Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Dontcha love this screenshot of Mei Changsu and Jingyan working together, deep in concentration, at the same table?? They are so in sync; I love it. 🤩
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question.
We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
This doesn’t feel like a very exciting episode, but it does feel like we get several key developments which are important to our story.
First of all, it does feel like Consort Jing might be on to Mei Changsu’s real identity as Lin Shu, judging from how emotional she gets while telling Jingyan to treat Mei Changsu well, and from how she keeps sending those snack baskets over to Mei Changsu.
The impression I get, is that Consort Jing’s sending those snack baskets to Jingyan with greater frequency than before, but this is only my assumption, since Zhan Ying only remarks that Consort Jing makes it a point to always send a basket for Mei Changsu as well.
And, even though he accepts his mother’s excuse that she’s growing old and that’s why she’s harping on the same things without realizing it, Jingyan is suspicious enough, that there is more to this than meets the eye, that he spends days poring over the travelogue, and transcribing the notes that Mei Changsu’s written, in an attempt to decipher the secret, but to no avail.
I guess Jingyan’s not going to find out Mei Changsu’s identity just yet.
It isn’t long before Jingyan gets busy and has no more time to puzzle over this, with his promotion to Noble Prince of the Third Rank, which comes with fancy new robes, a gold seal, and a five-pearl crown.
Ahh. So this is what all that talk about awarding pearls was about, in our early episodes. Those pearls aren’t just any old pearls; those pearls represent the rank of the prince in question. No wonder Prince Yu being awarded extra pearls at the beginning of our story had been a big deal.
Prince Yu does get all excited about pearls this time too, but this time, he’s very upset at Jingyan being the one to receive those pearls.
Mei Changsu’s logic in trying to calm Prince Yu down – that the Emperor’s just trying to maintain balance in the court, while preparing to depose the Crown Prince – does sound quite tenable, even though Prince Yu doesn’t seem to buy it very much.
I’m impressed that Mei Changsu’s even able to come up with a spin on this, that would make the situation appear favorable to Prince Yu. He really is a consummate spin doctor, ha.
This episode, I rather like the idea that Jingyan doesn’t need to actively recruit people to be on his side, in his quest for the throne; that once he gains momentum in his quest, people will naturally come to be on his side.
First, there’s the conversation between Jingyan and Consort Jing, where they discuss why Mei Changsu had not agreed to recruit Gao Zhan to be on their side.
I do find the tangent that Consort Jing goes on, quite meaningful, in that she points out to Jingyan that Mei Changsu’s other, unspoken reason for not recruiting Gao Zhan to be in their camp, is to avoid implicating Consort Jing, which he knows Jingyan would be unwilling to do.
With Consort Jing consistently speaking up for Mei Changsu in front of Jingyan, I’m more convinced than ever, that she actually knows his identity, and is simply keeping quiet about it.
The other instance that the idea that people will naturally come to be on Jingyan’s side, is during Zhan Ying’s conversation with Jingyan. I like that we get to hear how Jingyan’s men have evolved and grown over time, and have naturally become more motivated to do greater and more meaningful things, as Jingyan himself has grown in credibility and standing.
It seems that everyone’s sitting up and taking notice of Jingyan, such that even the rumors that the palace maids bring back to the Empress, are all about how impressive Jingyan is, and how there’s basically not much difference between him and Prince Yu.
Of particular interest, is the tidbit that, because of the debate that Prince Yu had initiated in an earlier episode, it’s now been established clearly, that since the Crown Prince is born of a concubine, and there is no difference in standing between him and Prince Yu, therefore all princes born of concubines have the same birth right.
Ohhh. Had Mei Changsu prompted the idea for the debate, and then supported it, with the thought in mind, that the conclusion of the debate would benefit Jingyan in the long term? If so, wow. I’m really impressed by how farsighted he is, in his strategizing.
In the meantime, I’m really worried about Tong Lu. Fourth Sister seems to have snagged his heart with just a few choice sentences, delivered with fake breathy earnestness, topped with an artful fall into his arms.
Ack. Poor innocent Tong Lu. I feel like he’s about to be eaten by wolves. I can’t look. 🙈
It’s significant that the Emperor summons Jingyan alongside Prince Yu, when he wants to discuss the drought situation, and the disaster relief needed.
What a terrible – though unsurprising – reveal we get via Shen Zhui’s visit to Jingyan’s manor, that the Crown Prince and Prince Yu have both been engaging in corruption around the relief rations, for years, such that the people who are actually in need only get a fraction of what the Court dispatches.
Ugh. They really don’t care about the common folk that they are supposed to be caring for.
I really like the case that Jingyan makes for volunteering himself for the job; it shows wisdom and foresight, and also, a willingness to get out there and get his hands dirty.
It’s too bad that Prince Yu is so wily that he manages to nudge the Emperor into choosing him for the task, by fake-volunteering his own assets as disaster relief, while the Emperor makes up his mind about whom he wants to assign the overseeing of the disaster relief.
Dang. Has Prince Yu won this round, then?
Again, this feels like a pretty muted episode, even though there are things that are shifting in our drama world. Of course, given how Show rolls, this is more likely to be the lull before the storm, rather than a simple case of Show not having a great deal to serve up.
I’m impressed with how Jingyan looks genuinely regretful about not managing to convince the Emperor of his suitability for the disaster relief task.
The way he apologizes to Shen Zhui feels very sincere, to me. I’m surprised by Shen Zhui’s remark about wishing a lightning bolt to hit Prince Yu on the head, because that’s so out of character, for him to speak out of line like this. But, I rationalize that perhaps this is to show us how comfortable he feels with Jingyan.
It seems that Mei Changsu’s response plan, is part serendipity and part strategy, given that the Jiangzuo Alliance just happened to have hijacked gifts that were on their way to Prince Yu, and the sender of those gifts just happened to have been the Mayor of Yuezhou, which is one of the disaster areas due to receive disaster relief.
I must say, Mei Changsu is shrewd to decide to use the power of public opinion in aid of their case, since he’s probably correct in his guess that the Emperor is simply pretending not to know that Prince Yu has been receiving gifts.
How smart, to spread rumors about the gifts, to the people of Yuezhou! Given that Yuezhou is suffering from a drought, it’s all the more unacceptable that the Mayor would draw on already severely limited resources, in order to send gifts to Prince Yu.
I’m happy that this results in the Emperor being extremely displeased with Prince Yu, and reassigning the disaster relief management to Jingyan.
Muahaha. It pleases me that Prince Yu’s sly scheme to force the Emperor’s hand ultimately fails, and fails hard. It also pleases me to see that Cai Quan really has no qualms about rebutting Prince Yu, in front of the Emperor.
He really doesn’t bother to give Prince Yu any “face” and Prince Yu’s frustration at everything that Cai Quan does, is so great to see.
This must be a huge blow to Prince Yu, considering how he’s still drunk at home, even after Jingyan’s been gone for 2 weeks, to oversee the administration of the disaster relief.
I do wonder if Prince Yu would have continued to wallow like this, if Banruo hadn’t purposefully provoked him with the strong suggestion that it is Jingyan and not Prince Yu, who has the assistance of the Divine Talent.
I’m surprised that despite his drunk state, Prince Yu is able to think clearly enough, to recognize that:
1, Banruo’s true intention in provoking him with this idea, is so that Prince Yu would use his resources to take down Mei Changsu and the Jiangzuo Alliance, which, to Banruo, would serve as revenge for Mei Changsu having weakened Hong Xiu Zhao by removing so many of her spies; and
2, Removing Mei Changsu won’t actually solve the problem, because Jingyan does have merit of his own.
How worrying, that Prince Yu’s new target, is to get rid of Jingyan himself. And how evil-shrewd he is, to think of using the treason case of Prince Qi and the Chiyan Army.
That could potentially hurt Jingyan quite a bit, in terms of favor with the Emperor.
I do wonder whether Prince Yu is out for Jingyan’s blood, though. If he’s as cruel as the Emperor – which is what others like Marquis Yan say of him – then it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that perhaps Prince Yu is desperate enough to get rid of Jingyan’s shadow, that he’d have him killed. Yikes.
And, given how Mei Changsu’s showing signs of poorer health than usual this episode, I have a nagging feeling that Mei Changsu might not be strong enough to give Jingyan advice when he most needs it – when Prince Yu makes his move to attack him. Double yikes. 😬
Banruo is very shrewd to point out that Xia Jiang, having been majorly involved in the treason case of Prince Qi and the Chiyan Army, would never want to see Jingyan take the throne, since Jingyan himself has never accepted the verdict on the case.
This does make a plausible case, that Xia Jiang might be willing to work with Prince Yu, to take down Jingyan.
Plus, there’s that key tidbit of information that Banruo drops, that her teacher, Princess Xuanji of the Hua Tribe, had been an old friend of Xia Jiang’s.
Hrmm.. We have been looking for a connection between Xia Jiang and Princess Xuanji, since we found out that Princess Xuanji had plotted to destroy the Chiyan Army. I’m curious to know more about this old friendship.
Also, Xia Jiang’s shady side is already starting to show, what with him sending an assassin to try to kill Liyang for Xie Yu’s incriminating letter that she still carries. The gall, to attempt to murder royalty! That already tells us about the kind of daring that Xia Jiang has. 😳
It really does seem that Consort Jing knows about Mei Changsu’s identity, and is choosing to keep it a secret.
How perceptive of Mei Changsu, to figure this out, with the circumstantial evidence that he manages to gather, that, 1, the boxes of snacks delivered to him and Jingyan are identical, 2, Consort Jing hasn’t included any hazelnut pastries despite them being Jingyan’s favorite, and 3, she knows he is extremely allergic to hazelnuts.
Wow, when he puts it that way, it’s a pretty persuasive case, isn’t it?
After all Consort Jing dotes on Jingyan, and used to make hazelnut pastries for him as a matter of habit.
I’d like to know how Fourth Sister managed to pass the Jiangzuo Alliance background check. After all, the Alliance does give me the impression that it’s very thorough?
It seems that she’s had a whole new identity created, with character references all sorted, to be able to pass that check. I bet Junniang isn’t even her real name. Gah.
But now Tong Lu’s looking so happy and relieved to hear that his beloved Junniang isn’t someone he needs to be suspicious of, and it looks as if he’s off to serve up whatever’s left of his heart to her, on a platter. Ah, I can’t look. 🙈
I’m also very curious to know why Mei Changsu is seeking out Marquis Yan. What special favor or mission does this involve? And why is it so important, that Mei Changsu has to go in person to see Marquis Yan? This feels potentially momentous.
Once again, I feel like this episode is shifting things into place, for Something Bigger. It’s not that Stuff doesn’t happen; we do get several developments that feel quite key to our story.
It’s just.. these feel like they are but supporting arcs, there only to pave the way for bigger arcs to come, that are likely to blow our minds, the way Show blew our minds with Jingrui’s birthday banquet.
I quite enjoyed watching Marquis Yan’s surprise, at the realization that Mei Changsu is there, not to ask him to help Prince Yu, but to assist Prince Jing. It’s a narrative-tilting piece of information, and I like the detail, that Marquis Yan needs a Moment, to reshuffle the various pieces of information in his brain.
It’s safe to say that this changes everything; even the way Marquis Yan looks at Mei Changsu is completely different, henceforth. Not only is he a lot less guarded, there’s a fresh sense of respect in his eyes, which is really quite refreshing to see.
One of the biggest highlights of the scene, for me, is how Marquis Yan not only thinks to have Yujin present, but makes it a point to speak with Yujin, upon making the decision to accept Mei Changsu’s request to support Prince Jing.
This is a huge change, for the man who used to be so reclusive that he’d hardly ever see his own son. Now, it feels like Marquis Yan has taken Yujin into his confidence, and Yujin’s open-hearted response is utterly moving.
When Marquis Yan says that if things go wrong, Yujin would be “implicated,” he’s basically saying that Yujin might have to die with him, if he’s convicted of treason.
The fact that Yujin doesn’t even hesitate to pledge his loyalty to his father, even under such circumstances, is so moving, to me. He trusts his father implicitly, to the extent of laying down his life. Tear. I feel like this father and son pair have come such a long way, from the time that we first met them.
The other thing I find interesting about the scene, is how Marquis Yan almost hits the nail on the head, when he asks Mei Changsu if he’d been from Prince Qi’s household.
What Marquis Yan says is true; there has to be a personal reason for someone such as Mei Changsu to choose to support Prince Jing in his quest for the throne.
The apparent lack of personal connection – rather than Marquis Yan being unable to make a sound judgment – is the reason that Marquis Yan had been so convinced before, that Mei Changsu was on Prince Yu’s side.
In fact, Marquis Yan’s response to Mei Changsu’s initial claim, that he’s in this for fame and power, is spot-on:
“I may have only met you only on two occasions, but from what I can tell, fame and power is too paltry, it is not your style.” … “Jiangzuo Alliance has its place in the pugilist world; Chief Mei, you have your own pride.
The lure of fame and power, the forces of Imperial Power, you would naturally dismiss them. I thought it over, the only possible reason is because of ties in the past.”
You’re so close, Marquis Yan!
Mei Changsu’s answer – “I was a youth who admired Prince Qi, and wanted to support him. That motivation has not changed, hence why you have the Mei Changsu of today” – is an approximation of the truth, and it feels significant, that this is the closest to the truth that Mei Changsu’s revealed, to someone who’s not from his existing inner circle.
While Mei Changsu gains an ally in Marquis Yan, Prince Yu busies himself with forming an alliance with Xia Jiang.
This episode is the first proper look we’re getting at Xia Jiang in his villain persona, and I must say, he cuts a pretty intimidating figure. For one thing, Wang Yongquan, who plays Xia Jiang, has a ton of screen presence.
From the minute Xia Jiang appears at that summer palace, he commands the room, even though he’s keeping an audience with royalty.
For another, Xia Jiang’s plan to take down Prince Jing is pretty shrewd. Even though he’s sworn off getting involved in faction fights, he seems to have a pretty spot-on understanding of Prince Jing’s character; more so than Prince Yu himself, it seems.
It feels like Xia Jiang’s going to be the one calling the shots in this partnership, not Prince Yu, judging from how this conversation goes.
While we’re on the topic of Xia Jiang, I’m curious to know how much his minions know, about what he’s doing. I mean, Xia Dong isn’t supposed to know, but now we’ve seen that he’s got other, smaller minion who have been trailing Liyang and looking for an opportunity to do something bad to her.
I mean, it’s possible that their instruction is to steal the letter from her, but I’m guessing that the instruction also includes an order to kill her.
After all, last episode, we’d seen that minion approach Liyang’s carriage with a knife. Does that mean that these Xuanjing Bureau people, who are officially supposed to be upholding justice, are out there blatantly following Xia Jiang’s orders to “take action” against the Grand Princess? 😳
I suppose they’re not so interested in upholding justice, so much as they are dedicated to being secret service operatives?
Meanwhile, Tong Lu’s completely smitten with Junniang, and I’m relieved that Zhen Ping notices how distracted Tong Lu is. At least this puts Mei Changsu’s camp on their guard, to see if anything is amiss with Tong Lu.
I must say, Tong Lu’s completely guileless, when it comes to Junniang. My head imploded a bit, when Tong Lu told Junniang that he’d told his Uncle about her, when he’d first met her, and Uncle had said that there weren’t any issues with her.
That’s a supremely weird thing to say, honestly, and it would have probably freaked out any other prospective bride – except Junniang, who’s already onto the fact that Tong Lu’s likely linked to some kind of intelligence network.
My point is, that’s just how unguarded Tong Lu is, around Junniang, and this worries me.
The other thing that worries me, is that Xia Jiang and Prince Yu agree that Mei Changsu might well be able to deter Prince Jing from paying heed to Wei Qi, when they capture him – and therefore the idea on the table, as we end the episode, is that they prevent Prince Jing from taking Mei Changsu’s advice.
One way or another, they’re going to try to isolate Prince Jing, in order to entrap him.
On top of all that, our Divine Talent Mei Changsu is very ill and all laid up in bed, with strict instructions from Physician Yan that he cannot be disturbed, for fear of endangering his life.
Gah. This is a recipe for trouble, it feels like, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see it all go down, in next week’s set of episodes. Time to buckle up?
Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
@phl1rxd – I haven’t noticed her lip gloss which is a very good thing because that means I don’t feel she’s over glamorized for the role that she’s playing.
I’m seriously getting disgusted with Kdrama’s propensity to overdo when it comes to make up.
@phl1rxd – exactly. She’s the female version of the strong silent type. Ninja vibes. 😆
@Beez – and beautiful to boot. Not to be shallow, but I do love her lip gloss.
@phl1rxd – And thank you, very much, for knocking that right out of me.
@phl1rxd – That’s just the way I hear her name when they say it. I’m sure I’m not hearing the pronounciation correctly but you know me, I was going to come up with something so I can refer to her. Just lucked up that this one kinda sounds like her actual name (to me).
@Beez – that make sense. It also works if you consider her to be like a shadow in the darkness of the Bureau or a shadowy figure when on a mission.
@phl1rxd – Thanks. When it comes to MCS and Banrou, I’ve begin looking for contrivances everywhere.
@Leslie – it does feel like we’ve watched Yuchin mature before our eyes. It’s as if what happened to Jingrui had a profound affect on him too
One of my favorite exchanges in these episodes is the compliment Mei Changsu gives Yujin. “The Yan House is credited with bringing forth three Imperial Tutors, two Chancellors… Certain things have seeped into the bones beyond what words can describe. Yujin, although you are not involved in Court politics, your mindset and vision are extraordinary.” 😢 Mei Changsu gives him such respect. Yujin gets his deserved props. ♥️
Thank you kfangurl for hosting this group watch. I was initially ambivalent as I hadn’t enjoyed my attempt to rewatch and abandoned it one third of the way through (it was too soon and since I knew what happened the suspense was gone). But now with all this lively discussion the group watch has turned into one of the highlights of my week, every week!
Aw yay! Happy to hear that, @Elaine!! So glad that you’re here with us, because your sharing has definitely made this experience richer for everyone too! ❤️😘
@phl1rxd – no sooner than you answer one question and it causes more to spring up –
So is 4th Sister really Jun Niang or is the real Jun Niang done away with while 4th Sister fills in with fake birth mark and all?
@Beez – I believe I have your answer. In the novel Banruo calls 4th sister only that – 4th sister. She (4th Sister) took over the persona of Jun Niang to pull off the honey pot trap for Tong Lu, even to getting the birthmark (painted on?) to fool the Aunt. Book does not go into detail on the birthmark.
@Elaine Phua – I thought so too.
@phl1rxd – not late at all! Thanks as always. (Although I must admit, I got caught up in the story (and in Viki’s tendencies to auto start the next episode) and I have come across the emperor explaining about the Empress and Consort Hui).
Me too, me too. Have raced far ahead *cough*
@kfg – I googled images from that show and all I can say is he must have played quite a role. (As in, I know sometimes a character portrayal can influence how we feel about an actor’s looks).
@j3ffc – Awwwww. I don’t remember the exact name I gave that list but I’m sure it wasn’t as nice as you’ve entitled it. 😆
Sorry to make an out of context comment, but just wanted to point out that the dates in this show refer to the Chinese lunar calendar which runs differently from the Gregorian or Western calendar used internationally today. Even in present day, Chinese festivals around the world are dated using the lunar calendar, and then given a corresponding date in the standard calendar, eg Chinese New year could be in mid January on the Gregorian calendar one year and early February another year.
So when the English subtitles say “January” it should actually be “first month”, for July it should be “seventh month” and so on. Eg Yu Jin’s birthday is the seventh day of the seventh month which is sort of like lover’s day because of a Chinese legend, but other characters joke that his birthday is the day all the ghosts come out of hell to visit the mortal world (also in the seventh month of the Chinese calendar).
Someone mentioned the Emperor could be a Leo as his birthday is in the eighth month, he’s more likely to be a Virgo as uuuuusually the eighth lunar month coincides with September but not always, can’t say for sure as it depends on the year!
Thanks for that info Elaine! Special thanks for explaining Yujin’s birthday. That is very interesting.
Can’t remember which episode it was (definitely before the birthday party of doom), Yu Jin says his birthday is Qixi. Attached the Wikipedia link of the legend of cowherd and maiden who were separated by the gods and can only on the seventh day of the seventh month, ie one day every year. The Japanese also commemorate this festival.
Aha Elaine – I see exactly what you mean in that link. The corresponding dates in 2020 and 2021 are both in August. As I read through that link I also recognized the story and remembered it being in a drama I watched (don’t ask me which one) where it was put on as a play in the drama. Now I will rack my brains trying to remember the name of the drama. LOL! That was great to read all about that – thank you so much!
You’re most welcome!
A relatively slower pace in these episodes, more like setting the scene for future episodes but still some points of interest.
I missed the significance of the whole fight over the rituals (think was in earlier episodes) with the court debate and the restoration of Consort Yue. I actually thought CP and Consort Yue were the big winners since she ended up being reinstated but I now see it was to place all the rival prices on the same legal footing so none could claim any inherent superior legitimate position with regards to the throne, ergo Prince Jing has as much legal right to the throne as the CP and Prince Yu.
Poor Tong Lu, he’s no match for 4th sister, whom I find oddly appealing. She’s not as attractive as the other women in the show but she knows which ones of Tong Lu’s buttons to press. I think that’s why she’s 4th on Lang Ya’s list of beautiful women, it’s not only looks but what you do with it. I have a soft spot for Banruo, she’s smart and calculating, the kind of woman you know is not good for you but you still can’t help it.
Xia Jang is shaping up to be a dangerous adversary for MCS; he has access to all manner and type of resources and is probably the most ruthless character in the show, with an extreme sensitivity to anyone investigating or seeming to investigate the Chiyan case; he kills Xie Yu’s subordinate officer when he learns Xia Dong maybe looking to talk to him.
I agree Consort Jing knows MCS is Lin Shu and Prince Jing’s suspicions are running rampant. Fortunately, affairs of state force him to not pursue this as much as he would have liked. It looks like he’ll have much more to worry about with Xia Jang seeking to capture the former Chiyan lieutenant to bait him into a rash action.
@BE – And still Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars 😆 because most of us women think the makeup and adornment helps to make us beautiful.
It might help some, judiciously applied, not denying that. But like all such things, both work better if barely noticeable and seeming to bring out the natural imo. Now the right scent, that is another story if one wants to haunt someone.
Thank you for the summaries, kfangurl – needed them this week as only managed to watch episode 28 before my Opera thingymy decided to not work 😨 I’m now unable to watch Nirvana in Fire or Kill Me, Heal Me – eeks!
Far as I could see from episode 28, Mama Jing is definitely super-suspicious / certain even, and now you say hazelnut cookies were omitted from those picnic hampers – and Lin Shu was known to be allergic to hazelnuts?! Ooh… Now, if sneaky smart Banruo or Xia Jiang could work this out, they’d only need to slip Mei Changsu a hazelnut in his supper and they’d surely succeed in their revenge plots 😁
I haven’t really minded Prince Yu up until this ep – he benefits from relief funds?! Urgh 😠The Emperor only cares because of the humiliation toward himself? Double urgh 😡
Ah well, hopefully Opera will behave for me ASAP. Seems like we’re winding up to “something”. And Mei Changsu, wake up! You’re needed!
Hey Ele, you could try signing up for a free account with ProtonMail, they provide free VPN to all of their users! I hope that helps to solve your VPN woes! ❤️
I sometimes find that my VPN fails if I try to open the show page first without pointed at the right country. The problem goes away by shutting everything down, opening the VPN first, and then trying to watch the show OR by rebooting and then doing VPN then show. Good luck!
@Ele Nash: NIF is also on YouTube, should be the same where you are.
Thanks all, I am VPN (Very Painfully Not-able-to-solve-my-VPN-issues 😭) but, phew, yes, NIF is on YouTube so I can keep watching 😅 Thanks for the heads up, @Geo!
Ah, this re-watch and following along with your recaps and everyone’s comments is really rewarding. Upon the first few watches, these episodes may seem boring, but when carefully re-watching, so much nuance comes through, as so many connections are made with prior (and later) actions. The long term ramifications of the scholarly court debate regarding the status of the princes is so subtle, but so hugely important, paving the way for Jingyan’s rise.
They mentioned she was a poor widow whose immediate family died in the recent famine, so I think they took advantage of the chaos to assume someone else’s identity (and I suspect killed the real widow). In cases of widespread disaster, identity fraud almost always immediately arises, ranging from ppl faking their deaths to fraudsters assuming the identity of the dead.
Hats off to Prince Yu, he’s a remarkable character with a fantastic actor. Despite being so clearly wrong, I really feel for him. He’s such a product of the systemic corruption at court. Even in the confrontation with his father, the Emperor had no intention of punishing him for the bribes, the fault lay in bringing humiliation to the throne. Ah, such messed up priorities…
@melka – FWIW – I dug around and found some info on 4th Sister. I would think Banruo did her home work on this one as Aunt Qiu was Tong Lu’s neighbor.
Auntie Qiu’s niece’s name was Jun Niang, and she came about a month ago from the far away Wu Province to seek help. When she first found the neighborhood, it was evident that she encountered a long and difficult journey, as she looked so thin and sallow that even her eyes seemed unfocused. After being unable to speak clearly when asking for help, she fainted on the street. It was then that Tong Lu saved her and brought her back, discovering that she was looking for Auntie Qiu. However, Auntie Qiu had been married away from her home town for a long time, and although she remembered having a niece, she could not recall what she looked like anymore. It was only seeing the reddish birthmarks on Jun Niang’s shoulder that she recognized her, and they burst into tears while hugging one another. They did not stop crying until the neighbors came by to comfort the two of them, and from then on, Jun Niang stayed at Auntie Qiu’s house.
Once she settled in, it was natural that Tong Lu and Jun Niang often ran into one another when leaving and returning to the neighborhood. Jun Niang would reveal a little information about herself – it seemed that she had no children and her husband had died …Everyone felt sympathetic, especially Tong Lu, who was reminded of the humiliation his younger sister once endured. Because of this, he would help out whenever he had a chance, and since he saved Jun Niang, she hoped to return favors to him as well and would help him with housework. It was inevitable that the two of them interacted and conversed frequently.
With a newcomer moving into the area, Mister Shisan also conducted procedural investigations, confirming that Jun Niang’s history was as she had described it to be–becoming widowed, being unwelcome in her family, and escaping assault. After arriving, she rose early, rested late, and helped Auntie Qiu sell and stew syrup every day. It was evident that she was skillful, accustomed to hard work, and lived a very simple life. It could be seen that she developed these habits from growing up on a farm as a child, and thus Mister Shisan did not think much of it. Source
Ah super useful, I was wondering how they involved the neighbour Auntie Qiu in the operation. Yes it stands to reason that no one would actually know what a niece from the village actually looked like, so quite a credible cover story.
Thank you for digging up that passage, phl1rxd! It helps make Tong Lu seem a little less like a total dupe, especially with that last part, giving more detail about how she was so convincing and committed to playing her role.
I do like the fact that the villains in this series are competent, but Banrou recruiting Fourth Sister for a honeypot mission felt so transparent and thin in the drama.
@BE – I’d say that’s the most accurate translation if I’ve ever heard one. 😆
@BE -I agree except I’d place Princess-Duchess above Shadow (my name for Ms. BadAzz Inspector Chick)
I have seen pics of both when not in drama and from that perspective I would agree, but in this, all that princess dress up and crown stuff gets in the way.
@Beez – I love that name Shadow! You come up with the best nicknames! 🤣😅😂
No deep thoughts from me this time, it does seem as we’re going through the calm before the storm. I will only share two random thoughts and ask a question:
-Fourth sister surely is meticulous in her work, she must be on TL’s case for months now.
– Xia Jiang gives me Darth Sidious vibes.
And the question: Did I understand well? Are we expecting the rather hot guy from Langya Hall to arrive?
@Natalia: Yes, Langya Hall guy does show up in future episodes.
@Geo @Natalia – I couldn’t process this when I first read Natalia’s current because if you guys mean the guy (physician?) who treats MCS and teases Fei Lu – he’s the least attractive of all the men in this show. I know it’s subjective but if there’s a Lanya Hall unattractive list, I’m sure he’s ranked in the top 5. 😆
@beez;@Natalia: Ha ha , I’ll leave it to the ladies to debate Langya Hall guy’s looks, I thought he was pretty striking myself doing his combat exercises in episode 1.
@beez, I didn’t think he was all that either, when I first watched NIF, but then I watched him in The First Half Of My Life, and found him very charming there! 🤩
I agree, he didn’t strike me as good looking at first but he has a charisma that grows on me with subsequent watches! I suspect he looks better with short hair and modern garb!
For the avoidance of doubt, we are talking about the young master of Langya Hall Lin Chen who has flowing white robes and appears in the first episode (and again towards the end of the show), not Physician Yan of the disapproving glowers!
@Elaine Phua – The weird thing is I find Dr. Yan with his silver hair kind of ahem dashing.
@Beez – check this link out – https://en.hkcinema.ru/actor/38965/gallery. Remember that only the very best tables have marble tops.
Agree with KFG, Jin Dong (the actor) steals the show in The First Half of My Life (我的前半生)。 I’ve been waiting to see him appear in NIF so I can see how he does here.
@Beez – Jin Dong with his Capricorn self is the shizzle. He is best in modern roles with short hair, The hair may be throwing you off. He is not an alpha/action male like Meng Zhi. I love Chen Long as well.
A bit late to the discussion this week.
This three episode set was just talking from start to finish, it got a bit boring.
Ep 28 Nothing to report
Ep 29 Prince Yu’s reversal is rather sudden and abrupt, it doesn’t feel natural.
Ep 30 Does Xia Jiang now have two different outfits and makeups (the grey one and the blue one)? That’s confusing!
@BE – I believe Consort Jing is keeping MCS’ identity secret from Prince Jing for the same reason MCS is – Prince Jing’s upright l, unbending morality and complete loyalty and forthright personality would not allow him to let MCS continue his sacrifice of his health, which from Prince Jingy’s way of looking at it would be only to place Jingy on the throne (as opposed to MCS’ main goal of revenge).
@Beez – great observation!
@kfg @phl1rxd @AnyoneWhoKnows
Ep 28 – how does getting Head Eunuch on Prince Jing’s side necessitate involving Consort Jing? (This is from the conversation between Prince Jing & his mom about MCS’ intent/strategy of not actively courting Head Eunuch)
Tong Lu done fell into the THOT trap. “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” Bel, Biv, Devo
32:39 is that the King’s palace? How Bela Lugosi. Oh no. it must be Consort Jing’s. It looks as of it’s multi stories. I didn’t know that buildings like this existed anywhere during this time period. It’s quite hideous.
Why are all these high ranking women barren so that they came to adopt the Emperor’s illegitimate children?
And yet as the poet Antonio Machado once opined more have died from the shipwreck of lo-o-ove than at sea.
Easy for women to point this out, but ah for a big butt and a smile, the Greeks brought seige, slaughter, and fire to Troy, and yet even Menelaeus upon seeing Helen brought to execution, her robe fall before him, dropped his sword upon the charnel ground.
@Beez – sorry so late in replying but I was down for the count with a real bad cold.
E28 – Answer: “It was that he [MCS] did not wish to get Consort Jing involved…it wouldn’t be suitable for Prince Jing to visit the inner palace too often, so regardless of whether it was during or after they successfully recruited Gao Zhan, they would need to go through Consort Jing to carry out certain actions. Consort Jing was insightful and very calm, so it was not that she would be unable to fulfill the duty. She was a tranquil and compassionate person, and Prince Jing would never wish to see her involved in the deception and scheming that would go on. ” Source
E30 – LOL!
Q – Why are all these high ranking women barren so that they came to adopt the Emperor’s illegitimate children?
A – the Empress and Concubine Hui each gave birth to son around the same time (Big Daddy was real busy 9 months prior) but the Empress’ son died during a plague while Concubine Hu’s son lived. This is why she really has it out for poor Concubine Hui. The Empress then adopted Prince Yu. More on that later.
In Mei Changsu’s inimitable style, he says juuust enough in an arch, indirect way to get you to make your own conclusion. He does that with Prince Yu in earlier episodes – leading questions then the shark bite conclusion (I’m thinking specifically when he pointed out that if Prince Yu persisted, he wouldn’t just be getting the Crown Prince he would be offending the Emperor too!)
With Meng Zhi, these arch questions get nowhere and MCS has to spell out everything with not-so-patient sighs. But with Marquis Yan, he just has to ask a question – “Do you really think I’m here for Prince Yu”? And Marquis Yan’s razor sharp mind figures out everything for himself. MCS barely has to say anything to persuade, once Yan has connected all the puzzle pieces, he’s all in for the plot. Amazing.
With Consort Jing I definitely think she’s figured out MCS identity, and even more so she’s figured out that it must be kept secret from Prince Jing. It is a wise thing not to implicate him by association with a known traitor. I’m just surprised she can’t seem to act more subtly about it with Prince Jing, she is sooooo subtle and artful with the Emperor.
Yes! And it’s a testament to both the writing and acting that MCS’s gentle conversations with Prince Jing was in sharp contrast to Xia Jiang and Prince Yu’s conversation about how to weaken Prince Jing. It was so clear that Xia Jiang was very much testing Prince Yu, to see what kinds of ideas he had before he showed his cards. There was such an underlying sense of menace and almost malevolence, that Xia Jiang saw himself as superior in intellect to the prince before him.
I agree Melka with your assessment of Xia Jiang’s interactions with Prince Yu.
Great comment Elaine!
Hello to all,
I am rushing to work and cannot read this now, but let me just say one thing: Consort Jing rocks!
Does anyone else here have a clue on how KFG manages to do this? Everything clear as a bell. As always as if watching it with you K and you know just what questions are on my mind as we go. S’like drinking water from a spring.
I do not know how she does it BE – Fangurl has been tearing the drama review world up since March 2020. Her Patreon account is so good. I am in awe of not only her skills in breaking down dramas but in the sheer numbers of her reviews here and on Patreon. I only fear that some smart CEO is going to snatch her up and take her away.
Ah the ascension of Mt. Xiao Jing Yuan has begun. Jing is out in the open. Sides are gathering their forces. These 3 eps, a lotta exposition. This is what I call season two, episodes 6-9.
But these questions remain: We know already Banruo has her own agenda, and Xia Jiang certainly used the Marquis (who was we remember the CP’s consigliere) for his own purposes, so if Yu is defeated on Jing’s march through the obstacle course to the summit, will either or both remain standing after that? Yu suffers from a terminal case of tunnel vision. If Jing’s soft spot is his stubborn loyalty, Yu’s appear to be his narcissistic desires by which his so called allies can play him. Mei Chang Su certainly was hip to that from the beginning.
And what exactly is going on around Consort Jing? Her disquiet has raised her temperature now and then to 98.60000001 degrees F (that’s a midge more than 37C for those of you on the Celsius, actually even less than a midge more)sometimes if you are looking closely. Cannot quite put my finger on it or her moves exactly, who is lining up against her and how, but it appears the woman is playing four dimensional chess, of which I am missing still a coupla dimensions, part of which keeping MCS’ true identity from Jing for reasons not yet revealed while encouraging Jing to unwaveringly follow him.
Finally, everyone says the CP is dead, but the fellow is still very much alive and heir to the empire. While Yu has been obsessed with Jing, whatsup with his plan for a complete take down of the Crown Prince. And the Crown Prince, he well may be the 7 pearl Prince of Whine–albeit Yu in his cups seemed to be having more than just a hiccough on that account, but can we really expect he will continue to take this lying down, Hot Mama Yue simply throwing up her hands and walking away?
Beware: HAZELNUTS (cue up the lightly menacing sound track)! Or filberts as they are also known. When MCS came into the Capitol, little more than a year ago, he was told two years to live; snow is falling, the big Dowager death anniversary on its way, up where Nihuang has been sequestered and no consort will be welcome; the Emperor is longing to see a woman who decapitated herself in his dreams; an old general of the Chinyan is somewhere on the outskirts; Tong Lu, Tong Lu, we feel you, man–or to quote the always quotable Bob Dylan in any situation, “look out kid, you gotta keep it all hid”; and while that voice box of Xia Jiong pours forth with dead lead certainty, Mei Chang Su’s neck is on needles and pins.
Well, well said BE! Prince Yu does suffer from a terminal case of tunnel vision – he is obsessed with being the next CP. If the Emperor knew of this meeting all hell would break loose.
Jingmom is so clever isn’t she? 😉
This series would have ended so much sooner and so differently, if MCS had eaten the hazelnut cookie from Tai Nai Nai in episode 2.
Ahahaha did she give him a hazelnut cookie?? So she remembered Xiao Shu but remembered his favourite cookie wrongly?
I had seen a variety show remix of the scenes, where the actors played re-enacted popular scenes, but in diff roles. One of them had Tamia playing Tai Nai Nai giving Hu Ge a hazelnut pastry that he pretended to eat and proceed to go into anaphylactic shock. I thought they were just joking about it, but when I re-watched the episode, I realized it really was a hazelnut pastry that she gave him.
For reference/recipe: http://www.fussfreecooking.com/recipe-categories/sugary-treats/chinese-hazelnut-cookies-happy-chinese-new-year/
I like to imagine that Xiao Shu always happily took the cookie and gave it to Jingyan to eat, so Tai Nai Nai was none the wiser.
Hahaha that’s hilarious, I must go search out that video!
LOL Melka – I remember that video. Thanks for the recipe link – I am going to try making those as another incentive to get my family to watch NIF with me.
Perfect review of these three episodes Fangurl!
E28 – Prince Jing’s confusion over the book is interesting, especially as he has noticed the Meng Zhi and his own mom are acting funny about this book. While he could brush aside Meng Zhi’s concern he certainly cannot brush away his mother’s concern. Her calm demeanor has been ruffled and he knows that is very unusual behavior for her.
Prince Yu is getting worse all the time. Can you imagine him as Emperor? He has pulled away and no longer trusts MCS. MCS is not stroking his ego and this is what he wants right now. MCS prepares.
Tong Lu, Tong Lu. I can hardly stand to watch this con.🧟♀️
Poor maid Qi HIng has to report all the Court gossip to the Empress and Prince Yu. Yikes! I thought I had some bad jobs in my life but this one takes the cake. She cannot lie and has to tell the truth. I got an idea! Let’s get Fei Liu in there to take over because Fei Liu cannot lie and his one syllable grunts will drive the two of them nuts.
Same scene, different characters. Prince Jing is learning to fight according to his father’s perverted standards of brotherly behavior. Consort Jing is getting bullied by the Empress, the Emperor is clearing the decks and Banruo is up to no dam good.
I just want to say right now that I would hire Minister Shen Zhui in a heartbeat. I 💖💖 him. Not only is he excellent in his job but he is a good man. He begs the Prince to save the starving people from Prince Yu’s greed. I so admire this man and his BFF Cai Quan.
P.S. How cute is Chief Secretariat Liu Cheng for cracking up?
DID YOU KNOW…
E29 – Prince Jing is genuinely concerned for the starving residents of the disaster-affected 5 states. Check out Minister Shen Zhui’s comment. I cracked up, especially as MCS has that lightning bolt trick up his sleeve. Worst hit Yeuzhou’s Mayor has sent 5,000 taels of silver to Prince Yu probably to set up a quid-pro-quo scenario.
Can I please interject for just a second to say that Prince Jing looks particularly sharp today?
MCS’ Jiangzuo Alliance intercepted the convoy and made the discovery. MCS has already formulated plan to bring the level of this to a degree that will force the Emperor to act. When brought in for questioning Prince Yu feigns ignorance.
Minister Cai Quan was ready! My dude has steel cajones. He smacks down Prince Yu in front of the Emperor and does not mince his words. He brings up a report from the Governor of Hejian PLUS a record of all the gifts given over the years that this Mayor kept. That is what you call pro-active. Even if the Emperor does not appreciate Cai Quan’s effort I most certainly do.
The Emperor is going to ignore grift like this – and straight up grift it is. I believe many of us are familiar with this word.
Banruo and Prince Yu are talking about the accolades pouring in for Prince Jing and Prince Yu is sulking badly. He sounds desperate. MCS has removed all of his support.
So he is going to play dirty. Real dirty and he knows Prince Jing’s weak spot.
DID YOU KNOW…
E30 – Fangurl I also love how Marquis Yan asks Yujin to stay for this very important conversation. I agree Fangurl that their relationship has changed and it warms my heart as well. MCS now tells Yujin and his father who he really supports. The Marquis is a smart cookie isn’t he?
It is the dead of winter. Wilt Banruo seems to be taking Prince Yu down the path of no return and has brought him to Liuxi House to meet Xia Jiang. Notice how Banruo mentions that she made this connection through her Senior Sister as this is important. Xia Jiang has already come up with a plan to bring down Prince Jing by using the Chiyan Army case. He is ruthlessly evil.
Tong Lu, now compromised, reports to MCS. Notice Pingie paying close attention to Tong Lu as he notices a difference in him. In the novel it says that Pingie was very gifted in reading people. He lets MCS know about General Wei Qi (we never see this dude in the drama and apologies as I left him off the list of people!) who was the Marquis of Ning’s lieutenant during the time of the Chiyan Army case. It appears that Xia Dong wants to talk to this General to gather intel. Too late – Xia Jiang has had him killed! Xia Jiang does not know that Xia Dong has heard the Marquis’ confession in the prison. However he is taking no chances and is cleaning up the traces.
Ugh Tong Lu – how could you go there? I cannot go there with you buddy and I must FF. 🤦♀️
Looks like Xia Jiang has a new assassin, who besides possibly killing General Wei Qi, has also been tasked to kill Grand Princess Liyang? Where does Xia Jiang get his cojones from? Seriously – this is the sister of the Emperor. WTH! 😮
Xia Jiang announces that he has an offensive plan for Prince Jing through the capture of Lin Shu’s Lieutenant We Zheng. It appears that We Zheng took on another identity as Su Xuan, the adopted son of Yaowang Valley’s leader Chief Su Tianshu. Yaowang Valley is a secluded location and is known for its herbs production and sales. This business has made the Chief 7th on the Langya List for wealth.
Xia Jiang has sent Xia Qui to capture him. Notice how Xia Jiang probes Prince Yu and I think he wants to see how clever Prince Yu is so he can use this to manipulate him in the future. Here we see that Xia Jiang is extremely shrewd and has as much knowledge about the Emperor and Prince Jing’s mind as MCS.
The Emperor and Consort Jing are talking and he tells her to let him know if the Empress gives her too much of a hard time. He commiserates that the Empress is too immovable. He then asks her about Consort Chen and talks about his dreams of the dead. For him to able to talk about this taboo subject means how deeply he trusts her. Is the Emperor feeling guilty?
Here we learn that Xia Jiang truly expects Prince Jing will react to the capture of the prisoner based on his loyalty and from prior actions of his in Court regarding the Chiyan Army case. That nasty laugh over the mention of MCS! Banruo really lays it out perfectly.
And – Fangurl is right on the money as it is starting to heat up…again…
DID YOU KNOW…
Love your Did You Knows and yes, highlight of these three eps: Secretariat cracking up at the royal debate. Sheesh Emp, if you wanna see siblings go at it, come ta my house sometime. So indecorous, a breath of fresh air into the room.
The presence of Xia Jiang, Prince Yu and Banruo in the same room spells nothing but potential disaster for Team Prince Jing. Add the Forth Sister and her secret agenda, and we have a real storm in the making which is going to hit soon.
On the other hand, Team Prince Jing gains a worthy ally in Marquis Yan. But can Mei Changsu be of help when his health is not so good? I agree with KFG that these episodes felt like a careful setting of a chess board for the endgame. Nothing in this show is random, so we should expect a huge payoff. But I also anticipate more heartbreak…
“I can’t look. 🙈”
That about says it all! That Fourth Sister is nothin’ but trouble, friends.
As always, kfangurl has provided us with a superb recap and insight into this drama. Kudos and thanks.
Oh, and Consort Jing totally knows.
I am betting on Marquis Yan figuring it out next.
She totally does. I would put it in the 99% certain bucket, for sure. That whole thing with the hazelnut pastries, all the details taken together, pretty much clinches it.
Oh Tong Lu, I am just a widda woman, could you ever, would he ever, yes just rub your strong male body up next to me. You are so nice. Tong Lu singing to himself, “you make me dizzy Miss Lizzy.”
I do feel for poor Tong Lu. 😢
But, having my snarky sneakers on tonight, I can’t help but recall phl1rxd’s intel that “In the novel it says that Fourth Sister placed 4th on the Langya Hall list of beautiful women when she was younger.”
I’m not sure that 4thS is 4th on the list of beautiful women in our show….
Just how many lists does Langya Hall maintain?😀
Tong Lu must be desperate…
More than Guinness, I think!
Quite a few Snow Flower LOL!
Tong Lu – I cannot even watch this honey pot trap…I just holler “No!” at my screen. LOL!
I hesitate as a very old man in putting my two cents on standards of womanly beauty, but I do not find the hair strand hanging down or pasted to the cheek and middle school application of mascara all that fetching myself.
Personally, in show, not from photos outside of show, I think Zhang Ling Xin (Xia Dong) is far and away the most attractive woman, and while I have seen photos of Tamia Liu (Nihuang) more flattering than her outfits in NIF make her out to be, one can certainly see the charisma.
And while a number of the women in lesser roles have their charms, I quite find Jin Feng (4th Sister) quite comely as the poverty stricken widow, and I know this will scandalize some here, far more attractive to me than Banruo. But in any case, here is a link to a glamor shot of Ms. Jin: http://www.cn.hanx.in/2008/12/jin-feng.html
To my eyes, 4th sister is very beautiful… It seems I have the same taste as the person making the Langya Hall list!
I too find 4th sister very lovely. Banruo, Nihuang and Xia Dong are all gorgeous, but I find Grand Princess Liyang and Consort Jing absolutely breathtaking! They remind me of Lin Ching Hsia and Maggie Cheung’s ethereal beauty.
Well if I were 20-25 years younger, there is no doubt that if I were in the market for a serious love affair or marriage and she would stoop so low as to find that intriguing (lol, talk about punching above my weight class), Consort Jing would be the one.
Putting my smarty pants comment aside, I’d be the first to admit that nearly every woman and man in the show is in the top tiny percentage of attractive people on earth, whereas I would personally join Physician Yan in beez’s Langya Hall List of Unfortunate Looking People.
Not gonna hide behind false modesty myself, only forty years ago I wasn’t too shabby.
Ah j3ffc – I am seriously cracking up over here from your comment.