Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I hope you guys are ready to dig into this set of episodes! I personally really love this scene, where Mei Changsu and Jingyan exchange glances. Any hint that they’re on the same side always gives me a thrill. 🤩
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! ❤️
After the action and subsequent emotion of the previous episodes, this episode feels rather muted in comparison. Mostly, it feels like things are shifting into place for more important developments. However, we do get some interesting key reveals, which helps to fill in some of the blanks that we’d been wondering about.
Even though, as we learn later, Jingyan’s hesitation to receive the appointment that the Emperor offers him – of managing the Capital patrols – has more to do with his uncertainty around whether this will be in line with Mei Changsu’s plans for him than anything else, I rather like the effect that this has.
Contrasted with the Crown Prince and Prince Yu, who have been reportedly fighting over this appointment for two months, Jingyan appears the opposite of power-hungry, with his hesitation. This definitely colors the Emperor’s perception of him, and since we know that the Emperor is extremely suspicious and wary of those who have ambition for the throne, I figure that this can only be a good thing.
In fact, it seems that the Emperor reads Jingyan’s hesitance as concern over what others might say, and declares that he’ll have Jingyan’s back wherever necessary. This is the most overt show of support that we’ve seen the Emperor give Jingyan, which makes the moment feel quite significant.
Add on the favor that the Emperor then bestows on Jingyan – that he’ll henceforth enjoy the privilege of visiting his mother any time he likes, instead of having to wait for the first day of the month – and it does paint a pretty picture of how Jingyan is growing in favor, in the Emperor’s eyes.
On top of this, there’s also the thing where Consort Jing is also growing in favor and stature in the Inner Court, and this pleases me too. Not only is she deserving, for how gracious and kind she is, it’s also kinda great, that it frustrates Noble Consort Yue.
I kinda love how this puts Prince Yu in such a huff, that he basically bursts into Mei Changsu’s manor unannounced, because he’s beside himself. I love how Mei Changsu always has an alternative explanation for the possibilities that Prince Yu worries about, that is not only persuasive, but somehow still serves Mei Changsu’s own purpose. It’s masterful, really.
However, I do feel like it probably won’t be too long, before Prince Yu becomes suspicious of Mei Changsu’s true loyalties. After all, his instinct around Jingyan gaining favor is not off, and, he’s just as suspicious by nature, as the Emperor.
I’m saddened to realize, this episode, that the reason Mei Changsu’s handwriting has changed completely, is not a matter of strategic disguise; rather, his wrists are now so weak, that he cannot muster up his old handwriting even if he tried. That’s sad. 😢
I’m rather entertained by the fact that Commander Meng gets stuck in the secret chamber for hours, while waiting for Prince Yu to leave Mei Changsu’s manor, but more than that, I’m intrigued by the way certain things seem to give Jingyan pause for thought.
For one thing, there’s the surprise of finding Commander Meng in the secret chamber, because this indicates that Commander Meng and Mei Changsu have a closer relationship than Jingyan had first assumed. And for another, there’s the very casual, friendly manner in which Mei Changsu comes back for Commander Meng, which is very different from the usual, much more measured manner that Mei Changsu tends to keep. Again, this is a big indication that Mei Changsu’s relationship with Commander Meng is surprisingly close.
The fact that Jingyan borrows that travelogue with Mei Changsu’s notes written in the margins does promise to be significant, and tellingly, Mei Changsu looks a bit concerned, even as Jingyan leaves with the book in hand. I wonder if there’s a clue in that travelogue, that will stir up Jingyan’s suspicions around Mei Changsu’s identity? I’m extremely curious to see where this goes.
Meanwhile, we learn some very important bits of information, from Banruo seeking out Fourth Sister, because she needs backup after Mr. Thirteen’s removed a good number of her spies from the court.
As it turns out, it had been Princess Xuanji who had instigated the massacre of the Chiyan Army, because the Chiyan Army had destroyed their Hua tribe. And now, Banruo’s personal mission, is to destroy Da Liang for subjugating their kingdom, that Princess Xuanji’s spirit might be consoled.
Yikes. That’s quite the reveal, isn’t it? Now we see that Banruo definitely does not have Prince Yu’s best interests at heart, as his strategist. It’s mind-boggling, really, to realize that all the time that she’s spent by Prince Yu’s side, over the years, has simply been in service of gaining his trust – so that she would be able to use that trust to her advantage, at some later point in time.
Now I’m curious to know more about Banruo’s plan for Fourth Sister to use her seduction skills on a particular man. What’s that about? I’m intrigued. And, I’m even more curious to know just how Xia Jiang might be connected to Princess Xuanji, since he appears to be the main driver in Da Liang, for that whole conspiracy to take down the Chiyan Army.
As it turns out, there is a clue in the travelogue that would shed light on Mei Changsu’s identity as Lin Shu, but Mei Changsu quells his instinctive discomfort, with the fact that Jingyan wouldn’t be able to pick up on said clue, since the clue has to do with Lin Shu’s mother’s maiden name, and Jingyan was not aware of that name.
The plot thickens, however, by the time we get to the end of our episode, since Consort Jing requests to read the book after Jingyan shares an interesting tidbit of information he’s learned from it. Oohh. Jingyan might not know Lin Shu’s mother’s name, but Consort Jing, being from the previous generation, and being as shrewd and intelligent as she is, might plausibly piece it together? Ahhh! Does this mean that it won’t be long before Jingyan knows that Mei Changsu is really his best friend Lin Shu?? 😱 Egad. My heart is already in my throat, just thinking about it.
In the meantime, one of this episode’s biggest arcs, is Jingrui deciding to make a trip to Southern Chu, to see his father. Augh. I still feel so sorry for Jingrui; he’s been through a lot, and as Liyang points out, he may look alright on the surface, but there is a lot of deep emotional turmoil that he still needs to work through. Because of this, for the record, I still don’t really much care for Princess Niannian.
The way she keeps on pushing for Jingrui to go with her to Southern Chu feels pushy, to my eyes. Plus, there’s the way she instinctively urges Jingrui to just leave, when Yujin comes after them on horseback. That feels unreasonable to me. I mean, there could be a valid reason that someone’s calling out to Jingrui, and she’d rather he just turn around and keep on going. However, we later learn that their father is very ill, and in critical condition, so I suppose there is a valid reason for her singleminded pushiness.
I really love the scene between Jingrui and Yujin. Yujin really does love Jingrui, and can’t bear to see him go. There’s so much care, friendship and loyalty communicated here. I love how Yujin’s entire demeanor changes, once he realizes that Jingrui isn’t leaving for good, and has every intention of coming back. Aw. Yujin was afraid he’d lose his best friend for good.
I appreciate how Yujin attempts to help Jingrui feel better, by telling him that the problems of the previous generation aren’t his to bear. However, Jingrui has a valid point too; everything’s changed, so he can’t not change too, as a result. The way Yujin tells Jingrui that his only wish is that their friendship never changes, is so childlike and endearing.
I’m glad that Jingrui is able to speak so honestly about how he feels, and I’m also glad that these two buddies have a chance to hug it out. They really are the sweetest pair of best friends. ❤️
The conversation between Jingrui and Mei Changsu is another personal highlight of the episode, for me. I’m relieved for Mei Changsu, that he gets a chance to express to Jingrui, how sorry he is, for the way he’d revealed the truth. More than that, though, I’m blown away by Jingrui’s show of grace.
To Mei Changsu’s apology, Jingrui says, “What can I blame you for? My mother’s past has nothing to do with you. My birth was not arranged by you too. All the despicable acts, were done by Marquis Xie himself. You did not plan them too. How can I hate you? You merely revealed the truth. What really hurt me, was the truth itself. I will not place my hate on you.”
“Yes. I was really upset about what you did. But I am after all, no longer a child. I understand that all humans have to make a choice. You chose to reveal what you think is most important to you, and chose to abandon me. This is merely your choice. If I chose to hate you because I was not chosen by you. Then aren’t there too many unforgivable things in this world? After all, no one in this world is obliged to put me first. No matter how much I wish they would, I cannot force them to.”
“I treated you thus because I was willing to. If I was able to get such loyalty in return, I would, of course, be happy. But if I don’t, I have no regrets as well.”
Such grace, such maturity and such wisdom from Jingrui, overlaid by equal amounts of sadness and resignation. Oof. I feel heartbroken for him, for all that he’s lost, literally overnight. Not only has he lost an entire family and the relationships within that family, he’s lost his innocence as well. 💔
From the drawn look on Mei Changsu’s face, I feel like this thing with Jingrui, where he’d singlehandedly orchestrated the revelation that would steal Jingrui’s joy, will haunt him for a long time. It’s some consolation that he’s able to provide protection for Jingrui as he makes his way to Southern Chu, but I also get a sense of foreboding from Li Gang’s words, where he refers to a lot of pain that Jingrui will suffer in the future. Ack. I know that Mei Changsu has referred vaguely to a future time when Jingrui will play a key role again, but right now, I feel like poor Jingrui needs some time to heal.
I find Mei Changsu’s choice of a bow as Jingyan’s birthday gift to the Emperor an interesting one. It definitely pales in comparison to the gifts that the Crown Prince and Prince Yu have prepared. How intriguing, that Mei Changsu selects this gift, for precisely this reason. Even though Jingyan’s gift will look inferior, it will still be a gift fitting for his station and character, and it will also be a gift that will show the Emperor Jingyan’s sincerity. Nice one.
As for Banruo, how shrewd of her, to pick up on Tong Lu being a person of interest, when it comes to the Su Residence. She may not shine as brightly, when compared with Mei Changsu’s brilliance, but she definitely has some solid smarts about her. What a penetrating observation, that all of her spies who had left her network, either by dying or by running away, had something to do with Tong Lu.
In addition, Banruo’s analysis of Prince Yu’s situation, and Mei Changsu’s involvement in relation to Prince Yu, is spot-on as well.
I just feel bad for Tong Lu, because it looks like Fourth Sister’s strategy, is to appeal to Tong Lu’s sympathy, and I do feel like Tong Lu’s the kind sort, who would help someone in need. Will Tong Lu be sharp enough, to avoid falling for Fourth Sister’s ploy? 😬
Well, what a sudden falling out of favor, the Crown Prince experiences, this episode. Guess that’s what happens when you assume that your dad the Emperor won’t ever seek you out in your palace, and you drown your inferiority sorrows in drunken debauchery – while the entire rest of the state is still in mourning for your great-grandmother.
Honestly, I was rather surprised that the Emperor took as long to clue in as he did, given his highly suspicious nature. I’d thought that at the very first eunuch appearing overly nervous, the Emperor would have immediately stormed the Crown Prince’s palace, to see what was really going on.
I’m also rather surprised at how the Emperor seems genuinely distressed by his findings. I mean.. had he really thought that the Crown Prince was a paragon of virtue? I’d thought that the Crown Prince is quite obviously a weak loser type who is too pampered to have any kind of discipline, and I’d thought that the Crown Prince is a poor enough actor, that the Emperor would have seen through all his whiny claims to honorability?
And yet, the Emperor’s upset enough at the discovery, that he literally looks like he’s about to pass out from anger.
As a quick aside, my mom’s talked about this scene enough, that I recognized it on sight. Basically, my mom’s really impressed with Show’s attention to detail, because the Emperor had said that he’d wanted to come to these palace grounds to see the osmanthus flowers, and in this water feature thingy that he’s grabbing onto in this screenshot, there are actual osmanthus flowers floating in there. Just thought you guys might like that little tidbit!
Given the Emperor’s usually fiery sensibility, I did find it rather surprising that upon setting eyes on the drunk Crown Prince, the Emperor seems to deflate, where I’d expected him to grow more furious. Granted, his physical state is weakened from having just recovered from that bout of sickness, but he himself seems to think that this is because of his age. Or, does he simply not know what to do with this sniveling loser of a Crown Prince, anymore?
At any rate, the sealing off of the Eastern Palace, with no one allowed to enter or leave, is a Big Deal, and I did rather enjoy the flurry of excitement that this incident creates, with everyone trying to find out what exactly had happened, so that they can each leverage the situation to their own advantage.
Prince Yu, in particular, seems intent on taking advantage of the situation, which he even calls a gift from the heavens. He wastes no time seeking out Mei Changsu for a consultation, and interestingly, we don’t see how that conversations goes. All we see is that, afterwards, Prince Yu has an urgent meeting with his group of advisors, to figure out the best way forward. This does make me wonder if Prince Yu is losing trust in Mei Changsu, because, if the consultation had gone well, why would Prince Yu need to have this powwow with this group of advisors?
I also find it interesting that the person Commander Meng talks to first, with regard to this whole incident, isn’t Mei Changsu, but Jingyan. I’m guessing that Jingyan had summoned Commander Meng, to hear what he has to say about the decision to seal off the Eastern Palace, because it doesn’t seem likely that Commander Meng would seek out Jingyan instead of Mei Changsu.
That conversation in the secret chamber, where Fei Liu guilelessly answers Jingyan’s question about what he is to Mei Changsu, if Prince Yu is a poisonous snake, is so nail-bitingly exciting. Those two simple words – “water buffalo” – brings back a flood of memories for Jingyan, of Xiao Shu teasing him for being too stiff and inflexible, so much so that I half wonder if Jingyan’s going to confront Mei Changsu about it. Ahhh! The emotion of the moment is almost too much.
However, Mei Changsu’s brain works faster than a speeding bullet, it seems, because the moment he realizes the “leak” that’s occurred, he manages to come up with a cover story, where it’s Nihuang who had told him and Fei Liu about Jingyan’s nickname from his youth. Oh wow. That’s actually pretty plausible, even, and Jingyan seems to buy it.
Guh. To be honest, I feel torn about this. On the one hand, I understand Mei Changsu’s desire to keep his identity a secret from Jingyan; he doesn’t want to put Jingyan, or their plans, at risk. On the other hand, I really want to see these best friends reunited, so I can’t help gasping at every moment of potential discovery, for Jingyan. Not gonna lie; I’m more invested in the idea of these best friends reuniting, than in the idea of Mei Changsu getting justice for his family and the entire Chiyan Army. 😅
For now, I’m nicely content with the scene that we do get, of Mei Changsu and Jingyan clearly on the same wavelength, while poor ol’ Commander Meng is befuddled by their trains of thought, and requires everything to be spelled out for him.
There’s such a sense of synergy between Mei Changsu and Jingyan, as they take turns explaining to Commander Meng why it’s such a bad idea for him to keep pressing the Emperor for a formal edict to seal off the Eastern Palace, and why Commander Meng should be grateful to Gao Zhan, for interrupting him, each time he tried to mention it to the Emperor.
It’s true; it would do Commander Meng no good to back the Emperor into a corner, and with the Emperor’s suspicious nature always ready to cast doubt, it wouldn’t be a stretch for the Emperor to imagine that Commander Meng is on Prince Yu’s side, for wanting to corner the Crown Prince.
Of all people, Commander Meng really is the worst person to task with something as delicate as getting the travelogue book back from Jingyan, but I suppose Mei Changsu doesn’t have much of a choice, since Commander Meng is the only other person who knows that Jingyan’s borrowed the book. The way Commander Meng goes about asking for the book is super awkward, and if Jingyan were the more suspicious type, I’m sure this would raise more questions. As it is, though, Jingyan seems to buy Commander Meng’s story – for now.
It’s just like the Emperor, to decide to cancel the family banquet entirely, so that he won’t have to make a clear decision whether to punish or pardon the Crown Prince. That said, his chosen solution is pretty clever, honestly. Getting everyone to kneel and pray for Royal Great Gran does also send a strong message to the Crown Prince, that filial piety and the observance of mourning decorum is more important than partying.
How curious, that Consort Jing behaves so suspiciously with that travelogue, now that she’s read it. From the very moment that Jingyan brings it up, she looks distinctly uneasy. And, there’s the way she fingers it – and, at a particular moment, almost clutches it – that makes it look like she’s very perturbed, somehow.
Plus, she asks Jingyan whether the notes were personally written by Mei Changsu. It’s almost like she’s trying to verify something. Could she have picked up on the clue related to Lin Shu’s mother’s maiden name, and is now wondering whether Mei Changsu is actually Lin Shu..?
If Consort Jing does make the connection to Lin Shu, will she tell Jingyan, or will she keep it a secret? Ahhh! I need to know!