Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Isn’t Mei Changsu quite magnificent, while flexing his chess master prowess? 🤩
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! ❤️
We continue from where we left off last episode, and the thing that strikes me about this scene, is when Jingyan mentions that Xia Dong would be suspicious if Mei Changsu were to approach her for help, in rescuing Wei Zheng.
It feels like an unusually unguarded moment for Mei Changsu, in that he allows his emotion to show, albeit in a subtle manner, when Jingyan refers to himself as someone within the situation (局内人, “júnèirén”) and Mei Changsu as an outsider (literally, someone outside the situation; 局外人, “júwàirén”). There’s a hint of tears in Mei Changsu’s eyes, and an understated sense of irony about him, as he agrees with Jingyan.
It also feels like a bit of a slip-up, for Mei Changsu to thank Jingyan in advance for his efforts towards persuading Xia Dong to help them. Again, this is unlike Mei Changsu to say something that is not in line with Mei Changsu’s prescribed persona and background. Jingyan picks up on it immediately, asking Mei Changsu why he would thank him for this, when Jingyan is the one who wants to rescue Wei Zheng in the first place. I can’t help thinking that Jingyan maybe-possibly might have gotten another clue of Mei Changsu’s true identity, if Commander Meng hadn’t jumped in then, to create a bit of a distraction in the conversation.
I’m slightly surprised that the Crown Prince’s deposement is handled with so little fanfare. I know it’s something that I’ve been waiting for, since (as we all agree) the Crown Prince is extremely ineffectual and really quite annoying.
It is quite satisfying, however, to see Jingyan receive more royal pearls, putting him on the same level as Prince Yu – to Prince Yu’s great displeasure. Which, in itself, also gives me a sense of satisfaction, heh. Banruo’s ability to spin this situation into something more helpful to Prince Yu, is quite impressive. I mean, I’m surprised that Prince Yu even believes her, that this promotion is actually a warning to Jingyan, that he better toe the line and not do anything unbecoming of his new station. Seems like you really can spin almost anything, eh?
Further to the conversation that opens our episode, it seems significant, that we get another conversation – this time with Zhen Ping – where Mei Changsu indicates that he’s not as neutral or objective as he would like to be. It feels like a rare moment of vulnerability, for him to tell Zhen Ping that if this rescue mission fails, it could derail Jingyan’s political ambitions, and it would all be Mei Changsu’s fault for not having been able to convince Jingyan not to act; that Mei Changsu, in fact, can’t even convince himself not to act. For everything that Mei Changsu had said to Jingyan, to dissuade him from attempting to rescue Wei Zheng – and which had angered Jingyan enough to cut ties with Mei Changsu – those had not been words from his heart, and it’s clearer now than ever.
It looks like Mei Changsu is the one that triggers the spate of burglaries around the capital, thus giving Jingyan a reason to increase the surveillance done by the Capital Patrols. I’m guessing that this is all in service of creating a situation where it would be possible to rescue Wei Zheng.
Xia Jiang watching the increased patrols with a look of anticipation on his face, is quite dissonant, since that’s not quite how most people would react, when they notice that the area around them is suddenly more heavily guarded than ever. He really must be very confident, that he will be able to entrap Jingyan. 😬
However, Mei Changsu himself appears to be reasonably prepared as well, and this time, he even has Marquis Yan and Yujin agreeing to help him.
I am pleasantly surprised at how willing Marquis Yan is, to assist in a mission like this, that has a high risk factor, and yet no guarantee of success. However, when he explains his point of view to Yujin, his reaction makes perfect sense. Marquis Yan has always been a man of passion and principles, and so, when he realizes what this foolish yet courageous mission is about, and that it is something that his departed friends would approve of, I completely believe that he’s willing to give his all towards making the mission a success.
I do love that Yujin is so willing to pledge himself to the cause as well, even though he doesn’t know Jingyan personally, because of his implicit trust in his father, and in Mei Changsu. He’s so pure and so earnest. I am definitely growing very fond of him.
We also get two other key reveals this episode, namely, that Consort Jing really is keeping a secret memorial tablet for Consort Chen, and also, Xiao Xin really is a spy! Ack, this is not a good combination of things. And you guys were so right, to be suspicious of Xiao Xin!
As it turns out, Xiao Xin’s actually part of the Hua tribe, which also makes her part of Banruo’s network. It’s rather mind-boggling, that she had been planted in the palace since she was a child. That’s a really long time to be undercover, isn’t it? But, it looks like she’s ready to dive into the thick of the action now, what with all her snooping around, and then presenting herself at Zhengyang Palace, in order to report her findings to Prince Yu.
It looks like Stuff is going to hit the fan very soon, doesn’t it?
There’s a whole lotta scheming and plotting going on this episode, and it’s nail-biting and intriguing at the same time, seeing the various pieces come together.
The plan that Mei Changsu puts in place is truly multi-pronged.
There’s Marquis Yan luring Xia Jiang and Xia Chun out of the Capital, and Xia Dong luring Xia Qiu out of the Capital, and paving the way for the Yaowang boys to enter Xuanjing Bureau. And then there’s the burglars who will appear outside Xuanjing Bureau just as the Yaowang boys exit, so as to create enough confusion with the Capital Patrol, so that it would provide the Yaowang boys with some cover to escape with Wei Zheng in tow.
Yujin’s also tasked to bring Grand Prince Ji to see Gong Yu, but we’re not told why yet, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how it’s all related either. All I know is, there’s a small army of people involved in this very elaborate plan to break Wei Zheng out of prison, and there’s a lot hanging in the balance for Jingyan and Mei Changsu as well.
In terms of specific points of interest, one of the things I thought I’d mention is the way Prince Yu’s Consort refers to her relationship with Banruo as that of sisters (姐妹 “jiěmèi”). We’ve seen that aside from actual biological sisters, this term is also used among wives of the same man, to refer to their “sisterly” relationship.
We know that Banruo isn’t actually Prince Yu’s concubine, but my mom theorizes that, judging from the way Prince Yu’s Consort uses the term, and how she tends to have a sense of discomfort about her whenever she comes upon Banruo in Prince Yu’s company, and also, judging from the way Banruo’s often seen massaging Prince Yu’s shoulders, and the way Prince Yu in turn holds her by the shoulders like in the screenshot above, it’s a reasonable conclusion that Banruo is something of an unofficial concubine of Prince Yu’s.
I thought that was really interesting, and it does blow my mind a little, that Banruo is willing to go this far, for so long, for the sake of her mission.
On another note, now that Prince Yu is aware that Consort Jing has erected a secret memorial tablet for Consort Chen, I do wonder what he’s going to do with that information.
I’m not especially worried for Consort Jing, because I’m assuming that the Emperor will protect her, since he’s the one who’d asked her to create this memorial tablet in the first place. However, there is that niggling thought, that the Emperor has been spoken of repeatedly as a cruel man, so there’s part of me that worries about whether he will pretend that he never asked Consort Jing to do this, and expect her to shoulder the blame for this on her own.
I find the conversation between Marquis Yan and Xia Jiang fascinating, not least because it gives us a glimpse into Xia Jiang’s past, as well as his character, as a person.
I don’t know why, but I’d never thought that Xia Jiang had a family. I suppose, because he comes across as such a dedicated villain type, I just assumed that he wouldn’t be into the idea of having a family. And as it turns out, I’m not entirely wrong about that.
What an interesting reveal, that Xia Jiang’s wife had saved Princess Xuanji from slavery and taken her in, only to be heartbroken by her husband’s growing connection with Princess Xuanji. Xia Jiang must have been very involved with Princess Xuanji indeed, for his wife to have taken their young son and run away, because she’d given up hope of getting her husband back.
It really is very telling, that when Marquis Yan hints that he knows the whereabouts of the person Xia Jiang cares about the most, Xia Jiang only cares to ask for information about his son, but not his wife. I guess he never felt sorry for treating her the way he did? Did he really consider Princess Xuanji his One True Love, then? Or.. is he his own true love, because he is too selfish to truly care about anyone other than himself..?
I thought that Marquis Yan does a solid job of playing dumb, when Xia Jiang outright accuses him of collaborating with Prince Jing, to break Wei Zheng out of Xuanjing Bureau.
What a terrible reveal, though, that Wei Zheng has been removed from Xuanjing Bureau, and in his place, Xia Jiang’s had explosives installed, ready to blow up the entire place, along with the people who are storming the place in order to rescue Wei Zheng. Yikes. No wonder Xia Jiang looks to be in no hurry at all to return to Xuanjing Bureau, despite guessing correctly that Marquis Yan’s deliberately brought him out of the Capital, to pave the way for Wei Zheng’s rescue.
Marquis Yan’s observation, that Xia Jiang has no care for whether Xia Dong lives or dies, is eerily spot on. Even though Xia Dong is a disciple that he’s kept by his side for many years since her youth, I absolutely wouldn’t put it past Xia Jiang to see her as necessary collateral damage. Plus, he hadn’t hesitated to kill her husband in the past, when it had served his purpose. Why wouldn’t he do the same to her now, since it serves his purpose, and he’s lost trust in her anyway?
Meanwhile, Jingyan and Mei Changsu can do nothing but wait for news of how their plan has unfolded. Eep. If they only knew about the terrible trap that Xia Jiang has set. 🙈
Well. Things certainly didn’t unfold the way I’d expected. I think I’m as surprised as Xia Jiang himself, heh.
I’m majorly impressed, of course. To think that Mei Changsu had anticipated that Xia Jiang wouldn’t risk Prince Jing actually being successful in rescuing Wei Zheng from Xuanjing Bureau, and would therefore have Wei Zheng moved, to ensure Prince Jing’s failure, no matter how deep into Xuanjing Bureau his men managed to get.
Now that I think about it, it makes complete sense, that Xia Jiang would move Wei Zheng, and it’s really clever of Mei Changsu, to stage the attack in a way that would convey that the attack on Xuanjing Bureau itself, was just a distraction – thus leading Xia Jiang’s side to quickly check on Wei Zheng, at his actual location. It’s brilliant.
The thing that shocks me the most about Xia Jiang’s plan, which he reveals to Marquis Yan with such condescending satisfaction, is that he would literally kill an entire multitude of people, in order to pin the crime of breaking Wei Zheng out of prison on Prince Jing – even if Prince Jing really was completely innocent. How evil. 😳 That blows my mind, seriously.
I do love that Yujin thinks to hide Xia Jiang’s and Xia Chun’s horses, making it necessary for them to run toward the Capital gates on foot. Muahaha. That feels like a great little punishment for Xia Jiang, for acting in such a high and mighty manner around Marquis Yan. Such great thinking, on Yujin’s part!
On the thing about the special rock that pleases the Emperor so much, the characters that they see etched within the natural lines of the rock, are 梁聖 (liáng shèng), which means Sacred Liang. In Simplified Chinese, the characters look like this: 梁圣. I should probably also mention that traditionally, Chinese is read from
left to right right to left (thanks Elaine, for pointing out my typo! 😅) which is why, in the dialogue, they refer to the rock as containing the characters 梁聖 and not 聖梁.
I have to admit, I got quite a bit of satisfaction from seeing Xia Jiang all mussed up, with his hair in disarray; it really makes him look like he’s been defeated, and is at his wits’ end.
However, I don’t think very well of the Emperor, for being so quick to jump on the theory jointly suggested by Xia Jiang and Prince Yu, that Prince Jing is the one behind Wei Zheng’s jailbreak. After all, there is no evidence to support their claims.
I’m impressed with the way Jingyan handles the interrogation by the Emperor and Xia Jiang. He stays calm throughout, and everything that he says is reasonable and logical; even the Emperor has to admit that Jingyan makes some kind of sense, when Jingyan points out that he would need a huge secret army, if he were to be able to successfully penetrate the likes of Xuanjing Bureau.
Prince Yu is so sneaky, to have the Empress report on Consort Jing’s treasonous act, right when the Emperor is feeling so vexed on the matter of Wei Zheng’s escape.
The Emperor’s reaction is heated and emotional, mostly because he’s already angry and upset to begin with. I hate that he goes ahead to kick Jingyan, and does so repeatedly, even though he himself has admitted that there is no evidence to prove Jingyan’s involvement, and Jingyan’s defense is reasonable. I’d say that the Emperor’s reaction is most UNreasonable. Huh.
As a matter of interest, the phrase that the Emperor keeps saying, as he kicks Jingyan, is 狼心狗肺 (lángxīngǒufèi). My subs translate this as ungrateful, which is not wrong, but I just thought you guys would find it interesting to know that the phrase literally translates as “wolf heart dog lung,” meaning to say that the person on whom this phrase is used, possesses the heart of a wolf, and the lungs of a dog. This saying is used to refer to a person who is unusually cold and cruel. There’s a legend behind this saying, which I thought you guys would find interesting. You can read about it here.
I hope the Emperor doesn’t punish Consort Jing, because, after all, he’s the reason that that memorial tablet even exists, and I also hope Jingyan successfully weathers the storm of accusation that’s swirling around him right now, while staying calm and aggravatingly reasonable. For now, I’m guessing that Grand Prince Ji’s witnessing of Xia Dong bundling Wei Zheng into the carriage, was orchestrated in order to point the finger back at Xuanjing Bureau, and thus, Xia Jiang himself. Ooh. That could be an interesting turn of events, no?