Open Thread: Nirvana In Fire Episodes 25, 26 & 27

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! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 25

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.

Episode 26

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? 😬

Episode 27

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!

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
91 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 days ago

Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Episode 25

  • Jun Niang/4th Sister – former member of Banruo’s spy network who retired, she sets a trap for Tong Lu

Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
Episode 25

  • Zhiluo Palace – home of Consort Jing
  • Hong Xiu Zhao – Banruo’s entertainment house and base for her network, also known as Crimson Sleeve House in the novel, known for its beautiful women

No new characters for E26 and E27.

Last edited 4 days ago by phl1rxd
beez
1 day ago

@melka – I thought the passage was very fitting. It is, after all, designed by The Divine Talent’s brain for a prince who will one day be emperor. It makes sense that it would be comfortable (decked out) for just such an occasion as this. I’m only surprised that MCS didn’t think to fill it with books for Prince Jing to pass the time. But then we wouldn’t have the plot device of the travelogue book getting into Consort Jing’s hands. 😆

beez
1 day ago

Test2

BE
BE
21 hours ago
Reply to  beez

@beez: test response. complete off topic musical aside on the hunch that Pedrito Calvo (talk about a yellow jacket!) just might be your kinda hombre (thank me later) or as the singer says “give it all your heart & move yourself.”

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
10 hours ago
Reply to  BE

OMG BE – this song brings back so many memories of good, good times!!

BE
BE
9 hours ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

A NIFty & a Los Van Van fan, phl1rxd?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 hours ago
Reply to  BE

Yes sir BE and proud of both. I blame it on being ♊. Mi ex (y todavia mi mejor amigo) es Puertorriqueño. I just had to get up a few minutes ago and dance while listening to your video. 💃FWIW I prefer Rubén Blades‘ Muévete.

beez
1 day ago

Test1

Trent
1 day ago

Alright, y’all, bear with me here. I was noodling around with the comment @CP made below about the conversation between MCS and Jingrui, and the translation, and that sent me off on a tangent to look up a couple of things that I should have looked into a lot sooner, during the earlier episodes.

One of those things was I got curious about the whole “Chiyan Army” that gets wiped out in the opening scene of our drama, and I went looking to find where that name comes from and what it means. And to my surprise and delight, I found that the “chi” is that very character that CP was mentioning from the translation, as meaning “pure, sincere.” As I noted in a follow-up comment, it can also mean “bare, naked.” BUT, it can also mean “red” (scarlet, crimson). (@BE: this is the character used in the Chinese name of the translator that you’ve mentioned before, Red Pine; the Chinese name is 赤松 “chi song”). This is a good example of how a single Chinese character can have different meanings. How to know which meaning is the correct one in a given case? Context, basically–what other characters it’s combined with, where it appears in a sentence, and so forth. (Also note, the common word for “red” is “hong” 红 , which is why 赤 -meaning-red is often translated as crimson or scarlet, to differentiate.

Anyway. So the Chiyan Army (赤焰军) can translated as the Army of the Crimson Flame (“yan” 焰 is flame), which you gotta admit, sounds pretty cool. I went wandering over to Baidu baike, which is like the Chinese Wikipedia, and there’s a whole article on the Chiyan Army! So for y’all’s edification, I dashed out a (very rough) translation of just the short section on the formation of the army (I don’t think it has any spoilers beyond what we know in the first half of the show):

The emperor gave special consent for the establishment of a new army, and conferred on Lin Xie complete authority to direct it, as well as to take the rank of a great general ([Emperor] Xiao Xuan thereafter once said “Of those whom I have appointed, all others fall by the wayside”). Once the army was formed, its imperially bestowed name was “Crimson Flame,” and it was also given the “Army of the Crimson Flame Flag” as the great banner of the entire host; its soldiers had silver armor with red underrobes, bearing at the neck a medal of fiery-striped silver, and at their wrists bracers of crimson flame (the former being engraved with each individual soldier’s name, that should they thereafter be found on the field of the fallen, it might be used to identify their remains, and they be honored by entry in the rolls of the departed). Due to the high skill of its soldiers, the excellence of its equipment, the abundance of its supplies, the martial habituation of its generals, and the royal trust it enjoyed, it became the most relied upon martial host since Xiao Xuan ascended to the throne, and was perennially posted to guard the northern borders of the empire.” 

I found this quite interesting as background on the army that is so important to the events of our drama. I still find it almost incomprehensible that the entire host of 70,000 men was wiped out; for comparison, Gettysburg was the most deadly battle of the American Civil War, and the upper estimate of casualties for the three days of that battle is around 51,000 men, of whom less than 10,000 were killed outright (rather than wounded, captured, or missing). So 70,000 killed is just utter carnage on a scale difficult to imagine.

Anyway, food for thought, it seemed to me.

manukajoe
manukajoe
1 day ago
Reply to  Trent

Although this is fiction, right?. For comparison this battle had a similar number of casualities: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaixia

Last edited 1 day ago by manukajoe
Trent
1 day ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Yes, so far as I’m aware this is all fictional, and how closely it might be patterned on historical analogues, I don’t know…

BE
BE
1 day ago
Reply to  Trent

In the An Lu Shan rebellion during the Late T’ang there were said to be a million casualties in the battlefields near the Great Wall. Of course, it was a far larger empire being contested, and the soldiers were largely conscripted. This is a Tu Fu poem from that period, about 200 years after the action in our drama:

Parting of an Aged Couple
 
[A scene from civil war–imitation and working from William Hung’s prose translations of Tu Fu]
 
Skirmishing rages forever on, every side
the capital city, no rest for an old soldier.
My sons, my grandsons dead in battle,
what should I care about myself anymore?
A few teeth remain in this old mouth
even if my bones’ marrow has turned to jelly.
Tossing cane aside, I depart the outer gates,
old comrades in arms grieving for my fate.
 
Once a man is conscripted, he is compelled
to scrape, salute, and follow orders.
My white haired, wrinkled wife weeps
by the roadside, winter, in threadbare clothing.
The last time we will be together, and I want to
tear my hair out seeing her shudder from the cold.
Though she knows I am setting out to die,
she pleads with me to eat well and stay healthy.
 
The ramparts of T’u-Men are all but impossible to overrun,
the ferry across Hsing-Yuan famous for its perils.
Our predicament now is greater than any other siege;
death will be slow to arrive and full of terror.
Reunions and partings are matters of human life
from which young and old are not excluded,
but when I think of when we were young and in love,
those days, it takes my breath away.
 
The entire world is on fire with war;
battles blaze up and down every hillside;
the stench of corpses stink up the copses,
human blood staining the landscape red.
No village safe, no place safer than another,
why hesitate any longer, it’s time to go.
Leaving the thatched hut of our long marriage,
I am broken up inside by this despair.
 
Tu Fu 759
 

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 hours ago
Reply to  BE

BE – that is a deeply moving poem. Especially this – but when I think of when we were young and in love, those days, it takes my breath away.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 hours ago
Reply to  Trent

This is amazing, thanks for pulling out this info on the Chiyan army, including its name! It adds layers of meaning to Mei Changsu praising Jingrui for his 赤心or pure heart and hoping he doesn’t lose it. He probably remembers his own disillusionment and devastation as Lin Shu’s from being betrayed and his whole family killed even though they had always done the right thing.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 hours ago
Reply to  Trent

Trent – this is just awesome. I am filing all of this for future reference! Just great Trent!

trackback

[…] | 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 | […]

beez
1 day ago

Whereas I was thinking (because this show probably has me over thinking 😉) that if it takes Commander Meng this long to get it even with MCS painstaking laying it out, then wouldn’t it be suspicious to Head Eunuch if Meng does thank him because Head Eunuch would know Meng didn’t come up with the thought on his own. 😆 (My poor Meng woobs.)

Leslie
1 day ago
Reply to  beez

😆 True that.

Ele Nash
1 day ago
Reply to  beez

@beez Aw, Meng woobs 🤣

beez
1 day ago

@BE – You haven’t given us details so I’ll assume it’s private but just know … best wishes and prayers.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 days ago

So much discussion about the nap! I think when I watched that scene I wondered briefly – are they gonna do the hanky panky? And then I thought naaah. Isn’t the Emperor too old? Now I’m like ewwwww old uncle sex haha. Thanks you guys.

beez
3 days ago

Meng = 😍😍😍

beez
3 days ago

@Elaine Phua – Commander Meng is so adorable ❤.

CP
CP
3 days ago

My 2 cents on the Ep. 26 pavilion scene:
The conversation between MCS and Jingrui is one of my all-time favourite scenes of dialogue in this drama. The Chinese is so beautifully written here, and the lines flow so well, yet so clearly convey the emotion in this scene; MCS’s sadness at the pain he had to cause Jingrui, and Jingrui’s disappointment yet forgiving and understanding heart.

As someone with a very amateur interest in languanges/translations and an obsession with trying to understand the nuances within, I took my own stab at translating this scene just for fun, and I found that it actually helped me to pinpoint why these sentences sounded so beautiful to me. I wasn’t originally planning on sharing, but this seemed like the kind of over-analysis our group here would enjoy, so humour me guys….
(Note: I used Viki’s subs as a reference point – see footnotes for context):

MCS: I used the cruelest method to reveal all the truths, and did not consider your feelings or our friendship.
JR: Yes. I was once deeply saddened by what you did. (1) But I am no longer a self-centered child. I understand now that insofar as we are human, we will have to make choices. (2) You chose what you thought was most important, and sacrificed me. (3) That was merely your choice. If I harbour resentment because I was not chosen, then wouldn’t there be too many unforgivable things in this world? After all, no one has the responsibility to put me first, or put me as the priority; no matter how much I wish they would, I cannot force them to.
MCS: Jing rui, as long as we have known each other, you have been sincere towards me (4), yet this is how I have treated you.
JR: I treated you this way because I was willing. If my sincerity is reciprocated, of course I will be glad. But if it is not, I still have no regrets.

(1)  Subs: There was a time where I was very upset because of what you did. – The Chinese line uses the phrase “曾经”(ceng jing), meaning “once”. I feel like this gives more a sense of past, and therefore gives more weight to the transformation in JR’s understanding/perspective on the situation which he explains in the subsequent lines.
(2)  Subs: I understand that all humans have to make a choice – The Chinese says “凡是人”(fan shi ren) (literally, “as long as we are human/insofar as we are human”) – splitting hairs on this translation here, but I love how it sounds in Chinese because I always feel like once you start referencing ideas about the human condition, all dialogue instantly seems more insightful, LOL. I also wanted to give more context to the word that translates to “choice” here – he uses the phrase “取舍”(qu she)– 取 means take, 舍 means to give up/sacrifice – so he is referring to a specific kind of choice to choose something while also sacrificing something, which is important in the next line.
(3)  Subs: You chose what you believed was important but relinquished me – The actual line is “你了你认为重要的东西 (you chose what you thought was important), 弃了我 (gave up/sacrificed me).” Slight difference in “relinquish” vs. “sacrifice”; relinquish implies letting go of something which is being forcefully pulled away from you, whereas sacrifice has more of an element of letting go despite some degree of cost/price to pay which more befits their situation. Note how the words 取/舍from the previous line are repeated here – this makes the flow from the last line smoother and sounds more pleasing to the ear as the idea comes full circle.
(4)  Subs: you have always been truthful to me – The word translated as “truthful” here is “赤诚” (chi cheng). This is a very interesting word with a somewhat layered meaning. “赤” is most commonly used in the phrase “赤子之心” (chi zi zhi xin)– this is used to describe a person who has a very pure & righteous heart that is not sullied/corrupted, and “诚” means honest/truthful. So “赤诚” means some combination of those things: truthful but in a pure/righteous way, hence the closest word I could think of is “sincere”

Trent
3 days ago
Reply to  CP

@CP This is good stuff! Thank you for drilling down on the conversation and some of the words and phrases.

Just tangentially, that character 赤 can also carry the nuance or meaning of “naked” or “bare.” So you see it showing up in the famous(?) phrase/name 赤脚医生 , “barefoot doctors,” who were the cadres and other individuals during the later Mao era (Cultural Revolution) that received basic medical training and were sent out to the countryside and rural areas to serve.

Of course, the nuance of “bare” fits fairly comfortably with the idea of “pure” or unadorned, so…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 hours ago
Reply to  Trent

Thanks Trent!!

BE
BE
2 days ago
Reply to  CP

Thanks. I love all this language stuff.

j3ffc
j3ffc
2 days ago
Reply to  CP

Thanks so much. It is easy to forget that we are reading only approximations of the real dialogue and this helps so much to appreciate things better.

Leslie
1 day ago
Reply to  CP

This is wonderful stuff, CP. Thank you.

For me, too, this scene is one of the most affecting in the series so far. Mei Changsu has said he is willing to do the dirty work to take down the regime, but here he is confronting what that means in actuality. A changed, innocence-lost Jangrui. Mei Changsu can apologize and be truly regretful, but he cannot make himself a better, or different, person here. And he knows it. I read a little desperation, or at least pain, on his face, directed internally, that the die is truly cast, and now he will have to live with who he is and will become in service to his quest.

Jangrui, in response to Mei Changsu’s apologies, takes the highest of high roads. He enacts his own personal code by choosing not to hate Mei Changsu, and deliver understanding instead. But he does not try to shield Mei Changsu from the effects of his choice. In effect, Jangrui says, you hurt me. I reflected. I understand this is about you, not me. I’ve moved on. God speed. Poignant each way, and adult respectful. I will be watching to see where this relationship goes as the story unfolds.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 hours ago
Reply to  CP

Great comment CP!! I appreciate the work you did.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 hours ago
Reply to  CP

Yes Li Gang described Jingrui as having 赤子之心which I understand as pure, virtuous, untainted heart。it is a high compliment but also extremely rare in a corrupt and cynical world.

beez
3 days ago

Especially since Prince Jing has to leave. ewww!

If the Emperor was really just going to “nap,” there’s no reason Prince Jing & Consort Jing can’t continue their visit

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
3 days ago

How long will it take before Prince Jing will figure out who Mei Changsu really is? I also think that Consort Jing will find out first.

I would like to find out more about the connection between Xia Jiang and Princess Xuanji. Any non-spoilery insights are greatly appreciated.

Commander Meng is a little slow on the uptake, so it is easy for us newbie viewers to identify with him. His less than subtle attempt to retrieve the book for MCS made me chuckle.

BE
BE
3 days ago

Dang K, need I say it once more? Seriously, what a champion. Could there have been a more lucid easy to follow review of these three episodes which seem to be finally setting the scene for whatever is coming next, after the whiplash of the previous six and the introduction of Xia Jiang (has anyone mentioned Wang Yong Quan also served as an Assistant Director for show?), the Dead Lead Hell Charmer, as in “oh ho you thought the Marquis was nasty?”

And turned away seemingly from that big picture to threads of smaller events pertaining to the court; Mother and Son Jing; will that stubborn young gurgler of a water buffalo Jing’s bromance ever be requited for his BFF Lin Shu; The King, Crown Prince Whine; and what’s Yu up to; with one big subplot–but how does that all fit in?–Banruo and the Fourth Sister (to which I can only say, poor effing Tong Lu–for those of us without the stuff of princes or Divine Talents, you know, the kinds of sweet hearted guys who deliver vegetables and have slight overbites, what in the world can those kinds of guys do about such a beautiful damsel in distress promising unforgettable favors (or as the case may wind up, delivering them? And, my brothers, it has ever been the same, how could you blame him? Which of you proof to refuse her?)

Along the lines of a similar theme but courtside, vis a vis, naptime. When Gao Zhan was looking for the Emperor before he found him sick in bed, what did any of you think of the aha leering giggle that came to his face? And in the interview with the Empress, what did you think Consort Yue was asking Consort Jing about vis a vis her “cooking skills”? Or the Empress, who appears in her cooler relations with Emperor likely glad that the old lecher has consorts, so she won’t have to deal with it anymore, what do you think she was taking so much delight with Yue about, telling her, hey, you can know the recipe girl, but if you do not know how to stir in the ingredients, well then…

Of course, it was skeezy to watch the Old Emp pat his couch for Yue to sit by his side, and does anyone wonder by now, but that Jing, the woman can just love the man to dreamless sleep, but he still finds Yue, well, might keep him awake? All the restraint of the actors in these scenes have such a lurid undercurrent to them.

But of course, the real scenes in these three that J3ffc correctly pointed out is what keeps us connected to show in these three episodes, which seemingly take us back to our sense of not really yet getting how all these things tie into show focus as was the case early on, was the twin meetings first with YuJin and Jinrui, our two most sympathetic characters throughout, and then echoing the wistful meeting at the Pavillion At the Edge of Town between MCS & Nihuang, the farewell between Jingrui and MCS, in which Jingrui takes his, “you thought I was a sweetheart before,” and raises it with “I am now not only a sweet heart but have the wisdom of saints, despite having had to swallow back swords to my throat, my heart, and my innards.” As he departs, we like Mei Chang Su want to call out to him: “Life is a b*itch, young son, but bless you, your pure heart is like the sun breaking through the clouds of this world. And may it always remain so.”

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – your comment made me laugh (overbite) and inspired me to go back to those episodes to see Gao Zhan giggle and to re-watch the ladies’ comments. LOL! Notice how the ladies hold their hands. The etiquette team hired for this drama did such a good job. Their finger placements and hand movements are fascinating to watch.

It is refreshing to see a drama that has a wide range of mature actors instead of a lot of idols. Actor Wang Yong Quan (Xia Jiang) is very versatile. I have seen him in a few dramas and he always stood out. He is actually in NIF2 and he plays the complete opposite type of character. Same for the actress who plays Xia Dong. In fact there are several NIF1 actors who have parts in NIF2. It threw me for a loop. If you have not seen NIF2 add it that ‘list that never ends’. LOL! Fangurl, as always, did such a good job on her NIF2 post!

BE
BE
2 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I am gonna have a period when I might be laid up for a month or a little longer in September/October, so I will probably wait till then to watch NIF II.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago

Stellar post Fangurl! Again, thank you so very much for picking this drama!

E25 – Thank goodness we get a bit of a break from all the action. I am exhausted and cried out after the last few episodes.

I love how Meng Zhi’s friendship gives MCS the freedom to actually just be himself. MCS gets to relax his charade, even for just a few minutes, to lounge and eat tangerines. That is until Prince Yu barges in. This is funny – in the novel MCS forcibly crams the travel guide into Meng Zhi’s hands as he pushes and shoves poor Meng Zhi into the hidden chamber to await the ‘awkward’ with Prince Jing. MCS whips around a second before Prince Yu walks in and…TA DA – “Instant Cool!”

At Consort Jing’s Zhiluo Palace – The Emperor is still mad over the prince fights and implies that if the knuckleheads [the two princes] give him a hard time he will take care of them. Really interesting note from the novel – another reason the Emperor is so mad is because the cicadas are out in full force and he cannot stand the noise. Picture all the terrified eunuchs out with long bamboo poles beating the cicadas in the trees.

Don’t we just love Prince Jing and Jingmom? Rather than get excited over a new position of power, they rejoice over being able to see each other at any time. I am so happy for them. In the novel guests began to arrive at Consort Jing’s bearing gifts trying to gain her favor not long after the Emperor left. Kinda like Twitter or Weibo, the Palace folks are quick.    

Palace fight!  The ladies put on a master class in PAB – Passive Aggressive Biotch-ness. The whole time Consort Jing is serene. From the novelThese two, enemies [Empress and Noble Consort Yue] since their first days in the palace, continued exchanging barbs as sharp as knives, their tongues like swords hidden behind simpering lips and murderous smiles. Source The actresses did such a good job here! Ugh – it is so not a good idea to have this many wives. Seriously!

Mister Thirteen (Mr. Shisan) lets MCS know that they are going to have to find another way to get all of opposition out of the picture. MCS is going to have to bring the defense onto the field.

Banruo mentions Hong Xiu Zhao. That is the name of her entertainment house known for its beautiful women. In the novel it is called Crimson Sleeve House. Not sure if one translates into another. It is located on Spiral Market Street where there were two other Entertainment houses. The novel states that she was owner in name only.

Banruo is pissed. She has found a way to get into the Su Household….No, No and No!  Ugh – she starts on one of her sisters Jun Niang also known as 4th Sister. Run away 4th sister –  Run away!  

So I must admit Fangurl that I totally missed that quick exchange about Princess Xuanji’s and her involvement with the affairs 13 years ago. Partly because this 4th sister arc gives me so much agita that I fast forwarded over most of it after watch 1. So I went in and found it almost word for word in the novel. That is wild I missed this but it makes perfect sense.

This scene with Prince Yu is one of my two favorite scenes with him. It is because it shows his real character – shallow, suspicious, selfish and insecure. Slick MCS! Always running mental circles around everybody and smacking them around while acting so ethereal. Prince Yu had plans to use the Zhuo family for shenanigans even after promising GP Liyang he would take care of them? Ugh!
I am with Fangurl – I think Prince Yu is gonna lose that loving feeling soon.     

Awkward…Poor Meng Zhi is stuck in the tunnel with Prince Jing (and forgotten, poor dear) and is forced to think of everything he is going to say before he says it which is actually quite painful for Meng Zhi.   

Poor Prince Jing does not understand the privileges he has just received because for most of his adult life he has been away, assigned to military tasks. He has spent more time away than at home. MCS is teaching him as much as he can, as fast as he can. Uh Oh – Jingy (Prince Jing) is going to borrow that travel guide…

Notice how sneaky Banruo drops a mention of an internal leak. Banruo mentions that she planted someone at General Secretariat Liu’s household as a concubine but she ran away. I am pretty sure there is a reference to Secretariat Liu Chen (he has a brother so not sure which Liu she is referring to) but we shall see. In the novel there was one more person that knew the list of Banruo’s spies and that was Prince Yu’s brother-in-law whom he trusted. Source

E25 Recap

  • Let us who live in the US take a meditative moment to reflect on the 2021 Brood X cicada batch, considered one of the largest of the 17-year cicada broods, and be very grateful that we will never get flogged to death by the Emperor for not hitting all of those cicadas off the trees.
  • I can’t with Banruo right now. I am eager to see how MCS deals with this…

DID YOU KNOW…

  • Fun Fact – did you know that Hu Ge is a big time cat person?  Check him out here with his furry friends, That is cuteness overload.
  • In the novel it says that Fourth Sister placed 4th on the Langya Hall list of beautiful women when she was younger
  • Novel – the name of the travel guide was Soaring over the Earth: A Chronicle’

———————————————————–
E26 – MCS is a nervous Nellie right now about that book because of one of his notes. A little on the name avoidance – (Viki subs) – MCS says Jingyan would not know his mother’s maiden name (I am thinking wouldn’t this be Xiao, the same as the Emperor as they were brother and sister and also Prince Jing’s as well?). This could be a case of bad subs or me not understanding the naming system. However, the novel says he altered his mother’s childhood name (inferred as a pet/nickname) and that makes more sense to me.

P is for Persistence and Pushy. Heading up the persistent pack is Jingrui’s step sister Princess Yue Wen Nian, who is intent on bringing her gege home. I am with you Fangurl, this poor dear is really a p-in-the-a. I personally think he should go but, if he does MCS has to get people over there to watch over the Grand Princess Liyang because she still carries “the pouch of secrets”. Someone really wants that pouch…

Banruo, Banruo, what to do, with you! We see the plan – get to MCS by getting to his main source of information. I just can’t go there with you sister. It is making me nauseous because little Tong Lu does not seem to have, shall we say, much experience with the opposite sex. Just look at his cute little face.  

Oh, the Darling Dynamic Duo are being parted. Who does not have a tissue right now? I love Yujin and Jingrui – the best of the besties. Novel note to think about – When Jingrui was young he greatly admired and looked at Lin Shu as a role model.

I think the rock from Prince Yu is magnificent even if it does not look like any letter or character to me. I have to laugh Fangurl – I actually tried to look this up and compare it to that rock to my endless frustration.

It is the Emperor’s birthday and MCS picks put a bow for his gift. Of course the two brats take no time making fun of his present. But we see what the Emperor really wants for his birthday heh? The next day…did Consort Yue rock the Emperor’s world and render him almost comatose? No wonder she was in that rank for so long. Is it really a case of old age and a little too much wine?

Ugh – I cannot look. Again, I have skipped this Tong Lu arc after my 1st watch. I have my hands over my eyes because I cannot go there.

E26 Recap

  • There were never two more better besties than Yujin and Jingrui and Lin Shu and Jingyan
  • My favorite horse in this drama is always ridden by Yujin and represents him in a way – a sweet brown with a blonde mane and tail. It just looks cheerful, like Yujin.

DID YOU KNOW…

  • The novel states that the Emperor’s birthday is the 30th day of the 8th month, or August 30th which makes him a Virgo and close enough to Leo to make me believe that this is actually his birthday.
  •  In the novel Prince Jing actually gave the Emperor a falcon. Which would you rather have, a bow or a falcon? 

———————————————————–
E27 – Halfway Mark!

Ding Yong Dai is a great, great actor.

The Emperor has his Kudzu soup. I personally found this amazing** (having lived down South for a few years) that I looked it up and sure enough, there is something called “Kudzu Root Soup” which is an herbal drink with its origin in traditional Chinese medicine and is intended for people having various mild illnesses, such as headache.

The Emperor decides to pay a visit to the Eastern Palace where the Crown Prince is misbehaving badly. A big thank you to Fangurl’s mom for her osmanthus flower observation. That is pretty darn awesome! I am filing this for future reference.

The Emperor gets a nasty surprise at the door. Poor Gao Zhan, who has had so much experience with the Emperor, is trying everything he knows to diffuse the situation which at this point is very bad.

Why didn’t the Emperor just barge in? It is because this was such a serious no-no (it was just 6 months since the Grand Empress Dowager had died and the mourning period is 3 years of no music and dancing.) I do not know about you but that is one tough rule. And for a Royal Prince blatantly ignoring these rules the ramifications were serious. It is a slap in the face to one of the country’s main tenets of filial piety and respect. Not only would the Crown Prince fall into ruin, but his entire household and the Royal Family would ‘lose face’ big time. Still, up to the point until the Emperor overheard the morals comment, he would have handled it quietly.  

Would the Emperor really have killed the CP? Well he has already done that once, so maybe? The novel helps here with explaining that he fell into an uncontrollable rage after he heard the Crown Prince talk about his morals but he stopped, and not knowing what to do [how to release that anger] he slashed the pillar with Meng Zhi’s sword.

Here is my personal opinion. Papa is pissed to hear the truth concerning his own morals and the cut is deep. I am of the opinion that when he stood at that front door with the sword, he stopped and thought that killing his son in this manner (as compared to how Prince Qi was killed) would lead to him with no way out or no excuse to being exposed as the bad guy.

If one of our children did something really, really terrible how many of us would be ready to pick up a knife or a gun to consider killing them. Would we be mad? Absolutely. Might they get a whack or two even at that age? Probably. But I do not think mad enough that we could kill our own child.

All the cases rocking the Court involving both his sons and his Ministers and their subsequent behaviors are piling up and proving too much for the Emperor to handle at his age. Yep folks, MCS is rocking his world and the Crown Prince is ’bout to go through some things.   

I really felt sorry for Meng Zhi here as he is between a rock and a hard place.

Prince Yu is freaking out quicker and more often these days and inadvertently causes one of my ‘favorite scenes’…Meng Zhi and Prince Jing are stuck in the tunnel and when asked who is with MCS Fei Liu says “Snake”. I brought this up in my DID YOU KNOW…notes from Episode 9. Fei Liu has stepped in it. MCS is a fast, really fast thinker (and a seriously prolific liar to Prince Jing). This is a great scene!  

Fangurl – I also really struggled with MCS’ need to keep Jingy in the dark versus letting him know who he really is. I feel it is an immense sacrifice on MCS’ part to to deny himself this relationship. It is also an immense sacrifice for MCS to go through 13 years of hard work to achieve his goal. It beings up a lot of questions doesn’t it? Ground for some real conversations on pro and con as we get further into the drama and learn more.

Meng Zhi does a really poor job of trying to the get the travelogue back from Prince Jing.

Really, can no one really say what they mean? Empress tries to trip up the Emperor but he has her number. Prince Jing get stuffed with cookies by his mother and it is really a heart-warming scene. Everybody take note how she handles that book.

E27 Recap

  • Gao Zhan and Meng Zhi probably have PTSD from that affair at the Eastern Palace
  • Meng Zhi’s awkward moments are great TV
  • Remember that Fei Liu cannot lie and cannot be taught to lie

 
DID YOU KNOW…

  • **Kudzu grows so fast in the southern United States that it can cover a car in a week or two (I have seen how fast it grows and it is nuts). I am glad the flowers make for a good soup. Someone should tell the folks who live in the South this fact so they can stop cursing this plant and start cooking it.
  • In the novel it is said that the Emperor had never in his life visited the Crown Prince unannounced. The Emperor suspected him and so went in cold. 
Ele Nash
1 day ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Fei Liu cannot lie? Ooh…

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
1 day ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Yes, Hong Xiu means Red Sleeve literally

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
10 hours ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Thanks so much Elaine! 💖

BE
BE
3 days ago

Will be back later, but my favorite line from the 3 eps:
“I hear Noble Consort Yue is a little unhappy.”

Oh and that bad, bad hizeh. Too much wine, too many women.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  BE

Ah BE – 孩子 – one of my favorite words!

BE
BE
3 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Hizeh? I bet if one did a word/vocabulary count on show, this would be the number 1 for usage, and is the only word I know for sure yet. It also, the way it is pronounced, sounds like a yiddish, or at the least German, word to me.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  BE

Yes BE- I bet you are right and we hear plenty of it throughout this drama, especially in that very important key scene. I have practiced saying this at home to my granddaughter’s hysterics. She keeps asking me if I am sneezing as she is laughing at me.

manukajoe
manukajoe
3 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

It’s really hard to explain how to pronounce it using English. Hai is easy, but zi has no equivalent that I can think of. “z” is like the “ds” in “buds”, and the “i” sounds like the “i” in “silly”. Hai-zi.

BE
BE
2 days ago
Reply to  manukajoe

I read an orthographic spelling of it as Hi-zi, but think you are correct in the sound being actually closer to hai-dzih. Vowel sounds are so irregular in English, especially vis a vis schwas, i(h) or e(h) are almost replaceable one for the other depending where in the English speaking world you live. But as a word I cannot escape the Germanic sound of it, particularly what you note as the i as in silly foreshortened as such vowel sound.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
10 hours ago
Reply to  BE

BE and Joe – the other most used word is 殿下 Diànxià or ‘Your Highness’ although to be honest I always hear a B in the beginning.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 hours ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Everyone calls the Emperor 陛下bi xia ie Your Majesty, except his sons call him 父皇fu huang meaning Father Emperor literally. And subjects call the princes 殿下dian xia ie Your Highness. Viki is inconsistent about terminology of Nihuang, earlier in the show she was called a Princess but later called Duchess. I think Duchess is more appropriate as she is called 郡主 Jun zhu. While Jun zhu can mean daughter of a king or daughter of crown Prince, in context of the show the actual daughters of monarchs are called 公主gong zhu. Eg Nian Nian from Southern Chu is called a gong zhu, and Liyang is called a Grand Princess 张公主zhang gongzhu. Maybe Nihuang’s Jun zhu title is because she is descended from part of the Royal family, maybe a cousin of the Emperor considering she is a direct great grand kid of the Grand Empress Dowager (who is the current Emperor’s grand ma, his ma passed already).

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 hours ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Thanks Elaine – I truly appreciate that clarification! So I was not mishearing – that was a b! You rock Elaine!

Last edited 8 hours ago by phl1rxd
Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
7 hours ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

You’re welcome! I think shows creators should issue a hierarchy chart it would help the subtitle work tremendously! When I first watched I thought Nihuang was a daughter of the Emperor, since he was being fatherly and arranging her marriage and her English subtitle was Princess. English is my dominant language so I relied a lot on the subtitles. It was only after many episodes and figuring from context eg Mu Qing didn’t appear with the other princes for the funeral and duh, all the princes are surname Xiao but he is Mu. Then I started to pay a bit more attention to what was being said. I would like this rewatch to improve my Chinese but I can’t seem to find Chinese subtitles on Viki!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
3 days ago

So hilarious when General Meng asked for the book back and said because he loves reading! Lol what a blatant lie!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Elaine – MCS and Meng Zhi have proven themselves to be proficient liars when addressing Prince Jing. MCS is much better at this of course. Watching Meng Zhi squirm is quite a scene. Ah Meng Zhi! You gotta love him.

Ele Nash
4 days ago

Oh, I hadn’t picked up that point of probable connection between Banruo (and the is-she-actually-dead Princess Xuanji) and the Big Bad Xia Jiang but that makes sense he went to the trouble of destroying the Chiyan Army for a reason, not just cos. And also, well, Banruo’s revenge is just as valid as Mei Changsu’s, right? Her people were decimated by the Chiyan Army and subjugated by the Emperor. I’d say, fair play to her. And also, Fourth Sister is very familiar. What’s she been in?!

My take on the Emperor’s reaction to Crown Prince’s behaviour was more that he saw himself reflected (er, literally in the water) and he maybe had a small revelation that he may not be quite the ace Emperor / man / father that he could be. He seemed kind of winded. Is he realising the next Emperor really shouldn’t be anything like him? Well then, hello super rule-abider and would never be so gauche as to play music, Prince Jing! That’s just my thought.

I totally read the ‘nap’ with Prince Jing’s mum as something far more active – and see from @manukajoe’s comment and replies I was not alone in that 😉 It actually made me feel ill, though. Ugh, the Emperor laying it about with all his consorts / whatnots. Serves him right he got poorly after… See, apart from the music, what did Crown Prince do so different, huh?

As for Jingrui, I think he did a good job of saying he understood whilst also retaining his hurt and upset. He absolutely doesn’t let MCS off the hook – and, frankly, nor should he. In no way did Mei Changsu create that scene so Jingrui could discover the truth gently. And Jingrui knows it. I’m still mad at MCS for the way he organised that lethal gathering 😑

Anyho, I want to see more of Nihuang but otherwise, I am entertained, have no clue where the story is heading (other than in some no doubt bittersweet / upsetting ending for all) and feel totally on Commander Meng’s wavelength. As in, confused and in need of someone to patiently explain things. Thanks, kfangurl! 😄

Natalia
Natalia
3 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ele, I think we’re all Commander Meng here!

j3ffc
j3ffc
3 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

Second that!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I third that!

Leslie
3 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Fourth that! I kept thinking, as Mei Changsu and Prince Jing guided Commander Meng to an understanding of why he should thank the head eunuch, “Well, color me Meng, then. What are they getting at?”

CP
CP
3 days ago
Reply to  Leslie

Your comment just reminded me of something funny I’ve been meaning to point out – Commander’s Meng is a (potentially unintentional…?) pun. His last name is 蒙 (Meng), which just happens to be a homonym with this word 萌 (meng) – which is an adjective to describe people who are confused, but in a very cute/almost childish way. (Think: the stereotypical tsundere ML’s of asian rom-com dramas who are cold on the outside but soft/clueless about romance on the inside). Definitely a fitting description of Commander “萌” !

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
10 hours ago
Reply to  CP

That is very interesting CP! I will be filing that for future reference.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 hours ago
Reply to  CP

Since we are going all geeky into the Chinese, thought I would share that 蒙is a surname but 蒙meng can also mean ignorance lol. Among other meanings including to cover up the truth etc.

j3ffc
j3ffc
3 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ele, I think you are spot on with your commentary, and I totally appreciate your calling out all of our characters on their bad behavior (even our heroes) and the good (even our villains). This escalating sense of moral ambiguity is elevating the drama.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

This a great comment Ele! I cracked up over the and the “is-she-actually-dead Princess Xuanji”. Yes revenge is a rotating door.

To be fair haha – the Emperor had something wrong with his feet (I think gout, but I would need to look again to be sure) which she was treating – so Consort Jing is more than just, you know.

melka
melka
1 day ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

I agree with you about the Emperor, I think he’s seeing his failures as a father, who has been far too permissive with the CP. (Seen so many other dramas where parental failure is a huge plot point/chance for mental meltdowns.) Then comparing CP to the strengths of the former CP and Prince Jing, his current choice of CP is so very pathetic, but then, what does that say about his judgment…

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
7 hours ago
Reply to  melka

Parental regret is potentially so powerful. In fact any kind of regret. It can be quite stunning in a moment to see that your decisions have accumulated over the years to lead you to where you are today. Path dependency – a scary concept. Emperor thought he was doing his best but it was read as unloving and calculating by his sons. It is also hitting me that my decisions over the years do add up to consequences bearing fruit today. Eg overweight, fatigue. Being a virtuous person is not easy and is a daily decision in many small moments.

Natalia
Natalia
4 days ago

I am currently on holidays, so I actually had to watch some parts of these episodes on the beach, just to be able to participate here!! So there were at least a couple of things that I missed, I think.

What I didn’t miss, is that the Jing family, mother and son, are certainly going up places, both of them. And I got this feeling in those episodes that Master Eunuch seems to like and favour them? Actually, I am beginning to like this gentleman. He seems very clever and capable of handling the Emperor, which must not be an easy feat. Also, as I said, I do feel that he prefers Prince Jing (and his mother). Like, even in the last episode, before the Crown Prince melt down, he suggests to the Emperor to take a stroll in Consort Jing’s palace. Why is that, I don’t know. Is it because he just sees that the Jings are the best people around, or does he have an agenda?

I agree with you K, Prince Yu is bound to start mistrusting MCS. He is a clever man, after all. And as Banruo pointed out, since MCS showed up, the Crown Prince has suffered big setbacks, but Yu did not benefit from them, and he will eventually start finding this strange.

Speaking of Banruo, she’s definitely my favourite villain and, to be honest, this whole show (and novel, I guess) could have been filmed in a way that she would be the heroine. I mean, take a look at this plot: a kingdom is decimated, its Princess and a few acolytes survive and set up a whole secret spy organization in order to avenge the death of their loved ones. Then said Princess passes (by the way, did she pass? There were so many instances in those episodes of people saying “had she been alive…”, that I started wondering if she’s really dead) and her work is continued by a clever and beautiful young woman who silently and efficiently manages to become right hand to the main contender to the throne with her only aim being to finally take revenge on the Evil Empire that killed her people. Doesn’t it sound like a real nice plot for a show? What is more, a show with a woman lead? I would certainly watch it!

Anyway, what I didn’t get and I only sort of understood by the review here: are Banruo and Xia Jiang working for the same cause?

The travelogue hint, honestly, I didn’t get it and I still don’t get it. It’s one of those things in this show that I decide to simply accept as plot elements without really understanding them (like, as I mentioned before, the fact that somehow MCS face is completely altered without plastic surgery).

My take on the Emperor’s reaction regarding the Crown Prince and the fact that he was not respecting mourning for Grandma 6 months after her death (time sure flies by in this show) is that a) he does love him after all (he was worried that he looked thinner) so is disappointed b) he realises that the Prince is worthless but does not know what to do, because the obvious choice – deposing him and promoting Prince Yu is not to his liking because, well, Prince Yu is a much more efficient and shrewd person and the Emperor feels threatened by him. So I guess he doesn’t know what to do and eventually this can only benefit Jing, because the Emperor will most likely favour him even more in order to recreate a balance of power in the palace.

And, my last remark: Jingrui. He’s matured, yes. But personally I found his demeanor towards MCS somehow passive agressive. Can’t say I cared for that… Sorry!

J3ffc
J3ffc
3 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

Love your suggestion about Banruo! I think she’s my favorite villain as well and would definitely watch that show.

Isn’t the point of the travelogue that, because of the way MCS abbreviates his mother’s name, someone might get tipped off as to his real identify if they notice?

Natalia
Natalia
3 days ago
Reply to  J3ffc

I think yes, they did say something about abbreviations and MCS’ mother, and the lovely person doing the subtitles on Viki did insert an explanatory comment, but I guess I’ll do a Meng here (as in a very perplexed expression) and admit I didn’t really grasp what they meant by it. No worries though, I’m pretty sure Consort Jing will figure it out, although I do not think she will tell her son. She’s too clever and knows her son too well for that.

manukajoe
manukajoe
3 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

MCS said one of the places in the book has the same name as his mother’s maiden name, so when he writes it he omits a couple of strokes to differentiate it from his mother’s name. MCS hoped Prince Jing would not be familiar with his mother’s maiden name. But Consort Jing might be. It’s quite easy for a Chinese person’s name to be the same as a place name. E.g. Xia Jiang sounds like a river somewhere.

Last edited 3 days ago by manukajoe
phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Thanks Joe!

Trent
3 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

@Natalia manukajoe has the answer to this, but just to fill in a few more details (because I can’t help myself):

Chinese personal names are made up of one or two characters (each character is a single syllable when spoken out loud). There isn’t a special pool of “name” characters that is exclusive to names; characters for names are drawn from the general pool of characters used for the written language as a whole (certain characters are more likely to show up in names, to be sure).

Also, traditional, Confucian Chinese cultural was very into the concept of filial piety (that is, the respect, even veneration, of elders and ancestors) (we see this in NIF, for example, with the current extended mourning period for the grand dowager empress). One concrete way (among many) that filial piety was demonstrated was a taboo on writing out the personal names of one’s own parents. But then you run into the situation where the character(s) making up your mother or father’s name shows up in a regular sentence. In the context of a normal sentence, it’s not their name, but it’s still the same character as in their name, and so a filial son/daughter won’t write it out.

What to do? The work-around is to alter the character by leaving out a couple of strokes–this allows the literate reader to still know what character is meant, without actually reproducing the full character.

Let’s take a made-up but plausible example. A fairly common woman’s name in Chinese is Meiling, which could be composed of the characters: 梅玲 . The first character means “plum (blossom)”, while the second is onomatopoeic for “tinkling jade ornaments.” So let’s say MCS’s mother’s personal name is Meiling (it’s not, but just for our hypothetical). Now, MCS is going through his travelogue book, happily annotating away in the margins, and he hits a section on the beautiful plum trees in Suzhou, and he wants to write “Ah, yes, the plum blossoms in spring are particularly fine at this pond!” What to do?! Well, he just writes 梅, but he doesn’t write the whole character, he leaves 2-3 of the brush strokes out.

Then, anyone who comes along and sees it will know, given the context, that of course that’s supposed to be a 梅, it’s just missing a couple strokes for some reason. The incurious reader will think no more of it, and continue reading. The somewhat curious reader might think, hmm, our annotator must have either gotten lazy there, or else had a mother with that character in her name.

Our really sharp reader, however (think Consort Jing, here), will look at that, be reminded of the tragic case of the royal daughter whose family was accused of treason and who perished a decade or so ago, and whose personal name happened to have that character in it (which she knows from personal knowledge/experience), and then go to confirm that the annotator was, in fact, MCS. At which point, 2+2 has been added together, and probably equals 4 in Consort Jing’s mind, i.e. she now knows MCS = Lin Shu (probably, to a reasonable degree of certainty).

I hope that explanation wasn’t too confusing?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
3 days ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – thank you so much for this explanation. It has cleared up a lot of confusion I had with this issue. I really appreciate the time you put into this to help us understand! BTW – your last paragraph rocks the house. Excellent analysis right there.

Natalia
Natalia
3 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Trent, manukajoe, thanks for taking the time and trouble to clarify this for me. It is a privilege to watch this show with all you guys.

j3ffc
j3ffc
3 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Trent: this is awesome and fascinating…thanks. Never let it be said that one can’t learn anything watching dramas (at least when accompanied by The Kfangirl Verdict)!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
3 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

Re Grand Eunuch Gao Zhan, I don’t disagree, I think he has a streak of fairness in him and we are starting to see little tiny hints of him reminding the Emperor of Concubine Jing and Princess Jing’s existence. In a very early episode remember Prince Jing was all dusty from travelling back to the capital from some war campaign and then was kept waiting outside the Palace to be summoned by the Emperor. It was Gao Zhan who reminded the Emperor that Prince Jing was still waiting, after everyone had forgotten.

j3ffc
j3ffc
4 days ago

So friends, we are halfway through, and as if I were addressing the Emperor, I don’t dare to offer a perspective, but will try to do so anyway.

From the first minute, it was extremely clear that this was going to be a very Smart show, a perspective that was amplified by every episode since and by our community commentary. But what I have struggled to find in my first watch has been wherein lies the heart of our story. Intellectually, it’s easy to see: Mei Changsu (The Man with a Thousand Names and At Least Two Faces) and everyone he cared about was egregiously wronged in the past and nearly everyone in the show was involved one way or another. But in the watching, I’ve not felt emotionally engaged…until this week. And I’ve been trying to figure out why.

If there was a scene that should have done it, it would have been the very unhappy un-birthday party for Jingrui, but to be honest, the most salient feeling I had throughout that highly eventful episode was a combination of confusion and vertigo. Who was who? They did ….WHAT? And although numerous llves were being torn apart it was still more of an intellectual experience than an emotional one. So I’m reading all of the commentary here – which is of such a high quality that I can only shake my head in awe – and I get that I’m supposed to feel awful for everybody, but somehow I don’t. 

But that changed this week, and it was in perhaps one of the simplest, most understated scenes of the whole drama: the interview between Jangrui, about to go to Southern Chu, with Mei Changsu. We knew how heartbroken he was, but here we see it in action and more than that, we see it in sharp relief to his incredible sense of decency and honor. So why do I find myself misting up here and nowhere else until now? I mean, I like many of the characters (and know that some I cherish will never see episode 54) but what has a been missing.

I think it’s this: with few exceptions (actually, I can’t think of any right now) the horrific events of this show have been almost exclusively in the past, and their details doled out to us in the most miserly, careful fashion – with the promise that All Will Be Revealed. But, to me, the evident pain and complex emotions of Jangrui, in the here and now, were so much more compelling (although I understand his issues are dwarfed by the woes of, literally, thousands, including many of our key protagonists). 

I hope, and expect, that these threads will converge going forward and that this show will not only intrigue the brain but also touch my heart as it has so many of yours.

manukajoe
manukajoe
4 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I’m the same, the emotional connection so far has been in a couple of side branches, the relationships between MCS and Nihuang, and the story of Xia Dong.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

This is a beautiful comment j3ffc.

j3ffc
j3ffc
3 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Coming from you that is high praise indeed, phl1rxd. 🙏

BE
BE
3 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Well, up to now, the most powerful feelings we have in the immediate present have been focused on the heartbreaking imposed distance upon Nihuang for MCS. The Jinrui tragedy has played out before us in real time. We do see with Mei Chang Su from his facial responses how he is haunted with particular people, Jing and Xia Dong, and of course, knowing Xia Dong’s backstory, the revelation of how she was betrayed hits home.
While it seems somewhat cerebral, however, arriving from dream like battle scenes from the past, it never leaves my understanding, that MCS came back from the dead, utterly changed, and physically diminished to the point of carrying some fatal ailment from which he has little time left him, all of his people in the tens of thousands killed, left in exile, and come back to wreak justice on the perpetrators of his calamities, after spending a decade in planning to achieve this goal. Or that the first of those perpetrators the comes into our full view, is the Marquis, who has spent an even longer time plotting out his villainy. MCS may be really smart, but there it is, he even has to send the love his life away, for a larger purpose imposed upon him by the fcuk of history, and bringing down the Marquis, with all the upheaval that ensued, still remains for me up to this point the most emotional set of scenes so far.

CP
CP
3 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I’m a massive fan of this drama (as much as most everyone else on here, of the rewatched-it-7x-and-counting variety), but to be perfectly honest, I felt the same way as you did upon first watch. In fact, I didn’t feel any emotional response until the penultimate episode (yes… major climax ep. 53 – I’m sure everyone who’s watched before likely knows the scene I’m thinking of), but on my subsequent rewatches the emotion seemed to hit a little deeper everytime. LOL I think my poor brain was too busy trying to understand what was going on intellectually that it didn’t have time to process emotionally the first go-around, but this was definitely a show that grew on me the more I watched it, so keep at it friend!

j3ffc
j3ffc
2 days ago
Reply to  CP

Will do, CP! Fortunately, the intellectual enjoyment factor is very high and keeping up my interest, bolstered by the background and commentary here in the group watch.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
7 hours ago
Reply to  j3ffc

That’s interesting, in my first watch I was all in rooting for Mei Changsu as the main protagonist. This watch, along with the group comments, have me noticing more the collateral damage. Yes he has won victories/vengeance for Tong Lu and the twins and others hurt by the corrupt ministers. But his plots also lead to dozens of soldiers being killed eg in the Xie Yu battle, and relationships broken, as with Jingrui and his family. (and Xie Qi!). I’m also noticing his cold and ruthless side more this time.

manukajoe
manukajoe
2 hours ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Yeah I’m not that warm on MCS too. But many of his buddies are lovely.

Trent
4 days ago

After the fireworks of the last 3 episode arc, I have to say I really enjoyed the more reflective pace and sense of regrouping here.

And I have to admit that I was as invested in the whole very low-key cliffhanger of whether Jingyu would manage to figure out the whole travelogue puzzle and solve the hidden mystery (that he doesn’t realize is a mystery yet) of MCS’s identity. In fact, I was enough invested that I skipped ahead a little ways into the next episode, for the first time in this watch! I am pretty firmly convinced that Consort Jing has in fact figured out MCS’s identity from the travelogue, and is (so far, at least) refraining from cluing Jingyu in. Will he find out soon, or is he fated to not know for some time yet? Argh, pins and needles here!!

manukajoe
manukajoe
4 days ago

Thank you for your analysis as ever! I liked these 3 episodes quite a bit.

Ep 25 When Consort Jing invites the Emperor to stay for a nap, is she euphemistically offering her body to him? I guess so. Ha ha I loved how catty the Empress and Consort Yue were to each other!

Ep 26 It’s cute how Banruo always refers to herself in third person. It doesn’t come through in the subtitles.

Eunuch Gao “Your majesty still bears the strength of a young man” ha ha ha ha 😀

See the cute little cups they are toasting the Emperor with, have a little flap so their nostrils are not exposed when toasting!

The secret passageway seems to me to be overused and not really believeable. It’s so huge for one thing!

The secret identity of MCS also seems a bit hard to sustain, but a lot of dramas use this kind of secret (or amnesia) as a plot point, so I can’t really complain.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 days ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Joe – For what it’s worth, I always thought the same thing about the ‘nap’.

Natalia
Natalia
4 days ago
Reply to  manukajoe

I just loved the scene between the Empress and Noble Consort Yu too!
And I agree with you, that secret passageway doesn’t look like it.
As to the secret identity of MCS, I guess that if you are certain that someone has died and another person that kind of reminds you of him but looks completely different comes around you don’t immediately think “so he didn’t die then”. I think that is the thing here, MCS does not physically resemble his old self any more at all, and this is why his secret identity is sustained so far. To be honest, I don’t get how this is possible (without plastic surgery), but I have decided to roll with it…

melka
melka
1 day ago
Reply to  manukajoe

What? You mean secret passages don’t usually have clean mats for sitting, a table, a low screen to create a neat backsplash along the wall, arm rests to lean on, and a tidy tea set for entertaining?

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 day ago
Reply to  melka

I put a little wine cabinet and some nice rocking chairs into mine.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 hours ago
Reply to  melka

Hahaha!