Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Augh. This shot of Mei Changsu is so full of pathos, isn’t it? His expression says so much, without him having to say anything at all. 😭💔
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 felt like a relatively muted episode, when compared against the tension and thrills of the last few episodes, but it all feels organic and necessary. There is fallout to be reckoned with, and that reckoning takes time.
I’m a little bit surprised by how despondent Prince Yu is, as we begin our episode. After all, when we’d last seen him, he’d managed to avoid the joint trial by the 3 Judiciaries, as petitioned by Cai Quan and Shen Zhui, which I’d considered a bit of a win, given his circumstances.
However, Prince Yu’s more forward looking than I am, for sure; he’s already forecast that he will have no other opportunities to fight for the throne, given the Emperor’s disappointment in him, for having joined hands with Xuanjing Bureau to deceive him.
I did feel rather sorry for Cai Quan, who’s still really upset and sore about the Emperor sweeping the illegal fireworks factory case under the rug.
Like I said, I’d be mad in his shoes too. What does strike me, though, as he rants to Shen Zhui, is how Cai Quan’s focus is the sense of injustice to the people who’d died in the explosion. It’s clearer than ever, that his moves are not politically motivated; he just really wants a just administration that can answer to the people.
It’s heartening, though, to hear that both Shen Zhui and Cai Quan have hope that Prince Jing will eventually be able to create that just administration. Also, Shen Zhui’s such an earnest friend; I love the way he breaks out his 60-year-old wine in an effort to console Cai Quan. That’s cute.
It’s no surprise to me, that Consort Jing navigates her conversations with the Emperor with wisdom and shrewdness. To the Emperor, he’s just having some idle conversation with her, as he enjoys a relaxing massage.
But Consort Jing’s astute answers, to his various questions and remarks, essentially work to position Jingyan in a more favorable light with the Emperor.
For example, when the Emperor says that he will make it up to Jingyan, for suffering the injustice of being wrongly accused by Xia Jiang, Consort Jing’s remark, that Jingyan’s fortune is bad, and therefore he cannot take too much of the Emperor’s favor, is so smart.
Because of what she says, the Emperor defends Jingyan’s right to receive his favor, and goes so far as to assure her that he will ensure that Jingyan is more than able to withstand the weight of his favor, which I take to mean that the Emperor will accord Jingyan with additional support and whatever rank or resources necessary, to protect him from naysayers &/or schemers.
Not only that, when the topic of Mei Changsu comes up, Consort Jing carefully says that Jingyan hasn’t spoken about him, and then asks a few questions about Mei Changsu, on the pretext of knowing more about him.
Which eventually leads to the Emperor not only instructing her to tell Jingyan to consult Mei Changsu more, but also offering to take her on the Spring Hunt, so that she will have a chance to meet the elusive but famous Mei Changsu. I count that a bit of a coup, really.
Significantly, the Emperor even goes so far as to say that it’s time for Consort Jing and Jingyan to start thinking more ambitiously, and that he likes how Jingyan doesn’t build factions within the court, and is fair in how he manages things.
Praise and approval from the Emperor, who had once disdained Jingyan for being too straightforward? Wow. This is progress indeed! Mei Changsu’s strategy really is bearing fruit, and I somehow feel a great sense of satisfaction about this.
On the other side of things, I was super relieved when Commander Meng hears about the Wujin poison pill from Xia Dong when he visits her in prison.
I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how and where the antidote would be found – only to feel quite blindsided, when Physician Yan pronounces that the Poison of the Bitter Flame, which is the poison that is affecting Mei Changsu (and which presumably is the source of his ill health), had basically destroyed the Wujin poison upon its entry into Mei Changsu’s body.
What?!? Ok, I definitely hadn’t seen that coming. 🤯
I don’t know how much actual poison sense that makes, since I know nothing about poisons, but there is a saying in Chinese – 以毒攻毒 (“yǐdúgōngdú) – which literally translates as fighting a poison with another poison, so I’ll willingly buy the idea that Show’s serving up, that Mei Changsu’s not in need of the antidote for the Wujin poison.
The other thing that I’d been waiting for – that Jingyan gets to hear Xiao Xin’s testimony – also happens this episode.
YES. Finally, Jingyan comes to know that it was Xia Jiang’s and Prince Yu’s doing all along; that Mei Changsu had never sent that message, to say that it’d be fine to allow Consort Jing to be inconvenienced for a while.
It’s a big lesson for Jingyan. Not only does he learn that his straightforward character is easy to read and manipulate, he also becomes more cognizant of the fact that he’d harbored doubts about Mei Changsu, despite having agreed to work with him.
The self-reproach is written all over his face; it’s clear that he is deeply regretful for having misunderstood Mei Changsu, when he should have trusted him.
This is a huge blow, for our upright Jingyan to realize that when he’d cut ties with Mei Changsu, how unfair it had been to Mei Changsu, and yet, how far Mei Changsu had gone, not only to persuade Jingyan not to give up their partnership, but also, to realize Jingyan’s desire, of saving Wei Zheng, even to his own detriment.
I can imagine the turmoil and guilt that Jingyan feels, as all the pieces shift into place in his mind.
It’s no wonder that when Jingyan receives news that Mei Changsu’s been poisoned by Xia Jiang, he is so determined to get the antidote, that he looks like he really would take the risk to kill Xia Jiang for it, if necessary, even though Xia Jiang’s trial isn’t even over yet.
The scene where Jingyan and Commander Meng confront Xia Jiang in his prison cell, is pretty gripping stuff, partly because of Jingyan’s and Commander Meng’s barely controlled fury, but also, because Wang Yong Quan, who plays Xia Jiang, has such a commanding screen presence, even when he’s all disheveled and bound in chains.
The way Xia Jiang doesn’t back down, even when Commander Meng’s got him in a death grip, and even continues to taunt Jingyan, shows just how ballsy he is. It really seems like he won’t cower, even if it’s in the face of death.
Even after Jingyan and Commander Meng leave him, you can see that his mind is still racing. My guess is that he’s trying to figure out what’s going on, and how that can help him get out of this predicament.
Based on his secret conversation with Banruo (whom I had trouble recognizing, without her signature red eyeliner!), Prince Yu has a chance to secure Xia Jiang’s release, and it has something to do with the Spring Hunt. Looks like our Big Villain hasn’t fully fallen yet.
We end the episode on a thoughtfully poignant note, with Jingyan going to see his mother, and talking with her about Mei Changsu, Wei Zheng, and most of all, Lin Shu.
This feels like an important processing step for Jingyan, because he’s finally able to articulate how much he owes Mei Changsu, how much he wants to solve the Chiyan case, and how much he wishes that Lin Shu were still alive.
Augh. There’s a lot of heartbreak that Jingyan’s still nursing, and from the concerned, compassionate expression on Consort Jing’s face, I really half expected her to tell Jingyan the truth right there; that his beloved Lin Shu, whom he misses so dearly, is right there before his eyes. 😭💔
But, Consort Jing has more self-control than I give her credit for; she doesn’t tell Jingyan. But she does mention that even if Lin Shu were able to come back alive, he wouldn’t be the same Lin Shu that he once was.
Ahh. I kind of think that Consort Jing is preparing Jingyan, in case he does come to know of Mei Changsu’s true identity one day. She is always so shrewd and so wise!
How poignant, to hear that Lin Shu had asked Jingyan to bring him back a pearl from Donghai, but even though Jingyan had brought back the pearl as requested, Lin Shu wasn’t alive to receive it from him.
Oof. That’s gotta hurt. 💔
Again, this felt like a relatively muted episode, but, with this show, I can feel assured that our story’s not resting on its laurels, but rather, is taking a studied approach to putting things in place for our next big wave of excitement.
It’s just really good to see Mei Changsu well enough to be up and about, and even enjoying a few chuckles, while watching Commander Meng spar with Fei Liu.
That’s a welcome relief, after seeing him fade in and out of consciousness for the last little while. It’s also heartwarming to see how relieved everyone around Mei Changsu is, to see him feel better.
I’m always most touched by the heartfelt loyalty of Li Gang and Zhen Ping; they are so sincerely thankful that he’s doing better, and it warms my heart to see it.
I’m also touched by the fact that in Mei Changsu’s eyes, the first order of business, now that he’s better, is to look into Tong Lu’s situation. I feel like most other people in his position would have hastened to turn their backs on Tong Lu, since it’s clear that Tong Lu’s given up at least some intel on Jiangzuo Alliance.
However, Mei Changsu’s trust in Tong Lu is strong enough, that he doesn’t doubt Tong Lu, in spite of the circumstances. Instead of turning his back on Tong Lu, he’s assigning resources that are already limited, to check on Tong Lu.
The other smallish beat that gives me a sense of satisfaction, is when Noble Consort Yue is demoted, and Consort Jing is promoted to Noble Consort Jing, in her place.
Given that earlier in the episode, we see the Empress snidely nudge Noble Consort Yue to get a hold of herself, so that someone else isn’t promoted to take her place, this feels like a bit of a slap in the face, not only to Noble Consort Yue, but to the Empress as well.
Muahaha. I did get a bit of satisfaction outta this, though I do worry a bit, over how the Empress is now likely going to do her best to make things difficult for Noble Consort Jing.
On this note, I have to say, Noble Consort Jing’s palace maneuvers are so graceful, that sometimes, you wonder whether she actually means to nudge the Emperor in a certain direction, or if she really just happens to inspire him a certain way.
For example, the way she confirms that the creams are the correct ones to send to Consort Hui, while massaging the Emperor, triggers him to ask what the creams are and what they’re for, which is how she has an opening to relate the story of how Consort Hui’s hands hurt because the Empress wants her to produce two copies of the Buddhist scriptures on short notice.
That then leads to her suggesting that the Emperor persuade the Empress to go easier on Consort Hui, which then gets the Emperor thinking of another idea.
And part of that idea, apparently, is to assign Consort Hui’s son Jingting, to oversee the Xuanjing Bureau case, because Jingting will be fair and accurate in handling it.
The maneuvers are all so gentle and slight, that I sometimes wonder if they were ever there, to begin with. She’s such a master, truly. If she were a villainess type, she’d be super scary and formidable, don’t you think? 😜
I’m intrigued by Commander Meng’s visit to Xia Jiang, this episode. It felt like I was watching a game of dare, with each side trying to outwit the other, on his word alone. I do wonder how true it is, that Xia Jiang’s two supervisors had died.
Also, are we talking about Xia Chun and Xia Qiu, I wonder?
After all, they’d been Xia Jiang’s main supervisors at Xuanjing Bureau.. But then again, Commander Meng had assured Xia Dong, that because Xia Qiu hadn’t been present when everything had gone down, he wouldn’t be implicated.
Hrmm. 🤔 Are we talking about a different set of supervisors, or is Commander Meng pulling a fast one on Xia Jiang, in order to get him to make the confession that the Emperor wants?
Because Xia Jiang is our Big Villain, it does give me a sense of satisfaction, to see him apparently blindsided and at a loss, after hearing Commander Meng’s words.
In particular, I get an inexplicable sense of glee, from Xia Jiang’s disbelief, that Mei Changsu hasn’t died from the Wujin poison pill. Yes, it doesn’t make any sense in his understanding of the world, and for some reason, this pleases me. Muahaha.
I’m also inordinately amused by how the Emperor keeps telling Jingyan to seek out Mei Changsu, and Jingyan resolutely acts naive and innocent as to why that might be the case.
Oh, the irony. If the Emperor only knew, that Jingyan’s been consulting with Mei Changsu, long before the Emperor ever thought of Jingyan as a potential candidate to succeed the throne.
I did also low-key enjoy the scene of Jingyan sitting with Mei Changsu, with Shen Zhui and Cai Quan along for the ride.
It’s pretty cool, to see how much enjoyment Shen Zhui and Cai Quan derive, from the opportunity to discuss politics and philosophy with Mei Changsu.
What sticks in my mind more, though, is what Mei Changsu says to Commander Meng, about why Jingyan is going to the trouble of bringing Shen Zhui and Cai Quan with him, to visit.
It’s a thought that’s deep with pathos; that when all is said and done, everything – including the tunnel, Su Residence, and Mei Changsu himself – will eventually fade away without a trace, and this is Jingyan’s way of helping Mei Changsu to leave traces of himself.
Ack. That’s a sad thought. 😭
Meanwhile, with Prince Yu continuing to wallow in his misery, Xia Jiang urges Banruo to open the silk pouch that Princess Xuanji had left for her, for a time when she had no options left.
What is in the pouch?!?? I can’t even imagine, honestly. Also, is Wei Zheng really at Mu Manor, like Jingyan suspects?
Ok, wow. That pouch gives up a secret that I absolutely did not see coming. Prince Yu’s mother was Princess Xuanjing’s elder sister Princess Linglong, and therefore he has Hua blood? And that’s why Princess Xuanjing had specifically assigned Banruo to stay by Prince Yu’s side, to assist him to the throne?
I’m.. gonna need a minute. Woah. 🤯
No wonder the Emperor had kept Prince Yu’s mother’s background so hush hush, all these years.
Also, what is this, that the Emperor had taken Princess Linglong as his concubine, but had then reneged on whatever promises he’d made to Princess Linglong, and had had the Hua Tribe eliminated for their alleged alliance with Da Yu, after ascending the throne?
I have to admit to feeling rather confused about this, and so I consulted my mom about it, and from what she tells me, basically, the then would-be Emperor had formed that alliance with the Hua Tribe by marrying Princess Linglong, so that the Hua Tribe would help get rid of Da Yu, an enemy that stood in his way.
Upon ascension of the throne, however, he reneged on the promise represented by the alliance, and instead of using his power to strengthen the Hua Tribe, he used his power to eliminate them. And it’s because he eliminated the tribe of his own concubine, that he’s had to keep Prince Yu’s mother’s identity a secret all these years.
Gosh. That’s evil, and cruel. 😳
In talking about it with Gao Zhan now, the Emperor remarks that if Prince Yu had proved himself worthy, he would have considered giving him the throne. However, my mom points out – and I do agree with her – that it’s a lot easier for him to say that, now that Prince Yu’s been taken out of the running.
On this point, Prince Yu’s probably more accurate in his estimation that the Emperor had never seriously considered him as a potential successor, because of his Hua lineage.
Honestly, I think the Emperor would have been too suspicious of what might happen, if Prince Yu came to find out about his mother’s identity.
On a side note, isn’t it quite ironic, that the Emperor says of Prince Yu, “You reap what you sow,” when really, he’s the one we’re watching in the process of reaping what he’s sown.
I do feel a bit sorry for Prince Yu, because he’s just realized that his own mother had died because of his father, which basically makes his entire life a lie. No wonder he’s all torn up and disillusioned.
The way Prince Yu says, with sword in hand, “How you got the throne in the past, today, I too can do the same,” tells us that the Emperor had gained the throne via a coup (although we’re not told whether it was against his father or a brother), and now, Prince Yu is going to literally follow in his father’s footsteps, and plan a coup.
Ohhh. This is going to be action-packed and exciting, no matter what happens, right? 😱
The other big event this episode, is Wei Zheng arriving at the Su Residence, and meeting first with Mei Changsu, and then with Prince Jing.
Guh. The way Wei Zheng rushes forward and addresses Mei Changsu by his military rank of Young Marshal, had me getting emotional. I hadn’t noticed it on my first watch, but upon being addressed as Young Marshal, the entire way Mei Changsu carries himself changes, even if but for a moment.
Suddenly, there is a strength in his gaze, his voice and his gestures. For just this moment, he’s fully himself again, and not hiding behind an alias. It’s pretty moving stuff to witness. 🥲
And then, when Jingyan arrives, with Commander Meng and Zhanying in tow, and they all sit down to hear Wei Zheng’s account of what had happened at Meiling, it’s such a charged, emotional moment.
What a terrible thing to realize that the reason the Chiyan Army had been successfully wiped out, is because the troops that Xia Jiang and Xie Yu had brought to Meiling, had attacked the Chiyan Army, after they’d already spent themselves in battle – and then, those same troops had claimed the credit for the battles that the Chiyan Army had spent themselves to win.
To think that Wei Zheng – and likely many others too – had thought that these troops had arrived to help them. How completely shocking it must have been, to have been attacked by troops whom you’d assumed were on your side? It’s so tragic, really.
The thing that moves me the most, in this scene, is how Jingyan concludes, with his heart in his throat and tears in his eyes, that Lin Shu absolutely can’t come back now. And there is his Xiao Shu, looking on at him with the same tears mirrored in his eyes, unable to reveal his identity.
The wistfulness is so thick on both sides, that I feel like I could cut it with a knife.
The star-crossed bromantic feels; it’s too much. 😭💔
I can understand Jingyan’s fury, and his burning desire to redress the wrongs done to the members of the Chiyan Army, but Mei Changsu has a point; it would be nigh impossible to get the Emperor to admit his mistake – and his admission, is key to the reopening of the case.
I’m glad that Commander Meng is there to back Mei Changsu up on this point; I was half afraid that Jingyan would go ballistic on Mei Changsu again, like how he’d lost it, back when Mei Changsu had tried to dissuade him from saving Wei Zheng.
How refreshing, then, to actually see Jingyan give instructions to Wei Zheng to follow whatever orders Mei Changsu might have for him, while he stays at Su Residence.
Ahh. It does feel like something fundamental has shifted for Jingyan. Are we perhaps glimpsing some of that trust that he’d regretted not having, in Mei Changsu before?
Poor Tong Lu. I kinda hate that Fourth Sister lies to him in order to trick him into revealing details about Mei Changsu and the Jiangzuo network, though I reason that she really doesn’t have much choice but to trust Banruo and just hope that Banruo still stay true to her promise, to let them go when she gets what she wants.
This look of betrayal, though. It really feels like Tong Lu’s heart is being crushed into a million pieces, right in this moment.
I’m anticipating that our following set of episodes is going to be exciting, because where we leave off, Prince Yu is firmly in place at the palace, getting ready to pull off a coup, and claim the throne as his own.
It’s pretty uncanny to imagine the Emperor perhaps doing something similar, all those years ago, when he’d pulled off his own coup for the throne.
This father and son pair are really too alike, though they are reluctant to admit it.
And how about that meeting between Noble Consort Jing and Mei Changsu, where she purposely spills tea on his sleeve, so that she can check for the same mole that Nihuang had once tried to check for as well?
I was a little confused at first, in that it made me wonder whether Noble Consort Jing really doubted her belief, that Mei Changsu is Lin Shu.
But I suppose it’s human nature to want confirmation, and in concrete form, if possible. Noble Consort Jing’s been convinced for some time now, that Mei Changsu really is Lin Shu.. Will she really be thrown off by the lack of an identifying mole on his arm? I’m guessing that she’ll find another way to confirm his identity.
From the expression on his face, it’s safe to say that Mei Changsu clearly knows that she knows, though. I wonder if we’ll get to witness a proper reunion soon, between aunt and nephew? 🥺
Character Reference Guide
(In order of appearance and description is based on their place in drama at time of appearance)
Episode 40, 41 and 42
Places/Sects Reference Guide (in order of appearance)
Episode 40, 41
Ditto my thought and I am sure most of the viewer’s
w.r.t. previous comment
Abt difficulty in recognising without banroe’s signature red eyeliner
@phl1rxd – I, too, like all three characters (but I have no problem picking a favorite) 😉
Although, despite my having a favorite, I was happy to see MCS assign Fei Lu to watch over Yujin during the battle and, as usual, Fei Lu was right there at the exact moment he needed to be to protect Yujin’s back.
@phl1rxd – Are you implying that there are times when my sqeeing is not justified???? I protest! 😂😂😂
@BE – Thank you kindly, Sir. I should warn everyone who’s not into full on squeeing to avoid my comments currently in The Rise of the Phoenixes thread. I’m going hard core. 😆
@Beez – I would say that your Sqeeing over at TROP is totally justified.
@BE – It’s all in fun BE. All in fun. This is what you get sometimes when you frequent what originated as a fangirl site. 😆
Since the site has morphed into something more, I’ve probably reduced my squee-ing down by 80%.
@BE – I can’t wait. (Although, you picking out guys for me is like women picking out women for men. What we think is attractive…) lol
Don’t worry beez, I have been warned: no links to that charming and handsome Wang Kai crooning for you. And I love to hear you wax poetic and bat your eyelids at the gentlemen with the rough edges. Oh beez, you heartbreaker you, what will the younger women do with you around? It gives me joy. Please do not tone it down on my account. (PS K, go ahead and keep doing your hrrrr hrrr business as well, lol–nuff of this circumspection. Beauty will always be a thing.)
@Geo -well said 👏.
Great job Fangurl and special thanks to Mom for all of her fabulous insight!
E40 – Prince Yu truly loves his wife. No matter his other faults, this one thing is clear in the drama and the novel. Watching Prince Yu in this moment gives us another side of his personality – one that might have been more dominant if not for his upbringing.
Some may think that the two besties Minister Shen Zhui and Minister Cai Quan are too rigid in their beliefs but I think they are on target.
Jingmom is so clever isn’t she? Let me just say here that I love when the Emperor makes that little noise after he utters what he considers some profound bit of wisdom. It cracks me up. The best part of this conversation is that Jingmom is going to the Spring Hunt!
Xia Dong is stoic in her prison cell and cannot even say her Shifu’s name. She shows how deeply she loved her husband. I really do love Xia Dong. When the Wujin poison is mentioned, Meng Zhi flies into a panic.
Men Zhi is on the warpath and he is thrilling to watch in action. He is tearing the Bureau apart looking for the antidote.
Notice Wang Kai’s fingers as he walks down the tunnel steps – his fingers are so long and exquisite.
Banruo is like a pesky fly that will not go away. What diabolical brew could the two of them be cooking up now for the Spring Hunt?
So we now know what is wrong with MCS – he has been poisoned by ‘The Poison of the Bitter Flame’ which has dissipated the effect of the Wujin pill’s poison. In the meantime not knowing this information, Meng Zhi and Prince Jing are at Xia Jiang’s throat both literally and figuratively. One thing for sure – Meng Zhi has blown his cover in front of Xia Jiang.
Thank you Fangurl for that lovely tidbit of info on 以毒攻毒!
The conversation between Jingmom and Jingy is so, so sad.
DID YOU KNOW…
E41 – MCS is back up and running while Consort Jing in that gorgeous blue fur lined little cape admires her wutong tree in her courtyard.
When the Emperor is with Jingmom notice how he refers to the Empress as ‘Madame Yan’. LOL! He stated in the novel that he found her to be cold. If I can find the exact remark I will post it later, suffice to say it was not complimentary at all. Fangurl – you explain it brilliantly when you state that Jingmom is a master – yes she is!
He decides to give the trial to Prince Jingting, son of Consort Hui. This is the reason why the Empress bullies Consort Hui – because her son lived while the Empress’ son died. Sincere apologies to everyone as I just realized that I spoiled that information a few weeks ago!
Chapter 139 in the novel goes into a lot of detail on this prison visit between Meng Zhi and Xia Jiang. First, props to actor Wang Yong Quan who is masterful in this scene! Xia Jiang is between a rock and a hard place. Here are a few points from their conversation:
Moments after the above interchange between Meng Zhi and Xia Jiang, Meng Zhi goes to see Xia Dong. When she asks about her two companion disciples Meng Zhi says ““Oh, neither of them were there on the day of the incident. Since it could not be assumed that they were both accomplices, they will probably just be dismissed from their positions. There will probably be some other form of punishment, but it should be nothing too serious…..” Source Who can blame Meng Zhi for that lie to Xia Jiang? I certainly cannot.
There is a YT video of deleted scenes and my favorite is some additional footage from the MCS. Jingy and Bestie Minister’s meeting. It is not subbed and the video contains future spoilers but I will post a link when we are all done.
Good job Fangurl on realizing that Bnaruo’s reddish-pink eyeliner is gone! To be honest, she is so beautiful she does not need it.
DID YOU KNOW…
E42 – Yes Fangurl, that is a super duper huge reveal! Wowsers!
More reveal from Wei Zheng and we learn tons. I marvel at MCS’ composure, as hearing the story must have been incredibly painful.
When Prince Jing turns to Wei Zheng and askes him to listen to Sir Su’s orders Wei Zheng replied that he will definitely listen to Sir’s orders. In the novel Wei Zheng said this like a soldier taking orders. He responded so quickly and so directly that Prince Jing was a little startled. Even though Mei Changsu had rescued him, it shouldn’t have been so easy for a general with a fiery and forthright disposition to proclaim such words of obedience. “There are no rules in our house. General Wei is too polite.” Mei Changsu smiled and [quickly] changed the topic. “If there is anyone you shouldn’t provoke, it’s Physician Yan. Your wounds have not healed completely, so he would most likely attend to you. When that happens, you must not offend him at all costs, otherwise I will also get into trouble.” Source
Some battle info from the novel: The Chiyan Army was given an Imperial order from the Emperor to stay in their garrison above Ganzhuo but when their scouts arrived and advised them of the impending arrival of Da Yu Lin, Shu’s father made a field decision and marched the army out to meet them. “In critical war situations, a general in the field is not bound by orders from the ruler, which is why Commander Lin sent an urgent report to the Emperor while at the same time issuing orders to strike camp and meet the enemy. Later, this move also became another proof of great crime.” But Commander Lin’s report was intercepted and never reached the Emperor, so this was added to the treason charges.
If the Chiyan Army had engaged the Marquis of Ning/Xie Yu, that would have amounted to treason. Lin Shu and his father would not have agreed to be sitting ducks either but they were literally exhausted from defeating the 200,000 Da Yu troops. Many of the troops never realized what hit them. They were dammed if they did and dammed if they didn’t. To add insult to injury, Xie Yu took credit for the Da Yu defeat.
Wei Zheng collapsed and was rescued by his foster father Valley Chief Su who had traveled to Meiling for a rare medicinal ingredient and just stumbled upon the devastation. Chief Su managed to save some survivors.
Prince Jing is gutted.
Now to my favorite part of the drama – The Spring Hunt!! Oh Boy, Jingmom is going to want to meet MCS. Can I handle it?
First let me state an obvious fact here that Hu Ge is looking simply amazing in all black! Yujin mentions that Lin Shu taught him about the hunt. See my DID YOU KNOW below for a very fun fact.
OK we are to the ultimate emotional scene – Jingmom meets MCS. What can I say but every single time I watch this scene I cry the minute MCS lifts his head up when he enters the tent. It is heart breaking and even sadder in the novel.
DID YOU KNOW…
Attaching a photo of a wutong tree lined street.
@ phl1rxd your novel insights are always such a pleasure to read.
When I first watched NiF, I seriously shipped Xia Dong with just about everyone, and that scene of her in prison (where she looks so lovely without her make up) and Meng Zhi had me thinking they’d be a great pair. They’d even attended Jingrui’s disastrous birthday party together.
Cai Quan can drink, but I laughed at Shen Zhui’s expression, when he was bragging about his 60-year old wine, which his younger colleague just tosses back without savoring it at all.
A obligatory plug must be inserted for the Lin Shu/Xiao Jingyan symbolic portmanteau. It has been pointed out that the character for pearl 珠 contains radicals (王 and 朱) from the names of our two main characters Xiao Jingyan 靖王 and Lin Shu 林殊. (Hopefully I did that correctly.)
Ah reading more details about the Chiyan massacre is so intense. I really appreciate Fangirl giving us the two shots of our male leads’ wibbly eyes.
Poor Yujin, it would have been hilarious to see a flashback of their first hunt with Lin Shu and Xiao Jingyan babysitting. (Though all of Zhang Zhehan’s flashback bits are now being surgically excised from NiF in China… so maybe it’s for the best that flashbacks were used rather sparingly.)
@melka Cool tidbit about how the pearl character combines radicals from our two male leads! Just a small correction, 靖王 refers to Jingyan’s title, ie, Prince Jing, and not his name, Xiao Jingyan. 😊
Thank you for the correction!
Melko – I was unaware of all the brouhaha re: Zhang Zhehan. Oh dear! I had to google it. I see that they are removing those scenes from NIF. I guess there goes any hope of him playing young Lin Shu if NIF3 is a prequel.
Wow, when you offend the Chinese they thoroughly disappear you from the Internet! Yikes. I think it is awfully insensitive of him to pose at Yasakuni shrine but is it really necessary to delete all his appearances? Word of Honor was a well reviewed show, doesn’t it deserve to remain in posterity?
Ah Elaine – this appears to be a world wide trend. I cannot imagine NIF without the much needed and appreciated back flashes of young Lin Shu. I had to check the Internet and sure enough they are removing these.
I love this bit about Lin Shu & Yu Jin, whattan insufferable, self absorbed young rascal Lin Shu was, and yet it is easy to see given the hardshops of his life, that despite the hard earned wisdom and compassion for others he has accrued in the intervening years, how wistful and strangely happy it must make him to recall his calliw youth. Such a luxury to have been like that then.
@phl1rxd: Thanks for the nuggets of information you provide from the novel. Until I read the description of the box Xia Jang found himself in, unable to confess to anything without making things worse for himself, I didn’t realize all the subtleties of the trap MCS had placed for him. Xia Jang was in a hopeless situation, where staying silent in his current imprisoned state is the “best” of all possible options open to him. Truly a divine talent is MCS.
@KFG: Thank your Mom for her insights, they help flesh out a show that one knows is complex but is actually even more complex than you think; something along the lines of not knowing what you don’t know, courtesy Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defence. Your comments as well as your mom’s insights help a lot in gaining a fuller understanding of the train of events.
Prince Yu, as several have said, is a tragic figure. This is one of the marks of an outstanding show where the characters are real, having their strengths and weaknesses. These are not cartoon, one dimensional characters but individuals driven by their history, by the current course of events, to pursue paths to achieve their goals. The one character that comes perilously close to being one dimensional is Xia Jang, driven by the need for power, he commits murderous, despicable acts on the slightest suspicion, abandons his family for another woman, attempts to kill Wei Zheng’s rescuers with a huge bomb without a thought for the collateral damage to be suffered by his own guards. Can’t think of any saving grace except perhaps his love for the Hua princess Xuanji (but even that is tainted) but is there a more commanding, intimidating, villainous presence?
The Emperor seems to be identified as the main villain in the show by some viewers in the comments below but is he really? His weakness, extremely suspicious, paranoid nature is exploited by others, even MCS. But for rulers who gain power by force, their all-consuming fear is that history does not repeat itself; it’s a short step from that to paranoia. In a way, he is a “victim” of his circumstances…which he helped create. Power corrupts…etc. Marquis Yan, who together with Lin Xie, helped the emperor gain power, remarks how much he changed after that. He must have had many redeeming characteristics for Marquis Yan and Lin Xie to support him. The actor playing the emperor does a tremendous job showing all the nuances of a complicated, suspicious man, alone at the top, after finding out the one person he really trusts to be loyal to him, Xia Jang, turns out to be otherwise.
For Beez, I’m firmly on the Meng bandwagon now. I had forgotten his brief and subtle comments which guide and direct the emperor’s thinking and they carry even more weight as he’s not known to be brainy or devious. Finally, he takes down the Bureau and Xia Jang and looks absolutely heroic.
Finally, as a Banruo fan, I can say she looks just as or even more attractive as the servant girl, without the signature eyeliner, and now we have a better understanding of the reasons for her scheming and ruthlessness. We may not support her actions but we understand the depths of her motivation.
I haven’t mentioned consort Jing and the exceptional analysis and comments by KFG and others but I would add, is there another character playing a more dangerous role than her; she lives in relative isolation in a court which is a nest of vipers who are always scheming to bring her down, with few friends and none powerful, and she has to handle the combustible emperor, for whom one wrong word is the difference between life and death.
Geo – I second that – excellent and thoughtful comment. Great thoughts on Jingmom.
Thank you, phl1rxd
Thoroughly terrific.Anothr post demonstrating how great or what this group watch. So insightful!
On Meng Zhi looking heroic, I noticed that his style of fighting on the show is about pure power, heavy two handed punches which throw several grown men at once. Whereas Zhen Ping has graceful swordplay and Fei Liu is whirling and bird like.
Elaine – that is a really nice description of the three different styles. Since I am a fan of all three characters it is hard to chose a favorite.
Well, as usual I jump on here as quickly as life allows (I will say only this: this show, and this forum, have been balms in some difficult times), only to see that you all have already said everything that there is to say. As usual, thanks for the wonderful recap/analysis, kfangurl, and thanks to our NIF experts for providing the “color commentary” that keeps us all in the loop.
Curious as all get-out about the poisoning theme, I reached out to a professional friend who, as it turns out, is an actual expert on poisoning. Unfortunately, she had not heard of Wujin poison, per se, but here is some real-world, relevant data for the Interested among you.
“I have not heard of this particular poison, but now I’m interested to see what is out there about it.
It reminds me of the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon case, which also involves a Chinese poison, on darts, or arrows, or some weapon I think? The story is similar, the character in the film will die after ?? days if the antidote is not found, then there’s a frantic mission to find it. I don’t remember the specifics, but the antidote is in some exotic location (far away), and maybe involves a bird? Anyway, the things in common with your story: (1) delayed (2) antidote (3) Chinese.”
Delayed action poison:
“As for other poisons with a delay, there are plenty that are slow-acting, like arsenic, but the one that seems most similar is the Death Cap Mushroom. The victim gets immediately ill (gastric), then recovers within like 24 hours, no more symptoms, until he dies after several days of liver poisoning. If too many days go by, death is a sure thing, from what I understand. So, no antidote.”
“As for antidotes, yes they are a thing. The cleanest and most scientifically satisfying are the different molecules that affect the acetylcholine pathway, so acetylcholine esterase inhibitors can be counteracted with acetylcholine receptor antagonists, and vice versa. Physostigmine and atropine are naturally occurring antidotes to one another, and if you believe certain interpretations of Homer, these are responsible for the story of Circe/Odysseus/Moly. There are also antidotes to snake venom for example, and other venoms[sssssss]. Lastly, I would say that there are antidotes to alcohol poisoning, some that directly compete for reaction alcohol dehydrogenase (like using ethanol for methanol or ethylene glycol poisoning), and others that block the enzyme active site without reaction, or disrupt the enzyme in a different way, like fomepizole. These cases are interesting because alcohol is not the actual poison, it’s the metabolism of the alcohols that’s most dangerous.”
(Thanks so much, A!)
Finally, I thought the way Cranky Doc was able to figure out what as going on by dripping some blood in a tea cup was one way cool assay!
Finally finally, random Q: did I miss a step between everybody being all freaked out about the poison, lookin’ for the antidote, and all, and then finally Meng going, oh, yeah, we’re good….
Great info j3ffc! Yes, thank you A! Let me steer clear of all Death Cap Mushrooms and Alcohol. I am going to take that antidote verbiage and have my masters degree biologist daughter further explain those terms to me – very interesting!
When Xia Dong told Meng Zhi that MCS was poisoned by the Wujin pill he freaked and then Prince Jing freaked, but that was before Physician Yan did the cool ‘blood in cup’ test that proved that MCS own poison negated the Wujin Pill poison. Meng Zhi had that info on his last visit to Xia Jiang when he told him do you think you would be alive if he (MCS) was dead? Hope that answered the Q.
Li Gang rushed to the prison in time to let Prince Jing and Meng Zhi know that MCS was OK. And yes there was a time skip.
Terrific stuff. These posts!! Thanks j3ffc
(Nother Hamlet reference, sorry, next time I will link in phl1rxd to some fun salsa music or beez to more pretty boy pics)
It does make one wonder what kind of poison did Uncle Claudius stick in papa Hamlet’s ear that did him in, especially in such a way as leaving the poor ghost to wander around in Purgatory in the aftermath, let out only to haunt his thus cursed son to bear the whole brunt of his uncle’s calumny.
Poison the quiet assassin’s weapon of choice!
I love the way they set up the hunt, with so many plot points being laid down and small moments are both earned and lay the groundwork for more. Nothing is wasted here:
MCS quietly occupying a central place in Prince Jing’s entourage: He nudges Lie Zhanying to go join the hunt. He instructs Tingsheng, both in his tent and has Fei Liu ride with him. Yan Yujin complains that MCS’s never taught him anything, but reminisces that on his first hunt, he was taught by Lin Shu. On a superficial note, I thought MCS looked quite handsome in that deep purple outfit with a cape. A shame that it’s the only scene he wears it!
Prince Ji having a keen moment of recognition when he sees Tingsheng…
The only thing missing that would have made the hunt perfect is Foya, a wolf that Prince Jing raised and, of course, recognized MCS immediately. The production team brought along a great big Tibetan mastiff, but it wouldn’t play along with their instructions no matter how much food they tried to ply him with. For the Foya chapter interlude:
And the youtube clip of their failed attempts to get Foya to pounce on MCS and cuddle:
Melka – I am laughing as I thought that MCS was in black. I went back and he was in purple outfit with a blue cape! I need new glasses.
In a way I am glad that the Foya arc was a failure based on their selection. That dog wanted nada to do with the whole affair. Fei Liu was supposed to wrestle him? LOL! If they had to use any dog why not pick a husky or a wolf-mix trained dog? That would have been more acceptable but the breed they selected just did not fit. The poor dear was hot as well.
I think if they got a better matching breed I may have enjoyed this arc because it did add tension.
Oh, for the longest time I thought MCS’s outfit was brown until I watched a higher quality video.
I agree about the dog choice, a floofy Tibetan mastiff really doesn’t capture the fierce and feral descriptions of Foya. But dogs! I probably would have been happy with the inclusion of any dog (with the exception of a strange pocket sized inbred breed).
We are now at the final strech of the show, aren’t we? About 10 episodes to go? Time flies…
So, my thoughts on these episodes:
-Of course MCS would defeat the poison. He must be the Chinese equivalent of Mithridates!
– Consort Jing is definitely the single most clever person around, second only to MCS. The way she manipulates the Emperor is amazing. I laughed out loud when he said something like “Well, you’re a woman” (in the sense of “silly you”). She has him like Chief Eunuch has him, and the poor guy thinks he’s the brainiest of them all!
– I actually felt sorry for Prince Yu. If it hadn’t been that fireworks factory plot, I could even say he’s a decent fellow-he certainly is not irrational and unfair towards his wife, like his father. That earned him some points, in my book.
-Cai Quan is ready for his own personal assault on the Winter Palace (sorry I do not know chinese history so that I could find the Chinese equivalent).
– I love it how the Emperor actually forces Jingyan to seek MCS ‘s help and advice. Also, Jingyan played his part impeccably this time, he really seemed not interested and even reluctant.
– This Spring Hunt sure looks like an important event.
– I loved Jing’s look during the discussions on new ministerial appointments. He reminded me of a bad student trying to look calm while interrogated by the teacher.
– I thought that the revelation about Prince Yu’s mother was a rather “cheap” plot device, if you understand what I mean, but at least Prince Yu is back on the game, and I like that.
– The Emperor repeating “you reap what you sow” sounded pretty ominous (for him).
– I loved the scene where Zheng tells the tale of the fall of the Chiyan army. It gave me Greek tragedy vibes, where important battles are always being presented like that, for obvious reasons. I am still a bit undecided on the Chiyan army though. I guess the part where they decimated a whole kingdom just made the 21st century me label them as genocidal deep in my subconscious. I won’t lie, there is a small part of me that kind of roots for Banruo and Prince Yu and their revenge for the Hua!
– It seems that this Spring Hunt will be equivalent to Jingrui ‘s birthday, a lot of things will happen. By the way, I wonder if Jingrui will reappear.
– Poor Tong Lu. But I am glad we may get an answer what this poison of the bitter flame is. Or did we already and I wasn’t paying attention?
– I loved Jingyan during his mother’s meeting with MCS. He knows something is off but cannot see what it is and looks absolutely perplexed!
I think your point (also echoed by Ele Nash, below) about the Hua tribe is well-taken. As I’m watching all this plotting, and the backstory being revealed, more than once it has occurred to me that with just the slightest tweak in framing, Banruo and her associates would be the protagonists of the show: brave rebels, remnants of a wronged people, driven underground but still consumed with their quest for retribution against the Evil Empire…dang! that’s this close to an actual description of them as they are in the show, isn’t it?
And really, it’s this close to an actual description of MCS and his associates, the main difference, I think, being that MCS and the whole Chiyan crew started from a position of internal to or part of the empire, rather than in some sense apart, or at least newly kinda-sorta assimilated, like the Hua.
The Hua’s internal positioning is different, but it’s definitely there and potentially more deadly for being so easily overlooked. Not only does it include Xia Jiang, but any number of servants throughout the palace, as we’ve seen with Xiao Xin and the maid that serves by the Empress.
Melka – I always thought if any HR department needed their prospective employees to take lie detector tests before employment then the Palace HR Dept. is that place.
Not just prospective employees, but I would recommend lie detector tests with their annual if not quarterly reviews, as well. Court dramas can be pretty over the top with how bribery, corruption, and murder run so rampant through Palace HR. Seriously, it’s a wonder anyone would want to work at the palace, where poor performance reviews are met with flogging and death.
I don’t think you choose to work in the Palace, these are all probably conscripts or indentured servants!
And seriously ouch, the fate of men chosen for this palace’s work.
Oh my BE – The small amount of research I have done on eunuchs was heartbreaking. To think the parents of small children allowed someone to castrate them in such a cruel and inhumane way. It makes one wonder just how bad the living conditions were to have that horrible option as a way out. So many young children died in this process.
It appears the relative power of the Eunuch palace class varied over the centuries, and there were some dynasties in which they actually ran the whole show and were greatly feared.
However, one thing we have not covered much is the rescue of Ting Sheng, Prince Qi’s son and Fei Liu’s playmate, from that inevitable fate by MCS and Jing.
BE – I believe his future is discussed in a later episode towards the end. That may be a great time to bring him up as his life continues in NIF2.
I’m guessing these were poor parents who had too many mouths to feed =(
Yes, @Natalia, so agree with you. I actually felt pretty sorry for Prince Yu and it was nice to see him be kind to his wife (esp as he later says the Empress had arranged the marriage, so definitely not a love match as such). And agree that all the juxtaposing of the Hua storyline, against the Chiyan Army storyline makes me not entirely side with one or the other. I’m sitting on a fence until I know if the Princesses Hua were conniving or not. If not, then their decimation is (to my mind) more terrible than the Chiyan Army – who were soldiers, after all, and as such “willing” to die for the Emperor’s cause. Whereas the Hua Tribe don’t strike me as a military operation but a people, so am assuming children and many innocents perished. I don’t think the Chiyan Army deserved their brutal end by any stretch, but my sympathy may err more to Banruo and Hua. Possibly. But, for the sake of our lovely Mei Changsu, I’ll stick on the fence for now 😊
There will be one more even shameless plot device coming, but at least the show writers did their requisite foreshadowing as who is Yu’s mama was planted in our collective brains a few episodes ago. And you gotta love her name.
Brilliant summation as always, kfangurl – and insightful comments from everyone. I definitely am not racing ahead on this show, not because I’m so virtuous (though I am, obv 😇) but because I miss so many subtleties watching it on my own and rely on you all to widen my understanding of the show, beyond the show itself even with @phl1rxd book references too! It’s such an absorbing way to spend my mid-week: Tuesday evenings, watching the three episodes and then Wednesday morning reading these posts – I LOVE IT!!! 😁 Thank you everyone.
I know there was some discussion last week about the villains in NIF and how nuanced they are, especially Prince Yu and – if you think of him as a villain, which I do, but I’ll get onto that – the Emperor himself. The play between the Emperor’s role in both the massacre of the Hua people and then the Chiyan Army and his own son, Prince Qi, is so nicely juxtaposed with Banruo (and now Prince Yu’s) vengeance as well as our remnants of the Chiyan Army and Prince Jing’s need to right the wrong against them.
These episodes play so well with these three strands, woven in history, intrinsically linked, and leading us to the crux of Nirvana in Fire: Who deserves to triumph? I’m particularly impressed with the way show has created each character’s agenda. None of them (not even our excellently expressive Xia Jiang) are acting evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil and I love that; they each believe they’re acting in their own best interests, serving their own ideals of what is right and true. It’s complicated, because (for example) Banruo’s truth is that her people were murdered by a ruthless army by order of the Emperor. Whereas (I assume) Mei Changsu believes he(? or at least his father general) killed the Hua Tribe to protect the security of Liang. At the same time, he also believes the injustice against the Chiyan army is down to this idea they were killed because of a lie – that they were wanting to oust the Emperor. And while the Emperor did sanction their deaths on that basis, he was of course led by Xia Jiang – and Xia Jiang’s motive was in fact, to avenge the massacre of the Hua Tribe which was undertaken by the Chiyan Army…
So, I guess in these ever decreasing circles of attack and revenge, it all comes back to the Emperor, and his marrying the Hua Princess, Prince Yu’s mama no less! How very soap opera 😉 Was this Hua Princess really betrayed by the Emperor or was she actually colluding with the enemy? I feel like the answer to that could go either way as I don’t entirely trust (given Xia Jiang’s, um, intimate relationship with the other Hua Princess and his duplicitous ways) that they weren’t up to something. And we all know by now, ‘something’ doesn’t have to be much to rouse the Emperor’s suspicions and his wrath.
Anyho, I put it to you, dear viewer, that the ultimate villain of our show is the Emperor – his ultra-suspicious nature and his lust for power. Reaping what you sow? Yes, yes, the Emperor (having ousted whoever came before him) is so suspicious everyone is secretly working to oust him too, he’s practically ousting himself 😊 How does Mama Jing keep massaging his shoulders? It makes me shudder every time. Side note: I found it exceptionally weird (as @Trent says below) that no one knew Prince Yu’s mama was a Hua Princess. It seems… unlikely. And also, that the Emperor (given how suspicious he is) isn’t more disturbed that his righthand man did know. How does he know, if the Emperor had succeeded in hiding it from everyone? I am confused on this point – and I see in the book, she wasn’t from the Hua Tribe. It may be then that this plot point will never make sense 🤔
And as a final note, did anyone else feel as apprehensive as Mei Changsu looked when called into Mama Jing’s tent? Given he already suspected she’d guessed he’s Lin Shu (what with those nut-free food hampers) he must have been quaking she’d maybe – in her (as we’ve sometimes seen) jolted state – let slip to Jingy his true identity. She still might, but I’ve faith in mama Jing. I also reckon (with her excellent medical knowledge) she’s on her way to guessing he’s consumed the Bitter (cold – thanks @Trent!) Fire poison in order to survive in his chilled, altered state. I mean, even Banruo and Prince Yu know now that Mei Changsu has consumed the Bitter Fire poison. How long will it take them to figure out why? Also, how long before Xia Jiang gets wind of it. Eek! I feel like Mei Changsu’s identity is fast approaching exposure… 😱
I get your point Ele; the Emperor, is indeed, a villain, and possibly THE villain, all things considered.
It all seems to come back to him and the betrayals he committed in order to grab the throne…
“You reap what you sow”, indeed!
The Emperor is quite a piece of work! It seems like everything would have been different with a different person on the throne…
He sort of seems OK on the surface, but then every decision, past and present, is based on that surface, nothing deeper, only protecting his veneer of control over Liang. Sod the people, the army, his own sons. If it looks OK, it is OK. If it doesn’t, then death is coming 🙄
Yup! Cannot agree more, and it’s so fascinating to look back at the earlier episodes with this in mind…
Yes, I think (given lots on here have watched NIF multiple times) it’s the kind of show that requires another viewing once you know the ending to go back and be like, oh, I didn’t notice that clue, or that nuance, or that double-meaning! Once we finish this group watch, I may well go back and rewatch with a keener eye. As this is my first watch, I do feel pretty blind. I no longer say Meng-like confused because Commander Meng in these episodes seemed pretty smart and savage and less on my who-what-where-why wavelength 😜
@Ele Nash: It is a very rewarding second watch, especially in concert with so many here, starting with K’s amazingly easy to follow posts and phl1rxd’s voluminous apocrypha. As I noted last time, show producers should cover all of K’s tech expenses for a year to give this its proper award, not to mention consider making phl1rxd a serious offer as drama media guide for English speakers.
Ele – I fourth that! I totally agree that the Emperor is the ultimate villain.
One time Jing mom was massaging the Emperor’s thigh. Ick!
All this massage really annoys me too, but from a very different point of view: it seems as fake as Gong Yu’s musical skills!
Elaine – I thought the same when she did that. I think she probably looks upon it as treating a patient.
@Elaine – Ick! 😂😂😂 I concur!
Oh my gosh, you ladies! Massaging his thigh? The woman is doing the deed with the fellow! Um Prince Jing, ex 1 if you need it, not to mention nap time. This little poking her thumb to see if it’s sufficiently baked or not. Uour like little kids going yccch at the thought of mom & dad,
Yes I know the character is doing the dirty with the Emperor, 😂but the ick for me was having the actress for real massaging his thigh instead of his shoulders and arms.
Yes but the actor having his thigh poked at while performing, seriously, and yet the 2 of them appear entirely nonchalant—nothing to see here—while she is either prying one secret or another out of hom, manipulating him this way or that, and he is mansplaining the political realities of the court to her as if she were a well intentioned not all that bright child. That massage business so itonic from a dramatic pov.
Ep 40 Prince Jing to Xia Jiang: “I am reckless by nature. I do not think before I act “ 😀
Ep 41 Looks like Xia Jiang is on the way out, Like Xie Yu before him. And Prince Yu is getting ready for a resurgence.
Ep 42 Nice to get out of the city and go hunting. The scene with Consort Jing meeting Mei Changsu was electric!
Joe – the scene where MCS meets Jingmom is my favorite scene of the entire drama.
Easily, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.
Jing to XJ playing on his reputation and what XJ repeatedly claims about him. More there, there to Jing than meets XJ’s eyes no doubt.
FWIW – On the Wujin Pill and whether or not MCS might have switched the poison pill for another. I believe that the conversation below is a MCS ‘truth diversion’. I say this because the novel (and drama) literally take you through the Wujin pill getting shoved down MCS’ throat by Xia Jiang. I personally think that MCS knew that Poison of the Bitter Flame would negate any poison and he just misled everyone below as he did not want anyone to worry. MCS is such a good liar…😉
I thought I should post it. (note the novel events timing is slightly different from the drama but MCS has just awoken from his sickness bout following the Prison incident):
….Meng Zhi had a question he wasn’t able to ask earlier, and took this opportunity to ask it. “Mister Su, has the poison cleared from your body?”
Prince Jing said in alarm, “What poison?”
Mei Changsu blinked and followed suit, “What poison?”
“Don’t pretend. When I delivered Xia Dong to Sky Prison, she said that Xia Jiang forced you to take the lethal Wujin pill!”
“Oh,” Mei Changsu shook his head nonchalantly, “I wasn’t poisoned.”
“You don’t need to hide it from us. Xia Dong said she saw with her own eyes……..”
“What she saw was Xia Jiang giving me the Wujin pill, me dropping the pill on the floor, and Xia Jiang picking it up from the floor and forcing me to consume it. That’s all.” Mei Changsu smiled craftily. “I’ve really not been poisoned. If I had known that Xia Jiang had such a Wujin pill and was still tricked by him, then that would have been really foolish of me.”
Prince Jing and Meng Zhi looked at each other, understanding his meaning. They laughed in relief, but after a while, they couldn’t help feeling some lingering fear.
Again, much gratitude for all the hard work done by the translators of the novel and for allowing this to be posted with a link back!
Yes, after the reveal that it was the Bitter Flames Poison that had overcome the Wujin pill, I just kind of assumed that MCS had already been filled in by Lin Chen about some of the properties of the poison, and probably had a pretty good idea, if not outright knew, what effect it would have against Xia Jiang’s pill.
Trent – Lin Chen was a very renowned and knowledgeable physician and his father even more so. He is probably on Langya Hall’s List of Top Docs.
With all these characters coming in and out of the plot, I actually had to google search Lin Chen…
Thanks K for another clear as a mountain spring review. How do you do it?
So as the curtain rises on the third season, the initial two episodes as true with the first two seasons starts slow, and as in the case of the second season, begins with our most recent villain in the dungeon.
In Hamlet, another drama of court intrigue, we meet a grave digger who serves the play as the “voice of the people,” a small counter weight to the overwhelming focus on the royal family, the ministers, the distant enemies, and so on. It strikes me that one of Minister Cai Quan’s functions in this is be such a voice of the people. While the drama of show is overwhelmingly devoted to the personalities of the court, it is Cai Quan who serves as a kind of chorus for us, the audience, who at times must look askance at the lot of these plotters, among whom even the best hardly seem to show a conscience when it comes to the casual slaughter of innocent civilians. I find it interesting, too, that Minister Shen proffers a counterweight to Cai, by raising this very query, is one to throw up one’s hands in despair at oppressive governance, or make it one’s responsibility even working with and under such rule, to do one’s best to make things better even if that means swallowing a sword now and then. This is such an age old question. In the Tang Dynasty during the years of rebellion, it is hard to say among many famous men of letters whether they served scoundrels because they believed as Shen did, better to mitigate evil than do nothing, or were accomplices in the horrors wreaked upon the populace as a result.
Watching both Consort Jing with the Emperor and then Jing with the Emperor we can see the family resemblance. Once again, for all the stubborn and passionate Jing is supposed to be, which in my view is really more the heroic necessary to a great man of war, Jing like his mother can play the Emperor like a fiddle by feigning innocence while all the while moving him towards their will. However, I must admit, the first time I have seen a real advantage to Jing’s ignorance of Mei Chang Su’s identity does arise when the Emperor speaks of Xia Jiang saying that Mei Chang Su had confessed to being a part of Prince Qi’s court. That ignorance does provide a kind of relaxed response from Jing in which he can without thinking say, never saw him there. Of course, I do believe Jing could have poker faced his way through that as he has when telling Big Daddy, “Mei Chang Su? Hardly know the guy.”
I did get a kick out of Jing and Meng taking it to Xia Jiang. Even if Xia Jiang never backed down, they did get him riled, and in a way Xia Jiang when he was holding the secret choke hold advantage was never able with Mei Chang Su. And I just loved the one on one with (c’mon put some respect behind his name) Meng just taking it and mentally taking it, willfully taking it, chi wise taking it to Xia Jiang, and that side eye when asked if Mei Chang Su had really, really, how could this happen, survived the Wujin poison, and Meng’s “if he hadn’t punk, you’d be a bunch of dungeon rat droppings by now,” sending Xia Jiang back up against the wall as surely has his finger flick had knocked out a glass lamp when XJ had MCS in the inquisition room at his compound. Boom you two bit lying dog of a scoundrel, this is a man that is considerably up the ladder from you on that Lang List of powerhouses.
Man and Victor Huang in Ep 42. We are watching some serious classically trained theater performance here.
But I would like to propose a possible counter interpretation about all these events. Let’s say, the problem with Emp and Linglong starts when the Hua does not help out with the Da Yu, aka the northern barbarians with the bad ash army in the way of establishing Liang as a stable empire, having their own ideas about hegemony, including marrying the emperor, But when the Emperor was chafed, Linglang, whom Emperor complains to Gao Zhan became a zealot, was part of a rebellion against Emp, and that is why Chiyan were ordered to bring them down. That is, oh ho, the Chiyan actually put Emperor on the throne first by defeating the Hua, and then as we learn, in the convo between Jing and Wei Zheng, also at some cost defeated the Da Yu, thus the Emperor’s betrayal doubly horrific. I do not think it is spelled out one way or another actually in show, and so wonder what the book says.
From this perspective, one tends to take the Emperor’s discussion with Gao Zhen far more on face value; that is, while cautious, he really was seriously considering making Yu the heir, especially since first CP is such a schlump, let’s face it. And thus, when thinking about each other, show provides an amazing amount of dramatic irony in that if this is the case, both Emperor and Yu, are in fact very much alike in their misreading of one another. That is as Yu says, whatever manipulation he was pulling he had been faithful to the Emperor who being the suspicious sob he is hardly at this point thinks that of him. And Yu’s tragic realization that he has only been used by the Emperor and was a preordained loser in the heir to the crown game also is a mis take of reality, and that renders Yu’s tragic performance even more tragic. And perhaps, in this misunderstanding, we can see the possible tragic flaws of both being the doors to break open the whole show once and for all.
Everything has been leading to the Spring Hunt, and as 42 arises we are at the spring hunt, and part one of the Consort Jing/Mei Chang Su interview, witnessing, perhaps for only the second time in show, Consort Jing begin to lose her composure. Last time it was from anger with Lady in Waiting Double X nattering on in front of Jing, this time it appears with concern for a man who once thought of her as her auntie.
What an excellent comment BE! 🏆🧨💥
Especially this: …is one to throw up one’s hands in despair at oppressive governance, or make it one’s responsibility even working with and under such rule, to do one’s best to make things better even if that means swallowing a sword now and then. This is such an age old question. I might add this is a dilemna we are pondering even today…
As to the Hu and Da Yu – researching this now and also the Prince Yu/Mom issue. If I am not mistaken, in the novel Banruo does not appear in the prison so I gotta backtrack, sidetrack and front track on this so bear with me while I go through my 275 pages of notes 🧐🙄😏
Please do as show seemed to indicate that Linglong’s marriage to the emperor was predicated on Hu help v Da Yu, help that never came, which logically might appear to be a betrayal of a pretty high order, especially given (lift your glass) the Emperor’s suspicious nature–and certainly in that court we can obviously say even paranoids have their enemies. Linglong, whom Emperor calls a zealot, part then of the Hu army, sounds a bit like treason to me, but without knowing which is it, chicken or egg, hard to tell. And if so, then Chiyan defeat of Hu, especially since all we know of them really is the nihilistic Banruo and her shiffu’s paramour, take no prisoners Xia Jiang (ahem who set up the Chiyan at the northern border?). I would rather that the Chiyan appear a bit less equally guilty as the others involved, since they have my pov on their side, but still would like to know how it is played in the novel.
And of course the Emperor is the final piece of the puzzle. S’what everyone agrees upon now. But like Yu, they are quite alike, he is no one dimensional scoundrel vis a vis the Xia boys.
I pulled over the entire novel (along with every source link as that is most important) and my ‘find’ key is getting a real workout. This is probably going to be in an older chapter as this happened so long ago. To be honest BE – when I first watched this drama I confused Meiling with the Hua incident but figured it out on watch 2.
Now to find, find, find and I will get back to you…
First let’s go along with the drama version. I am trying not to confuse first time viewers who can basically ignore this comment. BE, I am putting a spoiler on this to be sure.
Chapter 106: Fourth Sister smiled bitterly… “It has been more than thirty years since our Hua nation was destroyed, and the pain of genocide is not one you nor I experienced first-hand, but rather only one which we inherited from Shifu….
…“Back when our Hua nation had its own country, of course we had no choice but to fight for survival. But we were first invaded by Da Liang, and then taken over by Da Yu, and despite all our best efforts, we could not preserve even a single line of the imperial clan. Finally, Da Liang seized on claims of rebellion as a pretext to wipe out our entire nation…..
….Qin Banruo shook her head. “Though it was the Chiyan Army that exterminated the Hua nation, the origin of the hatred that drove this genocide can only be laid at the feet of the imperial household of Da Liang... Source
Chapter 154: “Changsu,” Lin Chen leaned forward, half laughing half asking, “I would like to ask, after Prince Jing comes to power, how do you intend to handle the Hua nation? …
…Mei Changsu sneered, his tone so cold as if it would penetrate deep into the bone, “I admire their aspirations to restore their country, but I won’t be lenient just because of this. When Father Commander eliminated Hua back then, it was based on the circumstances at that time. [no further explanation given]”… Source
Out of 517,566 words in the novel, the above is everything I could find on Hua and their elimination. Note that as Trent points out – here is where the novel deviates from the drama, as Prince Yu being Longlong’s son was only written for the drama. So these two blurbs, while they have some novel significance, can only go so far in relation to your drama question. I prefer the drama version and Fangurl’s Mom nailed the explanation.
Thanks phl1rxd, you really went out of your way on my behalf.
Okay, so still, i do not think Emperor was lying to Gao Zhen when he averred that he had in fact previously preferred Yu as his heir, and going a step farther cut Yu a bunch of slack over the years as a result.
While we recognize Emperor is the last pin to fall and the biggest in MCS’ quest for justice, I have to say Ding Yong Dai’s portrayal of the Emperor displays real complexity, at times a compassionate understanding of human foible, albeit he is certainly obtuse when it comes to women, and unlike all the other villains some sense of being haunted by what he had done in the past in service of his ascension.
I believe up till this recent one-two tipped the scales against Yu, the Emperor most certainly preferred him to all the rest of the Princes. And I will go one step farther, I think we also do not feel his villainy as much as we might because we are constantly noticing how he has to thread the needle of governance among all the contending court and palace factions.
BE – no hay problemo! I actually have made my own research easier by pulling the book over. So sorry I could not answer as you may have expected.
Thank you for the last comment on the Emperor as it makes for great discussion on the complexity of his character.
Yes BE, Ding Yong Dai is downright masterful in this role. From his quirky little grunts to his suspicious anger outbursts, he just nails this character and makes it his own. The character gets better with each episode.
As for the Emperor – we have seen him be concerned for the people (the Land Infringement Case e.g.) and we have seen make the most awful of decisions (Meiling, Prince Qi e.g.). FWIW – the novel makes him just a little bit more sympathetic.
I agree with you that his conscience bothers him (Consort Chen’s memorial tablet, his nightmares) and he fears the mention of the Meiling incident and Prince Qi because on some level he knows he was dead wrong not to require further investigation.
I personally feel that the Emperor’s insecurity is his biggest weakness and the foundation of all his bad decisions. His suspicions, triggered by his insecurities, cause him to make irrational choices.
I am curious to see how he was raised to respond to a basic moral dilemma. As a royal prince I would think that he must have had enough teaching as he was growing up to know the difference between right and wrong. However, the bottom line is what are you going to do when push comes to shove?
I can say this (with relief) as I am not in that position where one decision I make could affect millions of lives. The karmic responsibility is enormous.
I can feel for his character to a degree, but I feel he is the main villain in this story. He sadly turned his back on those who were 100% dedicated to him and the country and his decisions helped slaughter them as well. The buck stopped with him regardless of other’s actions.
The good thing is that from every negative a positive always emerges – MCS is actually doing him a favor by attempting to rectify his wrongs, make him face these issues and fix them (as much as they can possibly be fixed). It would be a painful emotional growth, but growth nonetheless. He could be freed from some of his demons and live with a little more peace in his heart.
Heavy the head that wears the crown. Fear that for Jing more than his passionate desire to live ethically and with loyalty.
The best rulers have blood on their hands.
A why of democracy should be everyone shares that burden.
Yowza at genocide. But at the very least it looks like the women and children were brought to Da Liang as slaves and then later assimilated with the population? Considering Xiao Xin was just a kid when she started working at the Palace. Also Xia Jiang’s wife took pity on Princess Xuanji who was working as a a servant.
The thing that puzzles me is where and how Ling long had a kid (Prince Yu) and then somehow went back to Hua to fight. Normally concubines of the Emperor are kept cloistered in the Inner Palace so they won’t be sullied by other men (that’s why all the men who serve in the Inner Palace are eunuchs). Yet the Empress said the Emperor kept Yus mother outside the Palace. Maybe he exterminated everyone who worked at the outside house who knew the secret, only Gao Zhan his right hand man was trusted with the secret.
@Elaine From what I understood of the situation, the Emperor took Linglong as a concubine before he ascended the throne, and that’s how he could keep her outside the palace. Later, when he’d exterminated the Hua Tribe, he brought Prince Yu into the palace, and the Empress adopted him.
That was perfectly stated Fangurl! You somehow manage to wrap things up so nice and neat and even put a bow on top for us.
Thank you for the explanation! Brief and chilling…
Phl1rxd, thanks for clearing this up. As a first time viewer, I think it is pretty clarifying. And yes, as Elaine has already mentioned, this feels genocidal, even though some women and children might have been spared for the known reasons – but let’s remember, this was common practice back then, even though it seems horrid now.
Everything about your comment is awesome, BE.
Such a marked difference from his first intro! And again, fantastically plotted character development. He’s always been able to play the game, it’s his stubborn pride and unyielding defense of his bro and best friend that stopped him.
It definitely goes without saying, that the story would have been really quite fascinating if either of the Hua princesses were still around. Would they have set aside past grievances and joined forces with MCS? Or opposed one another?
I’d love that too (that the Hua princess or princesses were still around), but I think that would require at least 10 more episodes!
I’m with you, I had a total “Eureka!! I never thought of that!” moment when the solution to the mystery of why MCS didn’t die from the poison pill was revealed to be because it was swallowed up by the Poison of Bitter Flames (they have such portentously descriptive names for things, sometimes!)
(digression time: I went and looked it up, and the actual name of the poison (fictional, made up for this story) is 火寒之毒 huo han zhi du; that “han” is literally “cold” or “winter”, so the “bitter” of the translation is derived from the sense of bitter cold, I’m guessing. The baidu entry on the poison (yes, there is a separate entry) says it is “the most amazing poison in the world, because it can both save one’s life, as well as steal it away.” So perhaps that opposing duality (save/steal(kill)) is reflected in the name itself: flames/cold. (be careful if you read that entry; you’ll inadvertently spoil yourself…I mostly managed to avoid spoilers for later in the show, once I realized what it was saying, but…)).
A big thought I had that I had been mulling previously and that was re-sparked here, with the big reveal that Prince Yu’s mother was a princess of the Hua tribe (滑族), was that we now have a couple of examples of mass killings in the recent history of the show: the wiping out of the Chiyan army, and also the wiping out of the Hua people. In both cases I think there’s some indication that there were stragglers who survived (I mean Banruo and 4th sister, as obvious examples), but still it’s kind of amazing in a terrible sort of way that the Hua have been so comprehensively removed from official imperial history that seemingly no one knows that one of the Emperor’s early consorts/concubines was a Hua princess and that Prince Yu is half Hua. No one has been around to whisper a word of it to the prince himself. It’s…kind of amazing to me.
(Ditto with the Chiyan situation. Obviously we have a whole underground group coalesced around MCS and probably out in the Jianghu world and the outer provinces, there are various survivors and others who know the story, laying low; but any countervailing narrative or rumor is completely absent from official history–understandable, given Xia Jiang’s power and more importantly the Emperor’s complicity in and support for the whole episode, but wow, talk about the power of official propaganda…).
Another interesting sort-of tangent, now that we’re talking about Prince Yu. His baidu entry notes that his background in the novel is somewhat different than in the drama: “In the novel, Xiao Jingxuan [Prince Yu]’s birth mother Xiang Pin has no relationship to the Hua tribe, and moreover is not Princess Linglong. When the drama was adapted for television, perhaps in order to increase dramatic conflict, the two characters were merged, and a few relevant plot points added in…” (The rest of the entry gives a concrete example of the heightened dramatic conflict, which is spoilery for the next several episodes, so..) Is this a divergence that you noticed, @phl1rxd, when you were reading the novel?
(Yes, I have sinned. After the rising drama of this set of episodes, I could no longer resist, and I had to watch a few episodes ahead before I could restrain myself again. Sorry).
Your sins are forgiven Trent – if this was my first watch I would not have been able to keep myself from binging straight through.
I am bit behind today so give me a few and I promise I will respond to the divergence issue…
@Trent, you are not the only one who could not resist watching the next set of episodes.
My first thought upon finishing Ep 42 was “Let’s do another group post/chat this Friday so we can zoom ahead into the action.” Whatta you think, KFG? 😆
Second thought, “Maybe I’ll just take a peak at Ep 43 now…” 😂
Ah, the pace as it is, is quite fine. And trust me, what happens next will be no less dramatic if we all wait and roll these three around in our collective mouths for another week.
@BE – can you please post that beautiful family tree as the spoiler in it has been revealed? Big thanks! It is the best online family tree reference out there.
Alas, I have it open in a tab on my desktop, but it’s in the office, so no access until tomorrow morning…
Please do it for me Trent, as I have misplaced it.
Okay, I just googled it on my mobile, and this is the one I’ve been using, I think it’s the one that was posted earlier:
Yay – that is it and what a fine piece of work it is – thanks so much BE and Trent! 💖 It is now safe to study as we now know who Prince Yu’s real mother is.
But I would counsel those consulting to notice whom is not whose daughter, but merely a disciple as noted in this tree. Sorry about that, but…
I see that BE – I think the poor person designing this ran out of space on his left and therefore it does appear that way but disciple/s, yes. Thanks for pointing that out.
I have to laugh as I thought of your venn diagram comment a while back. That sir, would take a lot of thought and a humongous file.
Well media guide extraordinaire, you tell me where to put it, and I will tell you who to call.
Clarifying the above to state “It is now safe to study as we now know who Prince Yu’s real mother is in the drama.”
Wow, I haven’t seen that. Whoever did this, surely worked hard!
Still, seeing this makes me wonder: so the Emperor has one brother, Ji, who’s the happy-go-lucky fella we all know, and two sisters (one deceased). Who did he have to fight to get the throne? Has it been explained earlier on and I completely forgot it? (Like I had to google Lin Chen to remember who that was…)
I’m sure there were other princes he had to fight to get to the throne, maybe this family is talking about who is in the show…
Trent, thanks for clarifying that this whole secret mother thing was something that is not in the novels but was made up for the show – to be honest, I thought it was not such a great plot device, it feels soapy and leaves too many questions unanswered. Still, as I said before, it gets Prince Yu back on the game, and I am glad for that!
Look at it this way: could it really be said to be a top-rank drama if it didn’t have at least one or two birth-secret reveals waiting for us?
(I’d throw Jingrui in there as well, as we find out dear ol’ dad was actually the Playa Prince from Southern Chu…)
By the way, I wonder if we’ll ever get to see Jingrui again; bringing him back begins to feel irrelevant…
That’s the problem with this show, too many interesting characters and side plots, too little time.
Fear not Natalia. I will say no more.
I’ve been wondering the same thing…
More broadly, it’s interesting how the show in general has no compunction about just dropping relatively major characters out of the narrative for a few episodes if it seems to suit the story–Nihuang, for instance, heads off to “guard the grand dowager’s tomb” for a year of story time, equivalent to a number of episodes–something that seems less familiar to a U.S. drama that would be committed to ensuring the big-name talent it’s paying for gets consistent “face time” on the screen.
Nihuang’s character was also much more minor in the novel. So there’s only so much they can invent for her. The guy who takes the cake for a disappearing act is Lin Chen, who was so dramatically introduced in the first episode and still isn’t back yet. And he’s a fan favorite to boot! >_<
In all honesty, I appreciate NiF’s narrative structure, leaving out characters that aren’t immediately necessary for the current plot and picking them up when it fits. I’ve seen way too many dramas that invent random side stories for side characters that just feel like padding.
True, but I do miss Nihuang! I’d have liked her to at least have had a moment to stroke Mei Changsu’s fevered / freezing brow…
My question Ele: what does Ms. Nihuang do for a living? Just asking.
Of course you did. I think about four weeks ago one day I watched straight on through 43. But then each week back tracked to watch what was up for discussion.
@Trent – after combing forward through chapters and all my notes I can attest that there is a divergence on the issue of Prince Yu’s mother – you are correct. I can also say that the novel and the drama start to differ a little more as we move further along. I cannot say more due to what is to come.
At least we can find solace in that the original author herself penned those differences. In looking at novel versus drama, there are some parts that are just ‘better’ in each version. I have been trying very hard not to post too many differences to avoid those already confused with just understanding the drama. Having experienced both, I will say that watching the drama should go before reading the novel.
I prefer the drama version of Prince Yu’s story because it adds a layer of pathos to his entire story. Fangurl and Mom spell out the drama version perfectly above and their explanation adds even more depth.
Cool, thanks for looking and confirming.
As I mentioned, that baidu entry on Prince Yu gives a concrete example of how perhaps adding the Hua parentage twist heightens dramatic interest to Prince Yu’s story, but the details are a spoiler for something that happens in the next several episodes. Maybe once we reach that point I can mention it again…
The plot thickens! (Not that it wasn’t quite thick already). The revelation of Prince Yu’s mother’s identity was totally unexpected, and yet I remember him discussing his mother a couple of episodes back. The plotting of this show is impressive. No revelation comes completely out of the blue, and yet the reveals are still surprising.
Now that Prince Yu has gone rogue and unhinged, The Spring Hunt is shaping to be another Big Event.