Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Today we have Jingyan headlining our post, because, doesn’t he look so regal, as he walks in for his coronation? 🤩
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! ❤️
Y’know, based on the situation and the accumulation of the various pieces of evidence, I’d been so sure (like, 90% sure) that we were on the cusp of a Jingyan-Xiao Shu reunion, at the end of the last episode, but as it turns out, Jingyan’s suspicions have been deflected for another day.
I feel so bad for Jingyan, whose mind is basically imploding from trying to reconcile everything in his head, in a way that makes sense. I mean, he even talks about having the completely illogical thought, that Mei Changsu is actually Xiao Shu, in the middle of the night, while he’s supposed to be sleeping.
This is where instincts and logic clash, because while his instinct is exactly right, the logical pieces don’t add up. Not only does Mei Changsu look nothing like Xiao Shu, there are such stark differences in their health and temperament, plus, there’s the thing where Mei Changsu’s and Noble Consort Jing’s stories line up so well, that there’s no room for Jingyan to question things any further. Poor, frustrated Jingyan. I think he viscerally knows something’s up, and that Mom and Mei Changsu are keeping something from him; he’s just stuck, in terms of finding his way to the truth.
On the upside, at least Nihuang finds a confidante in Noble Consort Jing.
It hadn’t occurred to me, until this scene with Noble Consort Jing, that it’s been hard for Nihuang to keep Mei Changsu’s secret to herself, and deal with the implications of his poor health, on her own. At least now, she can talk about it with Noble Consort Jing. That in itself is cathartic, I think.
This episode, with Grand Prince Ji’s conversation with the Emperor, I’m reminded all over again, of my mom’s belief, that he’s actually quite terrified of the Emperor. He does look extremely uncomfortable when the Emperor asks his opinion on the matter regarding succession to the throne. And, his nervous haste, in brushing off any potential hint of interest on his part, towards the throne, says a lot.
It does corroborate my mom’s theory, that the Emperor had likely killed at least a brother or two, in order to secure the throne. Grand Prince Ji had likely been spared, not only because he’s the Emperor’s younger brother and therefore not technically in the way of his brother’s ambition for the throne at the time, but also, because of his chosen public image, of being too interested in food, wine and music, to be at all interested in becoming Emperor – and therefore not likely to raise a revolt at any time.
Clearly, even though that’s served him pretty well all these years, Grand Prince Ji still doesn’t feel very safe, when talking with the Emperor about this topic.
It’s worth noting, I feel, that this is the first time the Emperor has expressed that he’s considering Jingyan as a potential successor. That’s a big deal, especially considering where we’d started, with Jingyan as the least favored prince.
What an interesting reveal, via Mei Changsu’s conversation with Grand Prince Ji, that Grand Prince Ji had been the one to save Tingsheng, when things had gone south for the Qi household. That’s.. a little unexpected, given Grand Prince Ji’s reputation for not being involved in matters of the court. This gives us a glimpse, I think, into Grand Prince Ji’s true nature, underneath the carefree, laidback public image that he projects.
Also, there’s quite a strong flavor of poetic justice to the scene where it’s Consort Hui who gets to relay the decree announcing the Empress’s deposition. All these years, the Empress has bullied Consort Hui and made life difficult for her. Now, I can only imagine the catharsis Consort Hui must be getting, from this opportunity to deliver the biggest blow that the Empress will receive in her life.
I do have to credit Consort Hui, though, for carrying out the task with only a very slight sense of sternness. She’s mostly gracious, and doesn’t take the opportunity to gloat, which I feel like most people would have done. No wonder she and Noble Consort Jing get along.
I find it fascinating that in Prince Yu’s conversation with Mei Changsu, when Mei Changsu visits him in prison, he tells Mei Changsu that the most satisfying thing he’s done in his life, is to surround Jiu Ah Mountain. The phrase he uses is “破釜沉舟” (“pòfǔchénzhōu”), which literally refers to the act of sinking one’s boats after crossing the river, ie, without leaving any means of retreat.
I hypothesize that Prince Yu found it completely satisfying, because he was finally not holding himself back, and acting in full accordance to his own will and desires. And now that he’s failed, he has no regrets, despite it meaning his death.
His comparison of his situation to that of Prince Qi’s, however, brings out a contempt and fury that we haven’t yet seen in Mei Changsu. That righteous indignation, as Mei Changsu bites out that Prince Yu is nothing like Prince Qi, is so compelling. And Mei Changsu is right; Prince Yu never does find out who he is, in his lifetime, since Prince Yu commits suicide soon after this conversation.
One thing that does make Prince Yu slightly more noble than the other villains we have in our story, is how he gives up his life in the hope of saving his wife and unborn child. That’s something I hadn’t quite expected of him. Given that he had so little wiggle room in his situation, he really did do everything in his power, to protect his wife and child.
How forward thinking of Mei Changsu, to have Prince Yu’s wife rescued from the prison, to be whisked away to live a normal life as a commoner.
Ahh. So her suicide had been a cover story, so that they could swap her out with the body of a recently deceased female prisoner (whom the dialogue indicates had died of natural causes, so they didn’t, say, kill someone to take her place).
Mei Changsu is right; it would have hard for Prince Yu’s child to grow up in the Capital, with everyone knowing that his father was a traitor. It really is for the better, for mother and child to live as commoners, away from the complexities of court politics.
There’s quite a lot of stuff going on at this point in time, in our story world – Jingyan’s been named as the next Crown Prince, the selection for his Royal Consort is in full swing, and Mei Changsu’s working to arrange for Xia Dong and Nie Feng to meet, plus Xia Jiang’s on the run – but we’re told that separately, both Jingyan and Mei Changsu have appeared rather moody and troubled, after returning to the Capital from Jiu An Mountain.
Significantly, they both admit to being preoccupied with the same matter: they are both thinking about the Chiyan case, and how and when to revive it. How interesting, that even without prior discussion, they are so alike in where their thoughts and hearts flow. Ahh, these soulmates; I am so looking forward to the day when they’ll be reunited. 🥺
I’m intrigued by Gong Yu’s idea, to disguise herself as Xia Dong for a few days, so that Xia Dong can be smuggled out to meet with Nie Feng, at least for a while. Gong Yu really is quite talented, isn’t she? I’m wondering if this is just pure disguise, or if there’s some sort of magic to this, where she actually takes on Xia Dong’s likeness. Either way, I still feel that undercurrent of jealousy from Nihuang, especially at the part where Gong Yu says that she doesn’t mind suffering, if it’s for Mei Changsu’s sake. Ooh. Girl’s wearing her heart on her sleeve, whenever she has the chance, isn’t she?
How smart of Mei Changsu (of course), to deflect Gong Yu’s efforts as a favor to Nie Feng and Xia Dong, rather to himself.
I’m personally not really into the lighthearted tone that Show serves up around Lin Chen and his arrival; somehow, the lightheartedness doesn’t blend so well with the heavier stuff, in execution, at least to my eyes. I keep wanting Lin Chen to stop joking around, and attend seriously to the matter at hand. 😅
One thing that does strike me about Lin Chen’s conversation with Mei Changsu, is how Mei Changsu essentially articulates the thing that some of you guys have been discussing in recent threads; that to the Hua tribe, regaining their kingdom is the justice that they seek, and that with everyone on different sides, each with their own perspectives, it’s hard to determine who was right, in the end. Show doesn’t present a solution, but I’m glad that it acknowledges that all these will have to be considered by Jingyan, when he ascends the throne.
Speaking of whom, it’s such a milestone, that we get to see Jingyan receive the title of Crown Prince, this episode. It’s always felt like a distant possibility, that it’s quite startling to see it actually come to pass, in the now. It reminds me of how little time left we have, to our story. 😢
It really feels like the beginning of a new era, with the Emperor deciding that Jingyan should start to govern in his place, due to his ailing health. Perhaps the Emperor will regain some strength in future episodes, but for now, he does seem like a shadow of himself – a lot less intimidating than before, in my eyes.
In the meantime, Xia Jiang’s in hiding at the residence of a Minister Fan, and judging from their conversation, he plans to find an opportunity to speak with the Emperor, in order to reveal Mei Changsu’s identity (or what he believes to be Mei Changsu’s identity), which he believes would then derail all of Mei Changsu’s work, including the effort of making Jingyan Crown Prince.
I’m curious to know how Xia Jiang plans to gain an audience with the Emperor, especially given that he’s now a wanted criminal, and for treason, no less.
We also get news that Xie Yu has died – which means that the letter in Grand Princess Liyang’s possession can now be retrieved, and its contents, revealed. This is going to become important in future episodes, I’m sure. For now, Mei Changsu needs to wait for time to pass, so that news of Xie Yu’s death has time to reach the Capital. Ahh. Our Divine Talent always has a firm grasp of all the details.
The reunion between Xia Dong and Nie Feng is emotional and heartfelt; I definitely teared up, along with everyone else on my screen. As Nihuang says (poignantly, from experience I’m sure), it doesn’t matter what Nie Feng looks like now; it’s a happy thing in itself, for Xia Dong to be reunited with him.
With Lin Chen’s detailed explanation of the Poison of the Bitter Flame, we not only get a clearer idea of what Mei Changsu had suffered, through the process of being poisoned, to the process of being treated, the people around Mei Changsu also finally get insight into the fact that he does not have long to live. 💔 Oof.
This is such a painful realization for all, and especially for Nihuang, who has trusted and believed all this time, that all her Lin Shu Gege needed, was extra rest and care. I imagine that the dawning realization that she will eventually lose him again, must be so horrifying to her.
However, now that we know that the only other course of treatment available to Lin Shu, was to remain furry and without the ability to speak, I can see why he chose the harsher, more thorough treatment, that would afford him a normal appearance, and the ability to speak, even while it shortened his life. Given his burning desire to restore justice to his family as well as Prince Qi’s family, this was the only way he could have had even the shadow of a chance to do so. Still, what a price to pay. 😭
In light of this, it feels like a luxury, almost, that Nie Feng has the option to choose the less thorough treatment, with the knowledge that Xia Dong simply wants to be with him, even if it means that he won’t be able to speak.
I guess the thing about more and more people knowing Mei Changsu’s identity as Lin Shu, is that sooner or later, someone’s going to let it slip – which is exactly what happens, with Wei Zheng referring to Mei Chang Su as Young Marshal, when talking with Lin Chen. Xia Dong’s realization is so apparent, as her eyes grow as big as saucers. At this rate, I feel like it won’t be long before everyone else knows too.
Mei Changsu’s conversation with Commander Meng, about why he hadn’t told Commander Meng the truth, indirectly answers some of our questions, about why Mei Changsu hasn’t told Jingyan, all this time. He says that Commander Meng’s affection and friendship towards him has often been a burden; that if Commander Meng had known, there would have been many orders that he would not have followed.
I understand where Mei Changsu is coming from; it’s true that in the course of all that’s happened, there have been times when Mei Changsu had been put in danger, or had to suffer hardship. If Commander Meng had known that his friend Lin Shu, already frail from ill health, was not long for the world, I can imagine that he would not have agreed to certain plans. And I hypothesize that the same logic would apply to Jingyan as well.
However, I understand Commander Meng’s anguish as well. I feel like, on top of the shock of finding out that Mei Changsu is dying, there must be some level of guilt in there too, about not realizing what his friend is going through.
Nihuang’s response to her Lin Shu Gege is so heartwrenching; there is so much heartbreak in her eyes, as she asks him to tell her the truth about how much time he has left. And, while I understand Mei Changsu’s rationalization in terms of why he doesn’t tell her the truth (which he later articulates to Xia Dong), I’m actually gutted for Nihuang, that she now has the false belief that she still has 10 years left with him.
It already doesn’t sound like much, and yet, she unhesitatingly commits herself to those 10 years with him, not caring to think about herself, or what would become of her, after. She only cares about savoring the time that she does have, with him, and it’s.. gutting to know what she doesn’t; that the time she has left with her Lin Shu Gege is a fraction of what she thinks. 😭
Their embrace is so full of emotion, and in particular, I feel like I can practically see Mei Changsu’s heart breaking into pieces, with the lie that he’s told Nihuang. 💔
While I haven’t enjoyed Lin Chen’s flippancy too much since his arrival, I do appreciate him pointing out to Mei Changsu, that overturning the Chiyan case is not his responsibility alone; that Mei Changsu’s essentially taken on the weight of the world on his shoulders, and made himself responsible for everyone and everything, and that’s contributing to his deteriorating health.
That’s so true. This desire to overturn the Chiyan case is as much Jingyan’s desire as it is his, and I agree with Lin Chen, that Jingyan’s more capable of shouldering his burdens than Mei Changsu appears to give him credit for.
At the same time, I see Mei Changsu’s point, which he’d earlier made to Commander Meng, that overturning the Chiyan case is something that cannot wait until Jingyan ascends the throne; it would only be fully effective, if the case is overturned by the present Emperor. With the Emperor’s time on the throne apparently limited, given that he’s already asked Jingyan to start governing, I can see why there is a sense of urgency about this.
And of course, with Xia Jiang angling to take Mei Changsu and Jingyan down, that definitely complicates matters further.
I have to admit, I was quite puzzled at the contents of the secret letter, because I couldn’t figure out when Xia Jiang came to know that Mei Changsu is actually Lin Shu. Which is why I consulted my mom on this. Heh. It’s so helpful, to be able to consult Mom on this anytime I’m confused; she’s seen this show 6 times now, and basically has thought through everything already, on her various watches.
My mom’s analysis of the situation, is that Xia Jiang doesn’t actually know for sure that Mei Changsu is Lin Shu; this is just his best guess. And his best guess is mostly based on the fact that he knows Mei Changsu has been poisoned by the Poison of the Bitter Flame. That poison can only take effect in Meiling, because those snow bugs only live there. And, the Poison of the Bitter Flame can also only take effect under certain very specific conditions, where there’s snow and fire. This points to the fact that Mei Changsu had been there among the Chiyan Army, at the time of the massacre.
Add on the facts that, 1, Lin Shu’s body was never found, 2, Mei Changsu is as brilliant as Lin Shu was once known to be, and 3, Mei Changsu has a very specific belief that Prince Qi was framed, and a very specific agenda around that, and circumstantially, we can see why Xia Jiang would conclude that Mei Changsu is very likely Lin Shu himself. Especially since one treatment option for the Poison of the Bitter Flame involves a complete change in appearance.
I must say, as much as I dislike Concubine Yue, she really does know how to play her cards, when it comes to the Emperor. It’s no wonder she was such a favorite of his, for so long. 😏 She knows exactly the kind of pitiful act to put on, and she knows exactly what to say, and importantly, when to pull back, so that he not only becomes curious to hear what is contained in the letter, but commands her to speak its contents, even though those contents are considered taboo.
Also, she’s so shrewd in acting somewhat suspicious of the contents of the letter – which actually nudges the Emperor towards investigating the legitimacy of the Poison of the Bitter Flame. Plus, the Emperor even goes so far as to send a message to Xia Jiang, saying that he will give Xia Jiang a chance to defend himself, and if Xia Jiang’s words prove true, the Emperor’s prepared to pardon all the crimes committed by Xuanjing Bureau.
Wow. That’s huge. The Emperor had considered the Xuanjing Bureau’s transgressions unpardonable. But.. I suppose this is how important the Chiyan case is, to the Emperor.
How worrying, though, that Xia Jiang appears to have laid out a whole lot of plans to create chaos in Jinling, in and out of the Palace, whether he survives or not. Plus, he’s even given orders for certain individuals to be killed, at all costs. And, he’s setting the wheels in motion now, even before he gets to speak with the Emperor. Yikes. I guess we’ve got our Final Conflict in place, as we go into our next set of episodes? 😅