthday banquet seems to be specially calculated as well. That whole fake assassination attempt on Xie Yu, followed by Gong Yu showing up injured in front of Banruo, turns out to be all part of Mei Changsu’s blueprint. It’s quite thrilling, actually, to realize that Mei Changsu had planned all this, knowing that it would nudge Prince Yu to come knocking, to ask for guidance.

That’s exactly what Prince Yu does, even as Gong Yu starts to make her way to the banquet, escorted by Yujin.

My memory of this show is hazy enough, that I don’t actually know what to expect at the birthday banquet. Whatever it is, though, I’m sure it’s going to be mind-blowing, if Mei Changsu has planned it so meticulously for so long. I mean, the fact that Mei Changsu’s birthday gift to Jingrui is a bottle of heart medicine, already tells us something? 😅

Episode 20

The birthday party of the century gets under way, and even though the party’s not yet over by the time we finish this episode, I’m gonna say it’s already living up to the expectations that Show’s set for it.

There are layers of intrigue, in that, first we have Xia Dong wanting to test Zhuo Dingfeng’s sword technique, because of her suspicions around his involvement in the case of the killing of the eunuch and imperial guards, and then there’s the Big Reveal of Jingrui’s birth secret.

The first act, of Xia Dong wanting to test Zhuo Dingfeng’s sword technique, essentially has two scenes; we have Round 1, with Xia Dong herself sparring with Zhuo Dingfeng, and then Round 2, when Yue Xiuze shows up to challenge Zhuo Dingfeng according to their much earlier promise.

Of course, Xie Yu doesn’t want Zhuo Dingfeng to spar with Yue Xiuze, because, as Xia Dong and Commander Meng note, Zhuo Dingfeng wouldn’t be able to refrain from using his signature sword technique, when pitting his skills against such a strong opponent.

..But Zhuo Dingfeng decides to accept the challenge anyway, because that’s the honorable thing to do, by Jianghu standards.

Given the tight spot that he finds himself in, I actually think he chose a reasonably clever way out: to accept the challenge so that he adheres to Jianghu standards, but to hold back and not reveal his sword technique, so that he doesn’t give Xia Dong and Commander Meng any clues for their investigation. This gets him wounded, which is a downside, but it puts an end to the showdown, and I think that that was his plan all along.

I don’t believe that this fighting stuff is Mei Changsu’s planning, however. It does seem like this fighting stuff just happened to go down, on the same evening that Jingrui’s birth secret was planned to be revealed. (We do get confirmation in episode 21, that Yue Xiuze had intentionally challenged Zhuo Dingfeng before the reveal of Jingrui’s birth secret, because he hadn’t wanted to fight a distracted Zhuo Dingfeng, and he knew that Zhuo Dingfeng would be hugely distracted, once the birth secret was revealed.)

The main event, it seems, is the Big Reveal, that Jingrui’s father really is the hostage prince from Southern Chu, who is now King of Southern Chu.

I do think that Princess Niannian’s request of Grand Princess Liyang, to return her brother to her, is weird and unreasonable. I mean, Grand Princess Liyang didn’t kidnap Jingrui or anything; she’s his mother. Of course it’s natural and reasonable for Grand Princess Liyang to have kept Jingrui by her side. What else does Niannian expect? For this reason, I find Niannian’s request very oddly worded. Jingrui was never stolen from her. 🙄 It would have made more sense if Niannian had simply requested for Jingrui to be given the chance to get to know his father and other members of his family.

Also for this same reason, I find Niannian rather unlikable, and therefore, when she’s trying to talk while Grand Princess Liyang is comforting a very shocked Jingrui, I’m SO pleased when Yujin basically tells her to shut up. THANK YOU, Yujin!

Poor Jingrui. Before this birthday banquet, he’d already been feeling a disquiet over the fact that the people in his life weren’t quite turning out to be what he’d always believed them to be. This new information, however, basically turns his entire world upside down and inside out. Now he knows that neither of his fathers is actually his father, and henceforth, his life will never be the same as it once was.

From the way Jingrui drops to his knees in what feels like a stunned stupor, I feel like I can practically see his brain imploding on itself, and he comes to the realization that his whole life is essentially one big lie. Gah. That’s got to be really rough. 😭 And, given what a pure-hearted, decent, loyal sort of person Jingrui’s shown himself to be, it’s extra heartbreaking to see him have to endure this complete and utter upheaval. 💔

After the hints that Show’s dropped about Grand Princess Liyang having been in love with the hostage prince from Southern Chu, however, I must say that it wasn’t really a surprise to me, to learn the confirmed details of Jingrui’s birth secret. I was admittedly quite surprised, though, by how Princess Niannian went about it, what with asking that Grand Princess Liyang return her brother to her and all.

Also, the other thing that I was surprised by, is the reveal of how Gong Yu’s backstory and personal grudge fits into everything. From the way Mei Changsu had so deliberately made a way for Gong Yu to be present at the birthday banquet, I’d had an inkling that Gong Yu would have an important part to play. I just had no idea what Gong Yu’s grudge could be.

It really was quite shocking, to find out that Gong Yu’s father had been tasked to kill Jingrui when he’d been a baby, but had killed the wrong baby – the Zhuo family’s baby – instead, which had then led to Xie Yu wanting to have the entire family killed, because the job hadn’t been done properly. Yikes. So that’s what had really gone down, on the stormy night where one baby had died, supposedly from being dropped. That hadn’t been an accident; that had been murder. 😳

To think that all these years, Xie Yu had known that he’d been behind the death of Zhuo Dingfeng’s son, but had continued to use him for his own political ambition, allowing Zhuo Dingfeng to believe that he was half a father to Jingrui. Basically, “I killed your son, but you don’t know it, so let me use you anyway.” That’s really, really evil, wouldn’t you say? Dang.

Also, now that Xie Yu calls in all his soldiers, in a bid to take control of the situation, I understand why Mei Changsu had felt it necessary to involve Prince Yu, and have him waiting outside with troops at the ready. It was because he’d expected that things would come to this, and that Xie Yu would fall back on brute force, when backed into a corner. The best part is, as always, Prince Yu still thinks that it’s Mei Changsu who’s helping him, and not the other way around.

On top of all this, it feels like a nice bonus (as well as a small spot of levity), that Fei Liu had fun cutting all the strings of the bows in the weaponry room. I kinda love that Mei Changsu thought to give Fei Liu something fun to do, that would help with the overall grand plan.

Episode 21

Woah. What an action-packed episode this turned out to be. And here I’d thought that we’d gotten the meat of the reveals, in episode 20! 😅

As it turns out, there is much more to Gong Yu’s story, and it’s Mei Changsu who invites her to finish telling her story, so that the Zhuo family has full information.

I’d already found Xie Yu’s use of the Zhuo family disturbing enough with the reveals in episode 20, but this episode, we’re told that he’d actively tried to have both babies killed, to make doubly sure that his goal of killing the prince’s baby was achieved. This means that he had specific intent to kill the Zhuo’s baby, after all. And here he is, having used the Zhuo family to his advantage all these years. Wow.

Apparently, it was the political advantage that he realized he could enjoy, by partnering with the Zhuo family, that had dulled his desire to kill Jingrui. And, in the meantime, Grand Princess Liyang had hovered so close to Jingrui, that Xie Yu had had no chance to kill him. What a nightmare for the Grand Princess, honestly.

What I’m curious to know, though, is how Grand Princess Liyang had known that Jingrui was her son? If there had been no identifying marks on the newborns, and if even Mrs. Zhuo hadn’t been able to tell if the baby was her own, how had the Grand Princess known, and with so much conviction, at that?

I’m also curious to know why Xie Yu hadn’t hired another assassin to finish the botched job, even as his men hunted down Gong Yu’s father. It’s not like he was the only assassin available on the market?

That said, I’m struck by how shrewd, and also, how cold Xie Yu is.

I say shrewd, because he was quick to think of summoning the Guard barrack to protect his manor. Even though he is not permitted to use them for his personal purposes, having them stand outside his manor, preventing other people from entering, is just within the confines of their jurisdiction, so he isn’t misusing them, technically. And as along as they are standing guard outside his manor, Prince Yu and his men, Xia Chun and his men, and Marquis Yan, are all unable to enter. That’s really sharp-witted of Xie Yu, wouldn’t you say?

And I say cold, because Xie Yu doesn’t hesitate to order everyone killed, including the Zhuo family, who have been his allies for years, and including Yujin, who is his nephew, and Jingrui himself as well.

Plus, he doesn’t even flinch, when his own son Xie Bi puts a sword to his own throat, to implore his father to stop what he’s doing. I know he’s counting on Xie Bi not to go through with slitting his own throat, because he knows Xie Bi’s temperament and understands him to be a coward, but the thing is, he’s willing to take that chance. He doesn’t even look a little bit conflicted at the thought of Xie Bi potentially killing himself. And Xie Bi is his own flesh and blood, too. That’s really cold, isn’t it?

The only thing that stops Xie Yu, in the end, is Grand Princess Liyang putting a knife to her own throat. I have to wonder whether this is because Xie Yu has any actual affection for his wife, or if he’s only considering the fact that she is the Emperor’s sister. After seeing how Xie Yu is, with everyone else, I’m leaning towards the fact that it’s because she’s the Emperor’s sister, and he can’t afford to have her die on him.

In the meantime, though, I am curious to know how Mei Changsu had known about the secret passageway in Xie Yu’s manor. I know he’d stayed there for a period of time, but that doesn’t tell us how he’d known about the passageway?

I also wanted to say, it’s pretty cool to see Commander Meng fight alongside Yue Xiuze, and the two of them continuously knocking down waves of men like dominos, because they are at the top of the bridge, and have gravity working in their favor. What a smart way to maximize their limited resources, eh?

With these two martial arts experts holding the fort, I can buy that the others would have time for important conversations, while taking refuge.

I’m impressed that Gong Yu would invite the Zhuo family to take revenge on her, for her father’s act of killing their child, just like she’s seeking revenge from Xie Yu, for killing her father. It’s human nature to only think of one’s own injustice and pain, and thus not see the injustice and pain of others, so the very fact that she’d think of the Zhuo family’s potential desire for revenge, really increases my respect for her by quite a few notches.

I’m also impressed with Mrs. Zhuo, for having the presence of mind to see through her pain, that the death of her baby had nothing to do with Gong Yu. In a world where vengeance is often sought from the descendants of the perpetrator, I feel this is extremely gracious.

Mei Changsu’s conversation with Zhuo Dingfeng seems especially important; this is when Zhuo Dingfeng realizes properly, that he really is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn’t come against Xie Yu and expose all his crimes, Xie Yu will kill him, but if he comes against Xie Yu, he himself will inevitably be implicated as an accessory.

I appreciate that Zhuo Dingfeng is willing to shoulder all the blame on his own, in order to protect his family, but we don’t see whether Mei Changsu is able to accede to his request, because that’s when arrows start raining down on everyone. This is when it occurs to me, that Mei Changsu really is risking his life, in order to take down Xie Yu. Even though Fei Liu is there, there was never any guarantee that Mei Changsu would get out of this alive.

Grand Princess Liyang really is our MVP, because not only does she force Xie Yu’s hand, to allow Prince Yu et al. to enter the manor, she also forces Prince Yu to promise not to implicate other people in the night’s events, and also, to treat the Zhuos well, not just for the time being, but for the long haul. Plus, she sends Princess Niannian packing as well, which I’m personally very pleased about. She’s so soft-spoken, but she can be such a badass, when it comes to protecting the people she cares about. 🤩

Looks like Xie Yu’s downfall is coming up next, and I’m suitably curious to see how that all shakes out, after everything that’s happened during this set of episodes.

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phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago

Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)

Episode 19

  • Prince Ling Yuwen Xuan – Prince of Southern Chu
  • Princess Yue Wen Nian – Princess of Xiandai in Southern Chu and cousin of Prince Ling Yuwen Xuan
  • Yue Xiuze – One of the heads of the Chu Emperor’s palace and ranked 5th on the Langya Hall list for martial arts. He is trained in the Eyun Method of fighting.
  •  Prince of Chu/Formerly Prince Sheng/now King Yu Wen Lin – former ambassador who was held hostage in Liang by the former Emperor, former lover of Grand Princess Linyang and Jingrui’s real father

Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
Episode 19

  • Da Yu – borders Da Liang to the north. The battle at Meiling occurred during a war between Da Yu and Da Liang

No new characters or places in E20 and 21

beez
1 hour ago

@Elaine Phua – I think MCS did not think ot would come to that point of endangerment for everyone. He took the precautions of having Fei Lu cut the archers’ bows and he thought that Prince Yu being outside with his forces would keep Marquis Rapist in check. The one thing he didn’t count on was Prince Yu fumbling the ball.

beez
5 days ago

@Geo – 😅Sorry, not sorry. 😂

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
7 days ago

Now that the baby switcheroo has been explained and it seems that Marquis Ning is on his way down, I am curious about what the next mystery and the next adversary will be. My bet is on the mysterious mountain beast.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
7 days ago

This really was the birthday party of the century!

beez
10 days ago

– Thanks. I must admit to looking for holes (just a little bit). I’m glad I’m failing. 😆

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
10 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – No problem. Inquiring minds need to know. I asked the same question and that is why I had the answer ready to go as I had already looked it up in the novel. 😉

beez
10 days ago

– How did Marquis Yan know to show up? Does the novel say that MCS informed him that his presence would be needed? I can’t believe he would have thought on his own that there is a problem with Yujin being out late when everyone knows that Jingrui’s homes are like Yujin’s second (and third) homes.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
10 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – another great question! Here is the answer from the novel – Marquis Yan only lived one street away from the Marquis Xie’s house so he saw the firework and knew exactly what it meant. 

trackback

[…] this in the last Open Thread; you can check out my mom’s take, and CP’s interesting findings here), she had definitely known, as Jingrui had then grown into his father’s likeness, and she’d […]

Geo
Geo
14 days ago

A couple of comments;

The Marquis has one redeeming feature – his love for Liyang despite the circumstances of their marriage. I think he would have been able to disarm Liyang as she was standing pretty close to him but was afraid to take the chance in case he failed. Also Liyang’s action cuts to the core because even if he wriggles out of this situation, he knows he’s lost, he loses no matter what the outcome.

MCS can be faulted for almost getting his whole group killed but I would place most of the blame on Prince Yu. He knows what MCS is planning, he knows that force will be needed, yet allows the one guard sent by the Marquis to the Barracks to get through. In such a situation as the one MCS has created where there is real risk to MCS and his group, Prince Yu should have sealed the property, not allowing anyone in or out. Why does it not occur to him that the guard may be going to seek external help? Why does he think that a guard would suddenly leave the property when the situation is so tense?

melka
melka
13 days ago
Reply to  Geo

Glad someone pointed out that Prince Yu was so surprisingly ineffectual. Even if he didn’t have military experience, surely he’s dealt with enough machinations to know to capture and interrogate the messenger as to what’s going on in the mansion?

beez
14 days ago

– glad to hear from mom. (Let her know that I had similar thoughts about the baby mix up) 😊

beez
14 days ago

@BE – We have a couple of cousins who are just plain really, really dumb, and no, we never do because it is really mean (and frustrating that they just don’t get it) to do so. BUT BE, I thought it was pretty obvious that I was exaggerating because of my infatuation with Commander Hawtie. 😂

BE
BE
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

I have a pal who was once the chief bankruptcy judge in the state of California, and brilliant, but of such a serious demeanor, even though he himself can be quite humorous at times, that you can josh him and he does not change his expression as if what you just said flew right by him. And another a genius poet, who likewise, because he is so over the top beyond all of us, he is easy to poke fun at. But the thing is we know MCS loves Men, just as I love my pals, so all is gonna be forgiven–MCS is even worse with Few Liu.

Trent
14 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Cogent insight from KFG mom. That all makes good sense. I can see where you got your analytical prowess…

Geo
Geo
14 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@KFG: I agree with your Mom that the most likely scenario would be the Momo deliberately switching the babies because she is pretty shrewd and for sure would have known Liyang’s son wasn’t the Marquis’. The only reason for the Momo to switch the babies was to protect Liyang’s son. I think Liyang realized this after the fact, that her son was the intended target of the assassin which is why she was so protective about Jingrui growing up.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yeah Fangurl and Mom! I think it is very cool that we get Mom’s point of view. I hope she jumps again to talk with us! Hi mom! ♡♡ Join the party!

CP
CP
13 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

FWIW, I did a quick search on the Chinese side of the internet (hello Baidu), to see if there were any new insights. Most of the theories are the same as discussed above & in the comments here, but there’s one new one that I saw a couple times and found very interesting, so thought I would share:
In the story (can’t remember if it’s in the drama but it is in the novel), they talk about something called “滴血验亲” (di xie yan qin) (literally translated: “drip blood test relation” – from what I can tell, it’s like some ancient pseudo-DNA test involving testing blood, and was something that people really believed in back then; I don’t think it was particularly scientific by today’s standards). After the mix-up, this was done on Jingrui, and the results were inconclusive to either side (Xie Yu or Zhuo family). At this point Liyang (and Xie Yu, who knew she was pregnant pre-marriage to him) would have instantly known that this was Liyang’s child with the Southern Chu prince, hence she knew to protect him like crazy when he was a baby.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
11 days ago
Reply to  CP

Hi CP – I remember seeing this very thing in a few CDramas. I think they used this in The Imperial Coroner. If I remember correctly if the blood types are compatible the two drops will mix easily. If the blood types were incompatible, then the blood would not mix.

beez
9 days ago
Reply to  CP

@CP – I don’t get it. I understand about this ancient blood “test” as I’ve seen it done in other shows but how would Grand Princess have known since the test was inconclusive?

beez
14 days ago

– You and I, and the other commenters here may feel that way, but I’m sure Black Hearted Xie is not at all happy to “face the music” and would love to continue adding more notches on wherever he keeps record of his evil deeds.

I think you’re giving him way you much credit.

beez
14 days ago

– “FWIW”?

And I’m glad someone else appreciates the Commander. Hmmmm. That even sounds hawt – “Did you have a tough day at work today, Commander?” “Let me rub your shoulders, Commander“. I can totally see it.

beez
14 days ago

– What??? Who???! If I have the characters straight – Marquis Ning is Evil Rapist Xie, right? If so, I’m sure he doesn’t look at MCS’ actions as doing him any favors.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – You are correct. The Marquis surely does not look favorably on MCS. MCS has made him come face to face with all his evil deeds. In doing so, it is forcing the Marquis to pay for his actions. Better to face the music and pay up now rather than add more evil to his list. MCS has provided him a way to pay for his sins by exposing them and avoiding further stain on his soul, which is already black enough.

beez
14 days ago

– and let’s not forget his “favour”. (Although I got that phrase from Korean saeguk, but you know what I mean 😉 😉)

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – 🤣😂😅 The more I try to understand and have empathy for the Emperor, the more I see his transgressions. Yes, he is only human and the times were different, but I see a heart blackened by all of his actions.

Same with the Marquis of Ning. All I can say is thank goodness it is not my karma to bear as the weight of their deeds must be heavy indeed.

If you really think about it Beez, MCS did the Marquis a favor by bringing down his house of cards as he now has to deal with the consequence of his actions.

beez
15 days ago

Whew. And thanks. I don’t mean to exhaust you (don’t lie for my sake). Just reading and re-reading and mulling that over was tiring for me so I can imagine… Thanks again, phl1rxd.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
15 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – LOL! I enjoy the challenge and it gives me a validation for my NIF nerdiness. I appreciate that you really thought that issue through. I wish that I had more (any) expertise in genealogy and I knew the proper ways to term familial relationships. It truly helps to see it visually laid out – to try to describe in words is too confusing.

If the Emperor did not have so many children with so many different women it would be a lot easier. The family tree is a right hot mess to study. Let’s blame our difficulty on ‘Big Daddy’ Emperor LOL!

beez
15 days ago

Heck! I have trouble remembering English names so the unfamiliar names completely elude me. And when other Kdtama fans refer back to characters (without even mentioning the name of the show they belong to), then I’m totally in the dark even if the characters are from a favorite show of mine. smh

beez
15 days ago

– no surprise that I got the who’s who wrong. Sorry phl1rxd. I’m talking about this quote from Kfangurl’s recap:
And I say cold, because Xie Yu doesn’t hesitate to order everyone killed, including the Zhuo family, who have been his allies for years, and including Yujin, who is his nephew, and Jingrui himself as well.”

My question should be how is The Rapist Xie(?) Yujin’s uncle? Who is The Rapists’ brother or sister that is Yujin’s parent? I don’t think The Rapist is related to Marquis Yan (Yujin’s dad), right? So it must be that Yujin’s deceased mom is The Rapist’s sister?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
15 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez –

You really do ask the very best questions Miz B! The connections in this family are pretty vast and once you really study it you run across some real mind blowing items. So in reverse order….

  1. Yujin’s deceased mom is unrelated and unknown and remains unknown.
  2. The connection between Marquis of Ning (rapist) and Marquis Yan (Yujin’s dad) is through marriage – see below

Sorry this response took so long but I had to really think about the terms I used and draw my own family map. It is really, really complicated Beez and some of the familial connections have not been discussed yet so I can only go so far without throwing out a spoiler.

The Emperor sister is Grand Princess Liyang. (same father but different mother – her mother is the Empress Dowager who fed her the drug)

  1. Marquis of Ning is married to GP Liyang so the Emperor is Marquis Ning’s brother-in-law and the Empress his sister-in-law by marriage
  2. The Marquis of Yan is the blood brother of the Empress so the Emperor is his brother-in-law
  3. Yujin – the Emperor is his uncle by marriage and the Empress is his blood aunt, therefore GP Liyang is his aunt and Marquis of Ning his uncle by marriage (I think once removed? Maybe twice removed?)
  4. Jingrui – the Emperor is his uncle by blood and the Empress is his aunt by marriage
  5. Jingrui and Yujin are *** cousins – **see below

**I cannot clarify about distant or once removed versus twice removed versus thrice removed cousins/nephews as I am not sure where each term is applicable here. I hope I used the appropriate terms. You need to be a genealogist to get through this bunch and I am surely not one!

I highly suggest that you feel free to go to BE’s link to the family tree as you have already seen the drama. It is complicated Beez and only a visual can help and this family tree visual aid is the very best there is. BE has a sharp eye and certainly found the best of the lot. It is a huge help (and major eye opener) for re-watchers or first time watchers past E45. Even if I altered that family tree visual aid to avoid spoilers the act of alteration in itself would be a spoiler. But you are good to use it as you are a re-watcher.

Ugh – I hoped I did not confuse you!

Last edited 15 days ago by phl1rxd
beez
16 days ago

@BE- you know, I would think that too (but my kid had a distinct look and nobody ever thought he was a girl because of it despite long hair as a toddler) but everyone can’t make that claim or we wouldn’t see babies switched at birth. And in this NIF story the babies were only a few hours old so… I guess it’s possible…

beez
16 days ago

Apparently, it was the political advantage that he realized he could enjoy, by partnering with the Zhuo family, that had dulled his desire to kill Jingrui.” quoting kfangurl’s recap

Ahhhhhh. I had wondered what cooled his jets.

beez
16 days ago

@Anyone who can answer – how is Yujin Zhou’s nephew?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
15 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – can you describe him as the name is not ringing a bell.

beez
16 days ago

@Everyone – Commander Meng-Hottie’s discovery of the secret compartment doesn’t ring true to me at all! Besides My Sweetheart’s poor acting when it comes to subterfuge, just having a secret room doesn’t mean he’s joined the fight for the throne, does it? If having secret rooms is a sign of treachery, then Prince Yu would’ve immediately begun to distrust MCS.

BE
BE
15 days ago
Reply to  beez

@beez: if Commander Meng-Brawny is a bad actor (the actual actor pretty great at being a bad actor, a feat probably greater than using shields as frisbee bowling balls), that handsome mule Prince Yu whose smile is like a crack in the storm cloud sky through which the sun glints on rare occasions during Seattle wintertime, suffers from what is known in contemporary pop psychology as tunnel vision (the two of them thus a match made in heaven as the left hand and the right for MCS). So as regards to the secret rooms, certainly when Meng Manly tells Yu Better Darn Well Not Lie to Me that the secret room is identical to one over at the MCS mansion, Meng’s tunnel vision naturally finds a correspondence with Yu’s, the two of them,as I say, a match made in MCS heaven. And very likely given it is so with everything else in show, part of his plan. Thus even Meng puts his plausible and persuasive foot in the door, being truly himself, ie awkward as teenage boy with his first crush, by making the connect to MCS, then giving Yu his fealty, and then, and now we are in your heartthrob’s path to glory as number one body guard and sideman, seals the deal with the tale of Chingyan, the Lin fam, esp. Prince Qi, and for everyone else reinforces the nefarious role in all this played by the ee-villle Marquis XY.

beez
15 days ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – i like it – Gen. McBrawny. Manly Meng. 😉

beez
14 days ago
Reply to  BE

@BE @Everyone – I must admit, I really didn’t like the fact that MCS invited Gen. Hawtie-Pants to tour the secret passage just so they could make my sweetie-pie look dumb. MCS didn’t have to invite him – he could’ve just stated “You know Gen. Hawt Pants, I’d love to show you the tunnel but…” But noooooo! And then Little Miss Impossibly-Gorgeous-Overly-Competent piped in to add to the Know-It-All-Geek-Squad-fest. But you know what? He can whup all y’all’s azzes! How ’bout dat????

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – he was so impressive in that fight at the Marquis’ manor when everything hit the fan – like breathtakingly impressive. No wonder he is ranked #2 on the Langya List. According to the novel Meng Zhi was trained in Shaolin method of martial arts and was said to be exceptionally strong. He rose through the ranks on merit alone.

He is such an important character in this drama. FWIW – There are moments in the novel when he and MCS are just sitting there talking and he is so dear and sweet and caring. He would fuss over MCS and make sure he had his fur throw and tuck him in. It brought tears to my eyes.

You have good taste Beez – Meng Zhi is one total bad ass and in more ways than one. What a stunning man! 😍

BE
BE
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

@beez: Don’t you have a friend or friends who you really love, but are so easy to tease it is hard to forego an opportunity?

Geo
Geo
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez: I think MCS had to ask Meng rather than just tell him he shouldn’t show any awareness of the secret tunnel. Telling him would be second best to actually showing him how his train of thought could be dangerous to MCS.

I like your description of Nihuang but give her a break, lol. She’s just found her love after 12 years of thinking him dead so she’s overly protective.

Meng is a man of action and can surely whip them all but remember what I said a while back, men of action need men of thought (MCS in this case) to guide them.

beez
10 days ago
Reply to  Geo

@Geo – I totally love and admire Princess Perfect. That was all tongue-in-cheek. But I’m dead serious about Defending Gen. Meng’s smarts. He’s just the right amount of brain power for me. Not dumb at all but just not so smart that I can’t be one step ahead of him. 😉

Geo
Geo
10 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez: I was being tongue in cheek too…but not as successful. She is a little Miss Perfect or GTS as we might call her (goody two shoes).

I wouldn’t like to be described as you do Gen. Meng though, lol.

Geo
Geo
14 days ago
Reply to  BE

I think you mean Prince Jing not Yu? I agree Meng uncovers the secret tunnel because he sees the identical secret rooms in MCS’ and Prince Jing’s houses.

I found this sequence rather awkward but don’t know if this is meant to reflect Meng’s character or if it’s just awkwardly done?

Ele Nash
14 days ago
Reply to  BE

@BE Poetry 😅 “handsome mule Prince Yu whose smile is like a crack in the storm cloud sky through which the sun glints on rare occasions during Seattle wintertime”

beez
16 days ago

About “and if anyone were to bring it up he would have just suppressed it and buried it” quoting phl1rxd. And I bet we could substitute “it” with “them”.

beez
16 days ago

– early on you told us to remember the guy who was stabbed through the side of his neck in ep1 or ep2. Can you tell us now who he was and/or what that was about? If it’s still too early, just tell me to wait some more.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
16 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I only mentioned that guy in E1 because of the type of stab wound he received as we now know that the murder was done by the Marquis of Ning/Tianguan Manor sect. I wanted to let everyone know that the type of wound was important. As for who he was and why the Marquis of Ning targeted him (via the Zhuos) I have no further info.

The novel is no help as it starts when MCS arrives in Jingling. So there is nothing for me to reference this to. But with NIF never say never as I till have this in my memory and I am still looking for a thread back to him. It may have been a type of harassment killing against Prince Yu, maybe a warning. Anyway you look at it, it was ugly.

beez
16 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– it was shocking! I probably needed that excitement in those first couple of episodes to keep me interested. 😆 Thanks phl1rxd!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago

Your post is perfection Fangurl! I hope I have no spoilers but if so feel free to mark.

E19 – Cheeky Meng Zhi handles discovering the tunnel perfectly by pledging himself to Prince Jing. He mentions his friends – is he talking about the friends from the Chiyan Army? He is, and finally we get some background on this issue which has been shrouded in secrecy so far.

Meng Zhi explains to Prince Jing that the Xie Yu (Marquis of Ning) was supposed to back up the Chiyan Army with troops but he found out the Prince Qi and Commander General Lin Xie wanted to rebel with Da Yu (remember that band of riders in the first episode that Yujin and Jingrui saw in the streets?).

That is huge so why would the Emperor order all those executions? Well Xuanjing Bureau verified the treason… Think about that for a second. That is a big deal right there. Prince Jing is gutted.

I see the resolve behind MCS’s meticulous planning. From their conversation here is who so far have died and their relation to MCS/Lin Shu:

  • General Lin Xie who was killed at the Battle of Meiling and Lin Shu’s father
  • Grand Princess Jinyang wife of General Lin Xie, stepsister to Grand Princess Liyang (mother of Jingrui), Lin Shu’s mother, the Emperor’s blood sister, committed suicide by slashing her throat. In the drama she is wearing the purple dress.
  • The entire household of the Lin Family were executed and all their properties were seized
  • Consort Chen/Lin Yueyao who is General Lin Xie blood sister, consort to the Emperor, Lin Shu’s aunt and besties with Consort Jing, committed suicide by hanging herself in the Palace
  •  Prince Qi – Son of the Emperor and Consort Chen/Lin Yueyao, first cousin of Lin Shu, was forced to drink poison in prison
  • The entire household of Prince Qi were executed and all his property was seized
  • The entire Chiyan Army 

What I want to know is what exactly did the Xuanjing Bureau have on the treason charge – what level of malfeasance could cause a father to kill his son and his most loyal general as well as his own sister plus his Consort and 70,000 of his troops?

Fangurl’s mom (Hi Mom!) may have a point that because Consort Chen was blood sister to General Lin Xie, the Emperor may have harbored suspicions on this connections and General Lin’s military power.

Fangurl I love this statement you made Well, except for the fact that Mei Changsu is intent on carrying out rogue justice on Xie Yu, but I don’t blame him, honestly, knowing what we know.

Welcome to Jinling envoys from Chu! And they even brought presents. Note that when the Princess asks “Do you think this time we will be able to… “ and Prince Ling says “Don’t worry, did not Priest Chen already say that when we get there, your wish will come true”. Not sure if the actual translation means “Priest” but I believe he is referring to Lin Chen, MCS’ best friend, leader of Langya Hall and a beautiful man. Do you all remember when MCS discussed sending Lin Chen to Chu?

Nihuang tearfully tells MCS the news she is leaving and of course he figures out the Emperor’s motive. OK so are we all crying right now? I know I am. Poor Nihuang. Poor MCS. The song (Aging of a Beauty) that is being played as we cry is sung by actress Liu Tao (Nihuang herself).

Fairy Gong Yu has planted some intel with Banruo…

Outside the front gates there is lots of testosterone flying between Prince Mu Qing and the Chu Prince Ling. Check out Xia Dong’s face. She is awesome. Notice that Xia Dong mentions that Princess Nian is a disciple of Yue Xiuze (trained in Eyun style). Xia Dong mentions that Master Yue Xiuze is not on the Chu visitor list but maybe he is in town to fight Zhuo father. Note – Zhuo father is ranked 4th and Yue Xuize is ranked 5th so he can gain a rank if he beats him. I personally am quite pleased that Xia Dong is attending the party. I love her.

Now I really need some of those heart pills so I will need to have a party and Invite MCS.

E19 Recap

  • I feel like I am in line waiting to get on the Wild Mouse Scary Roller Coaster – right – about – now
  • There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. 
  •  Sometimes I think Consort Jing is with a tiger whenever the Emperor is with her

DID YOU KNOW…

  • In the novel Princess Nian Jian was dressed as a man and wore a mask of human skin (shudder) to hide her identity during the fight at the gates with Jingrui

——————————————————-
E20 – A very un-Happy 25th un-birthday. The house is getting ready when Yujin and Fairy Gong arrive. Banruo and Prince Yu are watching the time. MCS arrives looking quite spiffy (and Buddha-like) in his outfit and with ten heart protection pills. Fei Liu is missing…

A few things worth noting:

  • Xia Dong is testing Zhuo father’s skills with chop sticks and this fight is awesome. Remember that Xuanjing Bureau members are not allowed to fight for rank on the Langya Hall List. So she did not challenge Zhuo father for ranking but to see if his moves equate to the murders outside the Palace on New Year’s Eve.  
  • Fairy Gong Yu – at least please at least try to match the guqin sounds with your fingers and only one side of the instrument is supposed to lay flat on the surface.
  • Grand Princess Liyang is shedding tears over the memories Gong Yu’s song is bringing back. Is she thinking of this official from Southern Chu that Banruo was talking about? Is she feeling robbed of the one person she really did love? She has to live with a man who drugged and raped her in order to marry her?
  • Marquis Ning – ugh – maybe the only person in this world that he might have some actual affection for is his wife? – BUT – only if it does not interfere with his own agenda. I say ‘All that he had done he has done for himself and himself only.’

Here comes the Chu envoy for a fight (note that they waited until Gong Yu was done playing to enter). At least one of them did – Master Yue Xiuze – to challenge Zhuo father for 4th ranking on the Langya List. Marquis Ning is concerned. Note from the novel – Zhou Dingfeng had fought and won his first match against Yue Xiuze at the age of twenty seven, and at thirty-five, he had fought him again and bested him once more. This is their third fight.  No matter how hard the Marquis of Ning tries to stop him, Zhuo father is held by his Jianghu code of honor. 

Fei Liu is found doing arts and crafts cutwork with the bows.

Aiya! I need one of those heart pills! 

Princess Nian Nian removes her face veil and reveals everything. Excerpt from Novel: The two [Jingrui and Nian Nian] stood like this, staring at one another. To everyone looking on, it was as if two copies had been made of the same face, one sharper and more heroic, given to the boy, and one sweeter and gentler, given to the girl. Source

GP Liyang fell in love with the Prince of Chu (now King Yu Wen Lin) and got pregnant. Stop and think about this. Could this be why she put up with the Marquis of Ning for all these years or is there more guilt for other actions?

We are about to get real deep here – Fairy Gong Yu’s father was killed by Marquis Xie because he killed the wrong baby…this is some mind blowing stuff going on right here.

In the drama Gong Yu says that “the baby who was killed had a red dot between his eyebrows”. In the novel Gong Yu says “At the time, the infant died without a wound or scar on his body, only a little redness between his eyebrows, am I correct?” I believe that the redness/red dot was the cause of death versus a birthmark and she was just verifying that her information proves that it was actually her father who did the dirty deed. Note – it took a few watches to catch this.

MCS is not surprised. And here is why MCs was so troubled. He knew Jingrui’s heart would be broken tonight. He arranged for Gong Yu to be invited and also to deliver the message to Banruo. He knew all about the baby issue and Gong Yu’s father and even gave her the signal to laugh. He prepared the heart pills for Zhuo father. He knew the Marquis would try to kill over this so Fei Liu had a mission. He knew the Marquis murderous rage could be checked with Meng Zhi and Xia Dong in attendance. He arranged for Prince Yu to back him up. Remember that he had sent Lin Chen to Chu (see my comment about ‘Priest Chen’ under E19).

MCS actually considered the escalation of events to be a benefit to him when all is said and done – the more the Marquis Xie looks like the bad guy, the more severe the punishment. In fact, he made preparations for events that occurred immediately afterward, which, if our poor hearts can stand it, we witness shortly…

E20 Recap

  • Meng Zhi and Xia Dong make a great team
  • I need some of whatever vitamins old Master Yue is taking
  • Now there are two ladies I would never mess with – Linyan’s Momo and Zhou Mother

DID YOU KNOW…

  • Jingrui’s birthdays were doubly special because he essentially had two sets of parents and siblings
  • In the novel Grand Princess Liyang fainted when Nian Nian identified herself
  • The party was held in the Rain-Chime Hall in the Marquis residence
  • The song that Gong Yu is playing on the guqin is entitled The [Male] Phoenix Seeks His Mate and BE has posted a lovely link to this beautiful music!

——————————————————-
E21 –

Fangurl – you bring forth a good question in “What I’m curious to know, though, is how Grand Princess Liyang had known that Jingrui was her son? I see three scenarios:

  1. That redness/red dot between the Zhuo baby’s eyebrows was really an actual birthmark instead of the cause of death (I personally believe it is cause of death)
  2. GP Liyang and her Momo realized a golden opportunity when the storm hit and the Momo purposely switched the babies knowing that the one assumed to be Jingrui would be killed.
  3. There was be no way for anyone to know who Jingru was (if this is the case the almost identical features between Jingrui and his sister Nian Nian assure us that Jingrui is really Jingrui). I looked and found nothing to support Jingrui having a birthmark.

On all three above scenarios there are two constants:

  1. The remaining baby who was alive had to have been switched back to GP Liyang
  2. GP Liyang has lied to the Zhuo family for years.

I see a few different views on this in comments and I find them all interesting. I am finding zero backstory on this in the novel. If anything does come up to clarify the situation I will comment on this thread.

What is breaking my heart is watching Yujin’s expression as he listens to Gong Yu. Gong Yu further sinks the knife of their sad reality into the Zhuo family, and I believe that MCS has pre-arranged her narrative as well.

In fact everyone’s expressions are breaking my heart. The Marquis could care less if Bi kills himself or not and frankly, I feel sorry for him.

Everyone is fighting to the death. Xia Dong send up the Xuanjing Bureau’s SOS signal. Meng Zhi and Lil Bit Fei Liu are so darn good right now it is taking my breath away. Wow – the Marquis is one bodacious nasty piece of work.

The group is led by Jingrui to the pavilion at the back of the house. How did MCS know about the hidden room? There is no backstory to this in the novel so I conclude that he had people embedded in the Marquis’ household who shared this with him. Note – attaching an overhead shot of the pavilion Qing Ming Shang He Tu at the bottom of my comment. Note that the site does not specify NIF but this is the place (with a few different paint colors). The Marquis’ soldiers are facing the number 2 and number 5 ranked Langya Hall list martial artists on that bridge.

Awful things happen. A volley of arrows barrage the pavilion. You can see that even MCS is concerned. In fact, this is one of the few times I can say that MCS is very concerned.

I can’t believe that Marquis Xie has the dirty nerve to chat so casually with Marquis Yan and Prince Yu. But Marquis Yan is so impressive right now and I just can’t love him enough. Luckily Grand Princess Liyang stops this chaos. She has had enough and does not harm to come to all her family members. Remember that Marquis Yan is her sister-in-law’s (the Empress) brother and Prince Yu is her nephew. 

It is over. Xia Dong reminds MCS that she will be limited in her actions regarding this because the Xuanjing Bureau is firmly committed to not get involved in political or faction disputes. Remember that they work directly for the Emperor and answer only to him.

–>Now to address Fangurl’s very smart observation from a few posts ago regarding finding proof that the Zhuos were responsible for the New Year’s Eve murder of the Palace Guards. Fangurl I just want to say that MCS now has surefire proof that the Tianquan Manor was responsible for those murders plus so much more. MCS had to get it to the point where there was no way out for this family except to confess all and get Prince Yu to lessen the damage while obtaining all the information he needed.

E21 Recap

  • The main Capital Patrol guard General Ouyang Chi played by actor Liu Hong Xing is also the same guy who was Minister Qi’s right hand man and he is also one the directors of the drama. Novel Note: Marquis Yan has a pervious history with General Ouyang Chi and knows him well.
  • Marquis Yan is a total bad ass.

DID YOU KNOW…

  • In the novel it was Fei Liu who took the firework from Xia Dong and set it off. MCS told her “Let Fei Liu go, he likes these.” As Fei Liu watched the firework go off he casually reached over and broke the necks of two of the Marquis’ soldiers. “
  • The title of this chapter in the novel is “Escape from Death’s Door” – totally appropriate
Site of Marquis of Ning home showing the pavillion.png
Last edited 17 days ago by phl1rxd
BE
BE
16 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Just terrific. I love the way you note details easy to overlook that may have implications as we go on. Between you and K, I cannot imagine someone wanting to see show at some later date and not taking advantage of her posts and your wonderful commentary.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
16 days ago
Reply to  BE

Thank you BE – for a second watcher you have so easily understood many of the hidden threads running through. Understanding these took me quite a long time – most impressive! You do credit to your profession.

I wish I could write as beautifully as Fangurl – she just wraps things up in nice little packages with big beautiful bows and graciously hands them out to us. She has the innate ability to pick up on all the emotional nuances and describes them to perfection. My background as an auditor pushes me to dig too much. I just can’t help it. The lure of the threads in this drama sucked me back in over and over again.

Question – what is your feeling about the baby switch? It is a bit scary that GP Liyang and/or her Momo would be that devious but someone had to switch the babies back so that the Zhuo family had the dead baby. The storm was an unknown factor. I do think GP Liyang was desperate to save her baby but how far would she go to do so?

An aside/backstory about the similarity on looks between Jinrui, his father and his sister – Author Hai Yan’s Notes: Regarding Jingrui’s similarity to his birth father, she says that she thought of it like this: Basically the Da Chu prince was being held as a hostage in Da Liang and living somewhere inside the palace where he wasn’t allowed to see outsiders. And Princess Liyang “wasn’t a good little girl” back then, and plus the previous Emperor [present Emperor’s father] was rather more lenient than the current one, so she met the hostage and…stuff happened. But no one outside the palace saw the hostage much, and anyway, it’s been twenty years, so even though Jingrui looks more and more like his birth father (the hostage) as he grows up, not many people made the connection, and those who did were people of the palace who knew to keep their mouths shut. And actually the Liang Emperor eventually figured it out and knew it was true beyond doubt, but by that time he really liked Jingrui, and this was still his sister’s son, and anyway Xie Yu hadn’t said anything so he just let it go, and if anyone were to bring it up he would have just suppressed it and buried it, and definitely wouldn’t have actively pursued any leads on it, cuz there’s the imperial face to consider yo.

And as for the hostage Yuwen Lin’s current situation in Da Chu, she has this to say: He is warm and generous (Jingrui takes after him), and lives the leisurely life of a prince, and although his daughter is close to her cousin Yuwen Xuan [Prince Ling], he himself seldom interacts with the outside world.

She says this will all come up later in the story, but she’s saying it now because some clever readers are going to ask “Why didn’t anyone realize Jingrui looks the same as some Prince from Da Chu?”

She also says there’s no way to record anyone’s appearance, so even if Jingrui looks like his father, he looks like his father in his youth, and so even if someone saw Jingrui and saw the now-middle-aged Prince with his nice long beard, unless they knew the whole story, they wouldn’t necessarily make the connection right away. Even for Nian Nian, if she wasn’t standing right beside Xiao Jingrui, they probably wouldn’t achieve that jaw-dropping effect. [my note – the drama does not really get this across as I did not see that much of a identical twin-like similarity between Jingrui and Nian Nian as so strongly stated in the novel.]

She goes on to talk a bit more about very persistent readers who might ask why no one had discovered the similarity in all the years of Jingrui’s life (her answer: someone did – Xiao Su) and very very persistent readers who might go on to ask “why was it Xiao Su who discovered it and why didn’t he discover it earlier” (her answer: ……because that’s how the story works).

And she basically says if you keep asking, then she will be like Yujin face to face with Xia Dong – unable to resist (i.e. defend herself). Source

Another huge thank you to the novel translators for allowing their work to be embedded with a link back – I doubt that I could have written this better using my own words. If only she had elaborated on the switch! I will continue to look to see what I can find on this. I believe someone somewhere has something on this (that is a lot of somes). It would be really helpful if I could understand mandarin as many sources of information are not translated. I bet you MCS knows LOL!

BE
BE
16 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Have you had a baby? First moment looking into their eyes, I knew what they looked like. No one could have switched them to fool me.

BE
BE
16 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Oh, and this, I have done reviews, albeit of music, and you have to concentrate and hear everything if you are going to write about it with any intelligence at all. And literary analysis was my academic thing, something I taught for over two decades. Most of all I read books to my kids when they were little, which meant I had to read interpretively to keep their attention, and to do that meant keeping track of stories. My big problems with both K Drama and this is that for some reason I cannot remember names, just cannot keep a handle on them, and, alas, my focus is considerably diminished from earlier years. My memory when I was younger was my secret weapon; alas but that is not so true any more. Finally, all this is also in service of K, who provides us these fora with all that hard work and generosity, and I am trying to get it right as a result.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
15 days ago
Reply to  BE

BE – I also have the problem with names in both K and C Drama. It is a credit to the drama that so many international fans are crazy about it as I am fairly certain they struggled with the names as well. As for memory problems I am in the same boat.

I am so grateful that Fangurl chose this drama for the group watch. I am delighted to have others to discuss this with and read their points of view and reactions. It brings me so much joy.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
14 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Thank you very much for your breakdown! I had no idea on my first watch that Lin Shu’s mother was a sister of the Emperor! So I was rather puzzled at certain points of the watch. I had to ask my colleague who explained that family connection to me.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Hi Elaine! It gets really deep when you sit and think about who is who and who they really are to each other. It really makes MCS’ story that much more painful. When we get farther along I will comment on those connections. 🧐 I am really trying to be careful not to spoil anyone’s watch.

Also – I am so glad you are enjoying your 2nd watch! I am eagerly looking forward to Fangurl’s post next week as it will be wondrously epic.

melka
melka
13 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Hurrah for the shout out to Marquis Yan. His actions were a very neat follow up to the story that MCS told about him singlehandedly breaking the alliance that threatened to invade and divide Da Liang through nothing but his words and force of character as a diplomat. I like to imagine that Marquis Yan was a subtle inspiration for MCS, who lacks martial skill but uses his intellect to lead the Jiangzuo alliance.

Natalia
Natalia
17 days ago

Ok, I need to rewatch episode 20. I was certain Gong Yu said that Grand Princess Liyand had an older maid by her side (Amy guess, that old lady who shamed the Marquis into leaving her mistress alone in a previous episode) so I assumed (or was it said?) that Liyang found out about her husband’s plans to kill her baby and sort of made it so that the assassin would get the Zhuo child instead. And I was pretty pissed off with Liyang about it,even though so far she’d been one of my favorite characters.
So, did I understand it all wrong? Maybe K’s mom, as a NIF veteran, has an idea?

So, Jingrui is devastated, sure, but I’m pretty happy things went down like this, because both his fathers sucked. The Marquis for obvious reasons and Zhuo because, well, he must not be the most intelligent nor have the strangest character. Maybe the Southern Chu dad is a better choice, although his sister is decidedly an idiot. And what was that with that random old man that came to challenge Zhuo out of nowhere. Is he also from Southern Chu (I think Prince Ling-by the way, a rather strange character himself-said they just happened to arrive at the Xie mansion at the same time?)

What a cool birthday present for a 20 year old, heart pills! From that alone, it was obvious that things would turn sour. (A propos, although I like the actor playing Jingrui, he looks more like 40 than 20. Age appropriate cast seems to be a real challenge for the show).

All things considered, these episodes had a seriously addictive effect on me. But for the action scenes which, I am not ashamed to admit, I fast forward, I just love all the machinations and secret plots. I wonder whether princess Nian’s ridiculous presence at the party was also part of a hidden plan, because otherwise it was so random, and so far the show doesn’t do random.

Oh! Last thought: on my part, I seriously believe that Marquis Ning cares for his wife. I think she’s his only soft spot (on the contrary, he’s one jerk of a father, poor Xie Bi…).

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

Hi Natalie – Yes Grand Princess Liyang had her Momo with her (good eyes Nat as yes, she is the same Momo who smacked down the Marquis in an earlier episode) at the temple.

GP Liyang did know in advance that her husband Marquis of Ning was going to try to kill her child. Can you imagine how she must have felt?

As for them (her and her Momo) planning a switch there is nothing in the novel backing this, although that may have happened – it is kind of up for debate.

I also want some of those heart pills!

JIngrui’s sister, Prince Ling and Master Yue were kind of a ‘package deal’. Master Yue is an official from Chu who quit to be able to challenge Zhuo father so there would be proof for Xia Dong and Meng Zhi that the fighting style of Zhuo father would produce the wounds seen on the guards murdered n New Years Eve (that awful stab wound through the neck). This was all set up by MCS in advance so Jingrui’s birth could be revealed and Marquis of Ning’s house of cards would collapse.

I hope I made sense!

Natalia
Natalia
17 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Oh! So it was not random that the trio from Southern Chu showed up. Thanks so much, I was wondering about that. We don’t see MCS interacting with them beforehand (unless I completely missed that, my attention span is lacking of late), so I guess it is explained later on?
I haven’t checked ep. 20 but I’m so glad I misunderstood (or rather imagined things) because I would be seriously disappointed if Liyang had purposefully condemned the Zhuo baby and then spent twenty years being their close friend (and family, through marriage).
Thank you! You’re really helping by always answering even the silliest questions!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
16 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

You are correct Natalie, in that we do not see MCS interacting with them beforehand – we are only dropped certain lines here and there. There is no silly question Natalie as I have asked them all as well. This is a complicated drama and looking back I can testify to missing tons on my first watch. Look at you – catching the 2nd Momo sighting which I missed completely my first go-round. Good job you!

Natalia
Natalia
16 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Haha yes, but I imagined she helped Liyang swap the babies so that Jingrui live, so, what can I say, I have a vivid imagination!!

Ele Nash
17 days ago

Eek, I wrote a lengthy(ish) post that I managed to, um, not post… Oh. Well, the upshot of it was:
Episode 19 and 20 – Yes, clever Mei Changsu manoeuvring the chess pieces in place to tell some truths regarding the mysteries around Jingrui. I was impressed, albeit a horrible realisation /betrayal for Jingrui and the Zhous. Oh, Jingrui-lamb! He looked like his heart just got stepped on. And while I desperately want these South people to be the wholesome family he deserves, I get the impression from pesky sister (yes, Yujin, you tell her to shut up!) that all may not be well. And also, for Jingrui in general. I feel like Show is readying me to have my heart broken here😭
Speaking of – oof, Nihuang’s farewell to Mei Changsu. His little face! What I do like about MCS is, however cloaked he keeps his emotions, he does allow them to break free with Nihuang when really pressed. I really, really want them to live happily away from the evils of palace life but, yeah, of course my heart will undoubtedly be broken here.
So, then episode 21 is where my head, rather than my heart, exploded 🤯 What the actual hell was MCS thinking in putting all these people (most of them unwittingly) into such a terribly dangerous situation?! Argh, swords swinging and arrows flying. Any of them could have died and it seemed to me a fluke no one did, rather than clever plotting. Mei Changsu clearly guessed old Xie would opt for killing everyone, so he took one heck of a gamble that Liang would pull through and persuade him otherwise. I mean, Xie could have grabbed the blade from her and shut her away, if he was so inclined. He’d be foolish to do that, I know, but in the heat of the moment, he was all out ready to do away with everyone – including Commander Meng and the police-type woman and Yujin… That seems like political suicide right there but he was still getting those arrows fired in all directions. I guess at least MCS actually did look quite concerned when an arrow just missed his head…
So, Mei Changsu gege, you earned a point for your cunning in trapping Xie and breaking the bonds with the Zhous, a point for hugging Nihuang, but minus one hundred points for basically gambling with a lot of people’s lives. You may have nothing to lose, but what about poor Jingrui and Yujin, the police woman (sorry, I just can’t remember her name), the Zhou mum, the pregnant daughter, that old chap who came to fight, even Gong Yu? Hmm? Well? Tsk.

BE
BE
17 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Every semester when I was teaching, I would say to myself at the start, now if only nothing goes wrong this semester, I am gonna kick some serious butt. LOL. Murphy had a law named after him. Siht happens.

Ele Nash
17 days ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Hello! Yes, I see both my comments now! Feel free to delete one or the other 😘 Glad it seems sorted. xx

Ele Nash
17 days ago

Gosh 🤯 I do need your summaries, kfangurl. I got so very puzzled by the whole baby-share / not-a-baby-share that I wanted to drop to my knees with poor Jingrui.
And… I can’t fathom how Mei Changsu could put them all in such jeopardy. Those arrows and flying swords could have killed any one of them at any moment and it was only sheer fluke (it seemed to me) that they all survived, rather than clever plotting by MCS. I was with him for episode 19 and 20, and duly impressed that he’d manoeuvred them all to that one place to reveal some truth – even though I was annoyed he did it at Jingrui’s birthday party, though I guess he needed it to happen on Xie’s home turf. But then episode 21 blew my mind, that after all that toiling to reach this moment, MCS basically had led them all into mortal danger. How could he be so sure Xie would back down when faced with a desperate, knife-wielding Liang? They’d all be dead if Xie had manhandled the knife from her and shut her away so she couldn’t object or kill herself.
I know there was some debate about how bad MCS is / is going to be because of the fireworks explosion and whether he knew it would go down like that. I feel like this week shows an equal dilemma. If he knew Xie would react with such hostility, he really is to my mind (by having Jingrui and Yujin and commander Meng and Zhou’s wife and the pregnant daughter and like people who are connected to these events but aren’t bad people and certainly don’t deserve to get shot at by arrows) actually pretty audacious indeed. He has nothing to lose, fine. But what about those unwitting, like Jingrui and Yujin??!!
But, I guess my reaction shows how protective I feel of them. Darn it, I hoped having a different father might be a good thing for Jingrui but judging by that pesky sister (yes, Yujin, tell her to shut up!) I’m not sure it’s going to work out. And now I’m anxious that Jingrui’s future is being set up to break my heart…
Just as Nihuang leaving Mei Changsu hurt pretty bad. Oof, his face! What I must say is how much I’m enjoying the restraint MCS shows but then in real moments of heartache, he’s so present and giving with Nihuang.
So, MCS, plus point for hug to Nihuang, minus ten for that disastrous party, even if it was a ‘win’ to land Xie in very hot water.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
16 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Hi Ele – I also love that Yujin so quickly snapped around to tell Nian Nian to shut up. That was right on time!

I completely understand your reaction to the very real danger that MCS placed everyone in at that pavilion. I do not know if this will help, but wait until you get a real good look at his reasons next week. It will help you understand his actions a bit better.

Ele Nash
14 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Oh, OK, I’m super intrigued! 🤔

Geo
Geo
12 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

@Ele Nash: I think MCS expected Prince Yu and his guards to enter the Xie mansion when the Jingrui birth secret was revealed and the Marquis would have to resort to force to survive unscathed. Prince Yu’s status and his armed force were designed to counter Xie’s guards. However, stupid Prince Yu allowed Xie to send a messenger to get the Barracks Imperial Guards to come protect his property under a trumped up excuse. This then placed MCS and his group in a tenuous situation since Prince Yu’s outside force was effectively neutralized. He did plan for the show of force by the Marquis (had Fei Lu cut all the bowstrings, alerted Prince Yu to bring his guards and enter at his signal) but didn’t anticipate the Marquis would succeed in getting outside help with Prince Yu’s guards surrounding the property.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
18 days ago

This is my second time watching NIF. I have been lagging behind the group watch but made sure to catch up today so I could enjoy all the OMG reactions from everyone watching for the first time! 😂

GuruGulabKhatri
GuruGulabKhatri
18 days ago

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

That’s it, that is all that I have to say.

jisaab
jisaab
18 days ago

Ahhh I’ve missed these group watches! Work has been insane and I kept on missing these! So glad I caught this one! On that note, great review as always kfangirl! I’m so excited to read the other comments as well!

I feel like the Jingrui birth reveal episodes were kind of like a turning point in the story? Like there was a distinct shift where I felt like shit just got real and went like “maybe he doesn’t make it out alive?” The suspense was great!

I also think these episodes were incredible – not just in terms of showcasing the actors’ ranges, but for the character development! I’m so curious about how princess Liyang managed to live so long with Xie Yu and why he’s so obsessed with her. And man, the reveal was just so absolutely shattering for Jingrui. Jingrui is such a good dude too – definitely didn’t deserve all this. Nor did the Zhou family. It was such a tragedy. It’s insane how evil Xie Yu is. But even then he’s capable of love? affection? for princess Liyang. Generally, the reveal was so well executed!

Sidenote, I kinda wish they showed us how Mei Changsu got into touch with his “army”. Like how did he meet Gong Yu?

Speaking of him, I’m still so worried and confused for him and Nihuang. Ugh my heart wants them to be together so bad but my mind keeps reminding me that Mei Changsu is sick and might not make it. I keep clinging to hope that they end up with their happily ever after but I feel like they might not.

Finally, the Prince Qi mystery unravels! Although we didn’t get to meet him, I feel like he would’ve been a good king. Ah, how different everyone’s lives would’ve been! But also, I feel like it wasn’t just Xie Yu that brought him down. It had to be other people too. But that begs the question of exactly why Prince Qi was targeted. Was he just a victim of circumstance or was it his personality that was his downfall?

As fun as this show is to watch tho, it can get so heavy. The more I watch, especially scenes where Mei Changsu interacts with people in his past (i.e. Nihuang, Commander Meng and especially Prince Jing), the more it hits how difficult it must’ve been and must be for him. To have everything ripped away from him in a second. To be so close to the people he loves but unable to freely love them. To be reminded of relics of his past constantly. It’s honestly such a terribly sad position to be in. Hu Ge does such a wonderful job portraying him.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
15 days ago
Reply to  jisaab

@jisaab – I love this entire comment but especially your last paragraph. It really syncs with me and yes, it is heavy. While all the scheming is the ‘mind’ of the drama, your paragraph captures the ‘heart’ of the drama.

This role was Hu Ge’s lifetime crowning achievement and many thanks to his fans as they are the ones who bombarded the production company with social media to cast him in this role.

As for the backstory of MCS, the Jiangzuo Alliance and Gong Yu – I am so hoping that the upcoming NIF3 is a prequel and we get to learn more about Lin Shu’s youth and the 12 years preceding MCS’ arrival in Jingling. The writer of the completed script and everything about the production is shrouded in secrecy. Fingers crossed. I personally would love to see Lin Shu and Nihuang in their youth, Fei Liu’s tragic background and the growth of his relationship with MCS and the MCS/Lin Chen arc.

I cannot wait for Fangurl’s post next week – it is going to be an eye opener.

Leslie
18 days ago

I was like, Omo! Omo! Omo! watching these episodes. Then I remembered that we’re speaking Mandarin these days. 😆

My engagement with NIF has increased each episode, but these three episodes had me at the edge of my seat. Especially the last, as Xie Yu relentlessly parried attempts to free the Zhuos and other “guests”. Xie Yu is evil, yes, and brazen. I realized how much power he wields, that he believes/ed he could get away with killing/murdering these nobles (with dozens of people watching), apparently with impunity.

There is so much structure and stylization in the interactions at Court, that it appears to be civilized society. Cozy family celebrations and friendly get-togethers add to the impression. Then, in the course of one birthday party, the facade is ripped away and we see the barbarity just beneath. No one is safe. The stakes at play for Mei Chang Su and the people who have wittingly, and unwittingly, joined his cause, are becoming ever clearer to me. 😳

BE
BE
17 days ago
Reply to  Leslie

Yeah, the veneer is so perfect, but the barbarity so astonishingly horrific.

BE
BE
18 days ago

Thanks for the lucid synopsis K. The one point I would add was that one of the babies had a mark between his eyes at birth, I think Jinrui, and that would explain how Princess Liang knew what she knew.

It is startling to me, on this second go round, especially with so many folks here pitching in, how completely the events of episode 21 were spelled out if one is paying attention from the beginning to the Marquis and Liang subplot in the story. Their family and family history is labyrinthine and twisty, but show writer takes nearly the whole twenty one episodes to spell it out. For me, episode 21 is truly the culmination of everything that preceded it as the first part of Mei Chang Su’s quest for justice on behalf of his family and clan and all allied with them in the past, against that villain the Marquis, who as we truly find out with Meng’s interview with Jing was the prime mover and catalyst of the betrayal and massacre.

It is true that NIF is a largely intellectual drama, but I am a fan of the brilliance in its plotting, and for me, episode 21, perhaps because Xie Yu is so much at the heart of the tragedy befalling Mei Chang Su, et al, and bringing him down by the actions of the one person he appears vulnerable to, his wife, is so satisfying, especially as one also sees the inevitability now of the Crown Prince falling as without Xie Yu, his best bow in the game of thrones going on has been unstrung.

What makes this episode particularly moving, however, is the tragedy of Jingrui, the disillusionment he is forced to bear, not only concerning himself and his heritage, but the disillusionment with his entire family, particularly the fathers, which has been building for a few episodes. Whatever he chooses to do now, his house has fallen into calamity and his only options are to stay with his mother, reminded daily of his family’s disgrace, wherever she will be forced to relocate or go to his father and escape the horrors of the capital leaving his dearest friend and his brothers behind.

I love how Xia Dong upbraids Mei Chang Su in the pavilion. She is so upright an individual, and MCS does, despite the righteousness of his cause, deserve to be called out on the account of turning even the most virtuous of young men into a pawn to be played out in his game. And it is true too that Xia Dong views the world in a rather tunnel visioned manner, of which MCS in a moment of defensiveness, honest umbrage, and some wisdom reminds her.

Insofar as the separation and parting of Nihuang and Lin Shu, one can easily imagine one of those grand T’ang poets of the following century writing a heartbreakingly beautiful set of verses to a plaintive melody describing the endless rounds of political mayhem, wars, and rebellions, against which the pangs of longing of this noble princess for her lover come back from the dead utterly disfigured by time give humanity its bitter sweet meaning that can unlike the passing of warring generations stand the test of time. Such a classic take, Nihuang and Mei Chang Su.

Of course, the heroes of this final episode are Liang and to a lesser degree, Madame Zhuo, just as the understated second tragedy is that of Qing, for whom, as his father’s right hand man in the crimes of his uncle, and the husband of his uncle’s daughter, now heavily pregnant with child herself, the reverberations of that night is likely to thrum through his brain for some time to come.

I do love the flying chopstick sparring match.

And this: aka “The Phoenix Seeks His Mate,” a title to bring tears to a long lost mate in a way perhaps that calling it courtship does not explain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFU0DflUVuk

Last edited 18 days ago by BE
Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
18 days ago
Reply to  BE

What a well written comment! Indeed, this showdown is so epic and moving precisely because show has taken the time to set up the characters, and the close family dynamics between Zhuos and Xies (they just had such a warm New year celebration a few months before this) that the revelations are so truly shocking and awful. Amazingly done by show, I was definitely consumed with suspense and at the edge of my seat the first time watching!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
18 days ago
Reply to  BE

BTW the mark between the eyes, if you mean what Gong Yu mentioned in episode 19, was made by her and father, the assassin when he killed the baby. The only evidence was a red mark between the eyes =(

I too am puzzled how Liyang knew that Jingrui was hers. I mean, after he grew up she would probably have noticed his resemblance to the Southern Chu Prince. Otherwise… I dunno, motherly instinct?? Haha.

BE
BE
17 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Thanks for the note on the mark.

Geo
Geo
14 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I think the Momo switched the babies when she felt something was going to happen and the assassin naturally went for the baby in the Momo’s arms. Momo told Liyang after the fact so Liyang knows the surviving baby is hers.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago
Reply to  BE

BE – thanks for posting that link to The Phoenix Seeks his Mate! You beat me to it LOL! It is beautiful.

BE
BE
17 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I looked at several, but this was the most passionately played, and seemed to fit the kind of mood that might have broken Liang down the way show portrayed her response.

beez
16 days ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – But if there were a birthmark on the baby, then that would mean that Zhou(?)’s wife (Jingri’s other mom) knew and has been in denial all these years (but from her reaction to the news, I don’t believe that).

BE
BE
16 days ago
Reply to  beez

I was wrong about the mark, misinterpreted it. But I do not see the problem with facial recognition of your own baby.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  BE

BE – you do have a point. I have thought about this a lot since you posted this comment. My son looked so much like his father that even at birth there would be no mistaking him from other babies.

Given that the novel stresses the almost identical faces of JIngrui, his sister and his hostage father this may well have been the case for GP Liyang to know exactly which baby was hers. Note – It is hard to follow this train of thought in the drama as these two actors really do not look identical. But this is why Nian Nian always had that semi-mask on and only took it off at the moment of reveal.

I also thought that the mark referred to was the identifying factor. It took a few watches to catch what it really was so you are in good company.

Trent
18 days ago

Wow, these were an impressive set of action-packed, ante-upping episodes, for sure!

But first things first: I purely love how show uses those few-second flashbacks of adolescent Lin Shu and Mu Nihuang practicing sword forms together as a marker of their moments of most heightened emotion. This is the second time we’ve seen it, I believe, and I want to see more! They’re so young and carefree and happy together.

I join you in being confused about the Jingrui parentage reveal, in this aspect: I thought when we first got the story of his birth, a few episodes ago, the whole point of him being an equal part of two families was that supposedly there was no way to tell which mother the surviving baby came from, right? And yet now, the GP Liyang is straight out proceeding as though she is the for-sure “real” mother (and everyone seems to be following along with her assertion, as far as I can tell?). Perhaps we’ll learn more about why she’s so sure that it’s really her son?

(I mean, if the Southern Chu characters who have suddenly shown up to assert that Jingrui is Princess Niannian’s gege are correct, then obviously it has to be Liyang as the mother, since she’s the only one to credibly have had a relationship with the hostage prince. But why would the Southern Chu faction know that the surviving child was from a S. Chu father? And why would anyone listening to them at the party have grounds to think their assertions were accurate, anyway? These are mysteries that need clearing up).

Also, while we’re on the subject of the Southern Chu, I realize these folks are politically at odds with our protagonists from Da Liang, but I still felt like they were acting kind of like @ssh*les, if you know what I mean? Yes, as you say, Niannian was being kind of pushy and unreasonable (as was Master Yue, to be honest; yes, jianghu codes of honor and the ethics of skill challenges, blah blah blah, whatever, it’s someone’s birthday party, dude, chill. Although he did redeem himself with the rearguard defensive action later, so). But it was Prince Ling who really got me annoyed; what a pushy little git he was acting like, all barging in to a private party like Kanye at the VMAs or something (“Imma let you finish, but…”).

And then Gong Yu…still liking her a lot. Are there any female characters in this show that aren’t total badasses? Even though we get (some of) her backstory, though, the mystery of her entanglement with MCS is still unrevealed and very much a live issue, IMO. I must know more.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Trent – I loved your analysis of Prince Ling – KW – very, very good. There is a lot of testosterone flying around.

I agree that Nian Nian is pushy and Prince Ling is a right cheeky git.

beez
16 days ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – I felt the same way, like Zhou said “can’t we fight tomorrow?” and that just want acceptable even though reasonable which makes me think old dude was under instructions from MCS not to take “later” for an answer.

Geo
Geo
14 days ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez: I think nothing happens by chance in NIF. The Southern Chu party showing up at Jingrui’s birthday is all planned. I seem to remember MCS saying Master Chen (?) from Langya Hall was visiting Southern Chu and subsequently MCS commenting that the Southern Chu party had to arrive by a certain date or not before a certain date, Jingrui’s birthday.

Geo
Geo
14 days ago
Reply to  Trent

On the Southern Chu party’s actions, I don’t think they suddenly show up. MCS has orchestrated this, sending his Langya Hall buddy (if I recall accurately) to tell them all the facets of the Jingrui situation so they came knowing what was going to be revealed and what their role was going to be. MCS has even directed the timing of their arrival.

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

manukajoe
manukajoe
18 days ago

Ep 21 The whole birthday party started well but then turned into this turgid set piece and exposition which was a little beyond me to follow and seemed all rather contrived. Not a fan. And now I need a family tree. It seems Xie Yu’s wife, Jingrui’s real mother, is the Empresses sister?

manukajoe
manukajoe
18 days ago
Reply to  BE

Nice!

j3ffc
j3ffc
18 days ago
Reply to  BE

I badly need this family tree but have to ask: is it spoiler free at this stage? I am barely trading off the benefits of dramatic reveal with plot understanding and don’t want to fall off of the tightwire.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Spoiler
@j3ffc – there are still two spoilers there (safe after E45). Only look at the top half. That being said, it is the best NIF family tree on the internet and I keep a blown up copy of this as a quick reference.

BE
BE
17 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Your info then to j33ffc is there may be some spoilers in it.

J3ffc
J3ffc
16 days ago
Reply to  BE

Thanks, phl1rxd and BE. I’ll hold off on the tree for now. I am, however, compiling in a growing file all of phl1rxd’s list of characters, which has been immensely helpful and to which I regularly turn for help.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
16 days ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Hi j3ffc – there are so many (at present hidden) connections between our main characters not in my character descriptions to avoid spoilers.

There is also a very important character/s connection that is in the open yet remains hidden (due to so many other things going on) and I await the first person to realize this and comment on it. It is a bit soon so maybe later someone will catch on.

I may wait until we get to the last episode and post an updated list as ‘Super Spoilers’ containing everything.

Do hold onto that family tree – it is absolutely top notch.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago
Reply to  manukajoe

The Marquis’ wife, Grand Princess Liyang (mother to Jingrui), is the half sister of the Emperor (different moms, same father) and therefore half sister-in-law to the Empress and Aunt to Prince Yu. Fangurl feel free to mark as spoiler if you think it is.

BE
BE
18 days ago

Before I read your comments K, I want to say two things. In an earlier post we spoke of multi season and single season shows. If I were the show runner for NIF, I would end Season 1 with episode 21 after seven weeks of these three episode weeks, which by happenstance have provided sensible breaks each time. And then I would let my audience sweat it out for a year before picking up season two.

Secondly, that Xia Dong, she is one to “joke around.”

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
17 days ago
Reply to  BE

Due to the natural ‘breaks’ in this drama, I am with you on this BE although I do not know how I would have been able to wait for that 2nd and/or 3rd season. LOL on the ‘joke around’. I can only imagine what was really going through Marquis Xie’s mind at that time!

BE
BE
17 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I know a lot of folks really love to binge this, but I thought the first twenty one episodes were pretty exhausting, particularly keeping up to speed and twenty one so satisfying. And it does not take someone who has seen this to know just by looking at the number of episodes that this is just the first mountain show will climb. And one can assume, that there may will be lingering after effects which may link us to the trail of mountain number two, but all us Sisyphusian Nifties are charged now with starting up another mountain.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
16 days ago
Reply to  BE

Well said BE!

BE
BE
16 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

And of course, there would also be the rewatch of season one before embarking on season two. It is clear to me just reading K’s posts when she refers to her mother’s insights, and reading your commentary that there are so many layers in this, that discovering details from earlier in show via progressive watches enhances the enjoyment of the show as it goes on, providing those delightful and pleasurable biochemical shots to the brain that a ha moments deliver so well.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
14 days ago
Reply to  BE

BE – well said. It is the gift that keeps giving. The onion with multiple layers to peel. It continues to reward you each time with something new. The more you watch, the more you see, the better it is and the feelz increase each time.

In my study of this drama, I have come across fans who have watched it more than thirty times. I was like whew, at least I do not feel so crazy. Again, I would have so much more info to share if I could read and understand Mandarin. This drama made me really want to learn to at least speak it.