Open Thread: Nirvana In Fire Episodes 31, 32 & 33

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Such an iconic scene from the drama, finally on our screens! This was the highlight of my watch, these few episodes. No lie. 🤩

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 31

As it turns out, we are still in set-up mode for our Next Big Thing, with things being shifted into place this episode, for what promises to be fireworks, next episode.

I distinctly remember that during my first watch, there was an episode where I’d felt bored, because Mei Changsu had spent the entire episode being ill.

Heh. This is that episode, for sure. However, I am not bored this time around, most likely because I’m watching this with a much more detailed sort of lens than the casual lens I’d had on during my first watch.

This episode, I’m quite intrigued, actually, to see how our various characters manage, when Mei Changsu isn’t there to provide all the answers. I even found it rather refreshing, to see the wits of our various supporting players at work.

They really are a solid bunch, which I’m not at all surprised by, because of course Mei Changsu would have recruited the best, for his mission.

Before we get into that, however, I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate how sincerely Physician Yan, Li Gang and Zhen Ping care for Mei Changsu’s wellbeing.

Even when Mei Changsu gives them Meaningful Looks, to prompt Li Gang and Zhen Ping to help persuade Physician Yan to give him some breaks from complete bed rest, Li Gang and Zhen Ping decline to accede to his request, and instead provide him with all the reasons that it should be fine to rest for the next 5 days.

They even nudge Fei Liu into joining their little campaign, and I kinda love that it’s Fei Liu’s emphatic, “Be good!” that gets Mei Changsu to back down, lie down, and go to sleep, just like the doctor ordered. It’s cute.

As an aside, my subs translate Fei Liu’s words as “You have to listen!” Literally speaking, 听话 (tīnghuà) means “listen to what is spoken / listen to the words” but the use of this phrase is typically meant in the spirit of “Be good.” Isn’t it cute that it’s Fei Liu telling Mei Changsu to “be good”? 😆

It’s a little trying to watch everything shifting into place to entrap Jingyan, while Mei Changsu is all laid up in bed, but it seems that – at this moment in time, at least – fortune is favoring Prince Yu and Xia Jiang, because there couldn’t be a worse time for Mei Changsu to be unavailable for counsel, than this.

I’m pretty sure neither Prince Yu nor Xia Jiang knew that in all of their scheming, that even without their intervention, Jingyan would have to fend for himself, without Mei Changsu’s guidance.

Aside from Wei Zheng’s capture, I do think that the whole idea of having the Empress bully Consort Jing in the Emperor’s absence, and then having a fake Jiangzuo Alliance representative convey an idea from Mei Changsu that would entail Consort Jing’s continued inconvenience, humiliation and hardship, is from Xia Jiang.

After all, he’d been the one who had said that they needed to cause Jingyan to not want to listen to Mei Changsu’s advice.

It’s very shrewd, really. Jingyan is very protective of his mother, so an indication that Mei Changsu treats her lightly would not go down well at all.

I’m curious to see if Jingyan falls for this trap. Will he reflexively turn on the person who allegedly has no care for Consort Jing, or has the trust between Jingyan and Mei Changsu been built up enough, that Jingyan will instantly know that this is not Mei Changsu’s doing?

In the meantime, I feel terrible for Tong Lu, as Banruo makes her move and has him attacked and bound. To be fair, Tong Lu does a valiant job of fighting off his attackers, and I’m somewhat impressed that he’s got some fight skills in him.

Honestly, I’m rather shocked that Banruo draws blood from Junniang, while, er, “negotiating” with Tong Lu. I can’t help wondering if Junniang was prepared to suffer physical wounds while helping Banruo; I have a feeling that this was never agreed upon.

Which means I also can’t help wondering if Junniang regrets agreeing to help Banruo, at any point during this whole thing.

How smart of Tong Lu, to give Banruo “intel” about Miao Yin Court (I just realized in this scene, that the characters for Miao Yin Court are 妙音房 (“miàoyīn fáng”), which translate literally as “amazing/wonderful sound room” – isn’t that cool? And apt?).

This way, he buys time, while indirectly alerting Mr. Thirteen and gang that something’s up. I am rather worried for Tong Lu, however. Is Banruo going to kill him for this? 😬

The other thing I’m a little shocked at, is how Prince Yu tells the Empress that the physician who had testified that the herb in Consort Jing’s quarters was harmful, knew the consequences when he’d agreed to the task.

Given the way Prince Yu says that the Emperor might take his anger out on the physician, but Prince Yu will treat the physician’s family well, he’d planned this knowing that this might cost the physician his life.

And, the way Prince Yu talks about it, it’s as if he’s paying a very reasonable price for the man’s life, by taking care of his family. I know this is par for the course in palace intrigue, but it still disturbs me.

The last thing I wanted to mention about this episode, is the phrase Prince Yu uses, in answer to the Empress’s question about how prepared he is, in his plans. (It’s one of my mom’s favorite phrases that she’s learned from this show.)

Prince Yu says, “万事俱备 只欠东风” (“wànshì jù bèi zhǐ qiàn dōngfēng”). This translates literally as “ten thousand things prepared, lacking only the east wind.”

This proverb refers to a situation where all possible preparations have been made, and the only thing left to do, is to wait for “the east wind,” where the east wind is something that is critical to your success, but is not within your control, and also, is not something you can predict.

At this stage of our story, Jingyan’s reaction is the east wind.

All the preparations have been made, but will Jingyan react in a manner that Prince Yu expects?

Episode 32

Watching this episode was like waiting with Prince Yu, to see whether and how the east wind would blow.

This episode isn’t slow per se; it just feels a little frustrating to watch, because there are traps every which way that our good guys turn, and no one enjoys watching the characters that they’re rooting for, struggle to win, right?

On the upside, Consort Jing comes out of the situation with the Empress totally looking like the bigger person, with the gracious way that she speaks up for the Empress in front of the Emperor.

Although the Empress had said, last episode, that she finds Consort Jing passive-aggressive, I actually don’t detect that, in her words. She strikes me as wise and gracious, always having a farsighted view of things, and her words in defense of the Empress feel respectful and sincere, with no hidden daggers.

Of course, this doesn’t make the Empress feel great, especially since the Emperor compares her to Consort Jing to her face, and finds her wanting, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Empress is sore about this.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Empress henceforth looks for an opportunity to crush Consort Jing. 😬

Afterwards, that scene where the Emperor’s interest is piqued by what Consort Jing says, when she mentions that Consort Chen doesn’t have any memorial tablet or shrine where she can receive incense or joss paper, feels potentially significant.

I mean, he’s asking her to do something for him, and to keep it a secret.

Circumstantially, it looks like he might be asking Consort Jing to erect a secret memorial tablet for Consort Chen? If that’s true, and if the Empress were to ever find out about it, that could spell trouble for Consort Jing?

..But then again, if she’s doing it under the Emperor’s orders, I suppose he will end up being her safety net.

Over on Wei Zheng’s side of things, it’s not great that our Jiangzuo guys stage a rescue, and fail. It’s even worse, that lots of people are injured as a result – Zhen Ping being one of them.

Sniffle. I find that I have a soft spot for Zhen Ping, so I was really sad and kind of shocked that he got so hurt, especially since he’s proved himself to be such a formidable martial artist. 😭

It’s also troubling to see how pleasantly relaxed Xia Jiang is, in instructing Xia Qiu not to guard Wei Zheng too tightly, because otherwise he would be useless as bait.

With Xia Jiang looking so confident about how effective Wei Zheng will be as bait, I can’t help but worry for the people who would probably try to break him out of that prison: our guys at Jiangzuo Alliance, and maybe-probably Prince Jing’s side as well.

I’m actually really quite surprised that Junniang appears to be genuinely concerned for Tong Lu. After all, the only reason she’d gotten involved with him in the first place, was as a favor to Banruo.

And yet, now, she’s asking Banruo to let Tong Lu go, and Banruo correctly estimates that as long as Tong Lu is in her hands, Junniang will continue to stay by her side.

Well. I guess this means that Tong Lu really did win Junniang over with his sincerity after all. I wonder if Junniang will attempt to save Tong Lu, then?

I have mixed feelings about Mei Changsu waking up and getting involved in the strategizing for how to counter the happenings with Wei Zheng.

On the one hand, it’s a relief that his brilliance is now available to our guys, who have been struggling to do their best without him, and who haven’t had great results, on their own.

On the other hand, he really does look very weak and wan still, so it feels rather cruel, to have him dropped into the thick of this political battle, when he’s still in such poor shape.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, that Li Gang and Zhen Ping had also been part of the Chiyan Army. Somehow, I’d just assumed that they were people that Mei Changsu had come to know as he’d formed the Jiangzuo Alliance, kinda like how he got to know Tong Lu.

Now, their background as having served in the Chiyan Army from a pretty young age, because they were orphans, does add a pretty thick layer of poignance to their allegiance to Mei Changsu.

The way they beseech Mei Changsu not to ask them to leave, as he gives instructions for all former Chiyan Army members (aha! So there are many more known survivors! This is comforting news?) to stop operations and lay low, is so.. personal.

They sincerely want to stay by Mei Changsu’s side, and I find that very moving. I’m glad that he agrees; I’m not ready to say goodbye to Li Gang and Zhen Ping. I’ve grown really fond of them both. ❤️

In the meantime, it’s slightly nerve-racking to watch Prince Yu intercept Jingyan, and bring him before the Emperor, for the staged heckling that he and Xia Jiang have in store.

Ugh. It really is quite infuriating to see Xia Jiang and Prince Yu role-play upstanding members of the court, when what they’re really doing, is pushing Jingyan’s buttons, and baiting him to say something that will put him out of favor with the Emperor.

My mom had a very good point about the Emperor’s reaction in this scene. Her point being, the Emperor is a shrewd man, so of course he isn’t blind to the baiting that Xia Jiang and Prince Yu are engaging in.

Mom and I agree that the reason the Emperor allows the baiting, and even seems to side with Xia Jiang and Prince Yu, is because he himself has some regrets about how he had handled the Chiyan case 13 years ago, such as the death of Consort Chen, for example.

By testing Jingyan on this, and asking if Jingyan has any objection to how he had handled the case 13 years ago, I do think that the Emperor is looking for Jingyan to soothe his conscience and smooth over any lingering regrets that he feels.

Thank goodness for Commander Meng, who does his best to signal Jingyan with a Meaningful Look, and tries to speak up on Jingyan’s behalf.

I think that probably does give Jingyan enough pause, to hold back just a little bit. And thank goodness for Gao Zhan, who basically saves the day by reminding the Emperor that he’s promised Consort Jing not to fret before meals.

Jingyan’s bad day is far from over, though, what with well-meaning but misguided maid Xiao Xin blurting out that Consort Jing had suffered a lot in his absence, and had almost not been able to see Jingyan again.

Dang, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, isn’t it? It’s literally the last thing Jingyan needs, since his nerves are already frayed. Will Jingyan lose his trust in Mei Changsu, like Xia Jiang and Prince Yu have planned?

Episode 33

Oof. This was an episode that felt full of emotion. Even though the real fight with Xia Jiang and Prince Yu doesn’t seem to have fully begun, I already feel like we get a solid amount of payoff, for our patience over the last several episodes.

It’s really not much of a surprise, that Jingyan becomes furious, after listening to Xiao Xin’s recounting of events, particularly at the part where the supposed representative from the Jiangzuo Alliance had relayed Mei Changsu’s casual treatment of the report that Consort Jing had been detained by the Empress.

After all, like I mentioned earlier, Jingyan’s nerves are already frayed from being baited by Xia Jiang and Prince Yu, plus, Consort Jing is precious to him, and of course he would be upset at the idea that Mei Changsu would treat her suffering lightly.

I was hopeful that Consort Jing would be able to get through to Jingyan, but even her impassioned (for her) efforts don’t get very far, especially with Xiao Xin piping up and fanning the flames in her well-meaning but misguided way.

Gosh. I’ve never heard Consort Jing speak so sharply to anyone so far, and the way she commands Xiao Xin to be quiet, is quite startling in how forceful it is. Too late, though, because the damage is done, and Jingyan’s not about to listen to reason, even if it’s from his own mother.

Certainly, when Jingyan’s in such a state, it’s probably not a good idea for Mei Changsu to speak with him, but time is of the essence, and of course, that’s why Mei Changsu seeks an audience with Jingyan, even though he’s still weak from his recent bout of sickness.

Sighh. It’s hard to watch this conversation between Jingyan and Mei Changsu, because we can see exactly how each of them feels, and therefore, we can pretty much see the misunderstanding growing, and the estrangement descending on this partnership, from a mile away.

From Mei Changsu’s point of view, he feels it’s important to protect Jingyan at all costs, and not involve him in something as dangerous as rescuing Wei Zheng. He can clearly see that this is a trap, and of course he doesn’t want Jingyan to walk into that trap.

But from Jingyan’s point of view, he can’t ignore the fact that Wei Zheng, who was Lin Shu’s vice-general, is in prison, and in danger of losing his life.

Given that Jingyan already feels disillusioned by the false report of Mei Changsu’s stance on Consort Jing’s wellbeing, it’s not very surprising that he would decide that it’s best for he and Mei Changsu to put an end to their alliance.

Even so, that moment when Jingyan takes Zhanying’s sword and slices the bell down from its place where it had worked as the signal between him and Mei Changsu, is breathtakingly dramatic. I think I felt my heart drop to the ground, along with that bell. 💔

This is awful; I feel so misunderstood on Mei Changsu’s behalf.

Mei Changsu really does understand Jingyan well; it seems that he can tell that there is more to Jingyan’s agitation, than the issue with Wei Zheng. Augh. I do hope that Jingyan will learn the truth about this particular incident with Consort Jing, since that isn’t resolved this episode.

I really appreciate Zhanying at this point, because with Jingyan cutting off Mei Changsu and therefore everyone in the Jiangzuo Alliance, Zhanying is the only person who can reason with Jingyan, whom Jingyan would give ear to.

I love that even though Zhanying doesn’t have the full picture himself, he’s able to say some things in Mei Changsu’s defense, and also, reason with Jingyan, that because Mei Changsu hasn’t walked the same path as they, they can’t expect him to understand the sense of loyalty they feel towards Wei Zheng. Good man, Zhanying!

Thus far, we’ve already seen that Consort Jing is masterfully tactful and wise in just about all situations, but this episode, the way she answers the Emperor, when he poses her the very delicate question of what she thinks about how he had handled the Chiyan case, is in a league of its own.

She is so smart, to ask for forgiveness first, and then present both views of the case:

“I grew up in the Manor of Lin and was very friendly with Consort Chen, so if I speak ill of them how will you not be hurt? Consort Chen didn’t have many friends, so not many people miss her after she died. If I consider our past relationship and speak for the Chiyan people, then your majesty will think that that I didn’t understand your heart to steady the kingdom.”

With this answer, she not only is able to avoid stirring up the Emperor’s anger – and we already know this is a very sensitive, sore topic with him – she even manages to present an alternative perspective to his, while she’s at it. Consort Jing really must be peerless, I think. 🤩

The true highlight of these few episodes, for me, though, has to be the conversation between Jingyan and Mei Changsu, when Mei Changsu seeks Jingyan out at his manor, because he just can’t let Jingyan cut off their relationship.

That moment, when Jingyan finally comes out to meet Mei Changsu, and proceeds to cut off their relationship all over again, and Mei Changsu goes after Jingyan in the snow, dropping all decorum, and shouts in desperation, “Xiao Jingyan! Stop right there!” is so very, very iconic.

This feels so honest and raw; it feels like it’s Lin Shu calling out to Jingyan, not Mei Changsu. I love it.

The following argument is heated and heartfelt, and – I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help giggling a bit at the part where Mei Changsu exclaims, “You have loyalty, but why don’t you have brains?!” I can really feel Mei Changsu’s exasperation at Jingyan’s stubbornness, in this one single utterance.

I do love that ultimately, it’s a demonstration of understanding and empathy, that mends the bridges between Mei Changsu and Jingyan.

Though a lot of stuff that Mei Changsu says is basically shouted at Jingyan, through his words, he does display a deep sense of grasping not only the nuances of the situation, but also, exactly how Jingyan feels, particularly towards his fallen friends and comrades.

I’m glad that Jingyan chooses to back down, and ask Mei Changsu for his thoughts on how to proceed. Yay for mended rifts! (But still, I need Jingyan to know that Mei Changsu has been wrongly accused, on the matter concerning Consort Jing!)

I’m pleased to see that Jingyan does look chastised and apologetic, when he realizes that the attempted rescue of Wei Zheng at the city gates, had been done by the Jiangzuo Alliance.

I also find it interesting that Mei Changsu doesn’t bother to tell Jingyan that he’d had been laid up in bed and therefore hadn’t been involved in any of the happenings of the past 5 days. It seems that he’s choosing to own everything that Jiangzuo Alliance has done, even in his absence.

That is a mark of a true leader, and I respect him for that. I do hope that Jingyan comes to know that Mei Changsu had been out of commission though, and had nothing to do with botched rescue attempts or (like I keep saying) any alleged purposeful neglect of Consort Jing.

It looks like Xia Dong is going to be the key to Wei Zheng’s rescue from Xuanjing Bureau. Mei Changsu has an excellent point, that she’d look upon Wei Zheng, not as a criminal, but as a friend of her late husband.

And, given that she now knows that Xia Jiang had actually killed her husband under the guise of helping him, she now won’t trust Xia Jiang either.

Let’s hope that Jingyan will be able to keep that temper of his in check like Mei Changsu advises, and not take any bait that Xia Jiang or Prince Yu throw at him, in the meantime!

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2 years ago

Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Episode 31

  • -Wei Zheng – one of Lin Shu’s Lieutenants (Vice General in the novel) , adopted son of Yaowang Valley’s leader Chief Su Tianshu, married to Yun Piaoliao a daughter of the wealthy Yun family
  • -Concubine Xiang – Price Yu’s birth mother who lived outside the Palace
  • -Physician Zheng – one of the Royal physicians on staff at the Palace
  • -Xiao Xin – Consort Jing’s maid seen very briefly in a few prior episodes

Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
Episode 31

  • -Wei San – site of the Grand Empress Dowager’s tomb

Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Episode 32

  • -Chief Su Tianshu – Chief of Yaowang Valley, ranked 7th in wealth on Langya Hall list

Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
Episode 32

  • -Yaowang Valley – remote valley far beyond the reach of the central government, renowned for its herb production

No new characters or places for E33

Last edited 2 years ago by phl1rxd
2 years ago

I miss Princess Ni Huang

2 years ago

@Damien What’sYourName – getouttahere (where’s a good giant boot-to-the-azz emoji when you need one)

2 years ago

– I’ve had that error in the past. I’m always on my phone so if you are too…
Just under the web address bar is sometimes another thin bar that says “kfangirl verdict” or something like that plus a share symbol and/or a symbol like this ↕ only diagonal that means expand. Click that symbol and sometimes it tells you this is a shortcut to make the page you’re trying to access load faster (a redirect) but sometimes it will take you to the actual page (you’re already on from our pov, but the “real” page and not the shortcut).

I did not understand any of what I wrote to you above, I just know it works for me.

2 years ago
Reply to  beez

Thanks, beez. I’ve been able to work around by making sure I’m signed into WordPress first, and now everything seems to be OK. I’ll keep your suggestion in my inbox just in case…

Last edited 2 years ago by j3ffc
2 years ago

I’ve been unable to open the current 33-36 discussion due to a “too many indirects” error….anyone else having this issue?

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Thanks….second time today! So far, I’ve been able to get back on.

2 years ago

– I tried clicking on your avatar & name here that’s on your comments and nothing happens.When I click on Sean K Fletcher’s name, it takes me to his WordPress page but it doesn’t work on yours. I wanted to see if I could follow you.

2 years ago
Reply to  beez

Ah – That happens when I am not fully logged in. I will look into fixing it.

2 years ago

@BE – Now you said it! 😆 All the logic and reasoning heretofore has been trumped by that one statement -if Commander Hawtie said it then I’ll go along with it. 😆

2 years ago

@BE – I’ve seen no evidence of the ability to show calm restraint by Prince Jing when it comes the Chiyan case. What you say makes sense for a normal person but if even his mom thinks he can’t handle it without getting himself thrown in prison and executed similarly to Prince Qi (is it Qi? His older brother who was labelled a traitor), then I can only go with what the people in the story closest to him believe and also what I’ve seen so far.

And while you may be right that it’s condescending and I wouldn’t want my friends or loved ones to treat me that way, remember that MCS has a plan that doesn’t involve necessarily carrying about how people end up being treated emotionally.

I have a question – is it condescending when you know how a person is going to react? And is it condescending if you know you’re smarter than another person on a particular subject so they wouldn’t understand so you only explain a portion that they can process?

2 years ago
Reply to  beez

For me this is not only based on Jing’s general performance to date as a general, a man who has even yielded at first vis a vis taking over the relief operation when tens of thousands were at stake, and then doing a bang up job when events and conditions changed, but the 2+2=4 of the current mess they have just gone through simply because Jing has been left out of the loop. The whole of MCS plan, were it not for Jing’s ability in the end to be able to acknowledge his own shortcomings, was about to be blown to bits. Period. Jing knows MSC is LS, and none of what we just watched had to happen. Time folks, MCS, Mama Jing, the audience, stop underestimating Jing IMO! Commander Meng’s been saying so for episodes now.

2 years ago

@Elaine – my eyes are certainly not rolling other than from my own confusion. I didn’t even think of those questions, but now that you’ve raised them…

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 years ago
Reply to  beez

Haha I’ve gone through the whole thread but I can’t figure out what questions you mean! Sorry Beez!

2 years ago

@BE – Oh. I got confused because subtitles change from streaming platform to platform (sometimes episode to episode). I thought you were talking about General/Commander/Hunkster Meng.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 years ago
Reply to  beez

No one would dare diss Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love Meng Bean Boo! 🤣 We all love him too much.

2 years ago

@BE – Some if our biggest clients were Japanese and that’s how I tasted the mungbean cake. You are being very, very, very, extremely kind. They’re very pretty though.