Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1-2 and 3-4 notes on Love Like The Galaxy [China], because I’m happily lapping this one up, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗
These are my episode 1-2 and 3-4 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).
I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1-2. The reason that I’ve been wanting to check out this show, and soon, is because it feels like almost everyone has been raving about this, lately.
When Show had first premiered, there had been some rumblings of dissatisfaction, along the lines of Wu Lei being too skinny, and Zhao Lu Si not having good enough diction for a period drama.
Since then, though, all the rumblings and grumblings have turned into murmurs of satisfaction and praise, which, YAY.
I’ve heard that Wu Lei’s character in this is wonderfully written and delivered, and I’ve seen some of the swoony scenes, and heard the squees.
So that’s definitely one of my reasons for checking this out; I certainly don’t want to miss watching Wu Lei being a swoony, smoldery male lead.
On top of that, I’ve also heard that Zhao Lu Si’s character is likable, which is always a plus. I mostly do need to like my characters, in order to want to watch them.
Additionally, I’ve heard people compare this show to The Story Of Minglan, for the family drama part of the story. And since I did enjoy The Story Of Minglan quite nicely, I count that a plus as well.
So far, two episodes in, it’s still early days yet, to say definitively that this is excellent and that I love it.
But, I will say that I like what I see, so far.
First of all, right away, I like the production values, and the sense of space and scale. It definitely doesn’t feel like we’re on some dinky production set.
Everything looks real, and it feels like there’s an entire world in front of our characters. On top of that, the costuming looks believable and authentic to the times, ie, none of that modern nylon fabric that cheaper productions tend to favor.
In terms of characters, even though we only catch a few glimpses of Wu Lei’s character Buyi so far, I like him.
He really does have a regal air about him, from the way he carries himself. And he’s got a stoic, intense sort of vibe that befits a general of his stature. Like, I can believe that this man successfully led thousands of soldiers to victory in war.
On top of that, I like that he’s smart, and quick on the uptake.
When Shaoshang (family pet name Niaoniao) gives him clues, this set of episodes, he’s able to understand her hidden meaning, and act accordingly.
I was most impressed with how he deciphered her cryptic gift of a small bundle of straw, with a few scraps of fabric, to indicate that the fabric store was involved in her uncle’s crime.
I’d had no idea what the gift had meant, but Buyi figures it out right away. I do like a smart leading man. And I also really like the idea that Buyi and Shaoshang are able to get on the same wavelength so naturally.
It’s the flip side of the same coin, when Buyi pronounces a few barbed praises about Shaoshang to her father. Shaoshang is quick to decipher the potential underlying meaning of those words of praise, and gets peeved right away.
We don’t see them really interact a great deal, in this initial set of episodes, but the way they are so swift to understand each other, bodes well for future communication, yes?
As for Shaoshang herself, I like that she’s quick-witted and scrappy, because that makes her interesting to watch.
At the same time, I haven’t made up my mind in terms of how right she is, in the various situations we see her in, this set of episodes.
While my sympathies are quick to go out to her, for being locked up in that house in the village and apparently starved to some degree, I don’t discount the possibility that she really has been aggravating to her grandmother and aunt, with her less than traditional sensibilities and way of looking at the world.
The thing that really brings me to see things from this more balanced perspective, is how Show portrays Shaoshang’s mother, Yuanyi.
For a start, I have to say that I really like Yuanyi, on sight.
I love that she’s a woman of arms; isn’t that just so badass?? Certainly, she’s not the first female warrior that I’ve come across in a Chinese drama, but it’s still pretty cool, that the Mom in this story, is a strong warrior type.
And, in line with that strong warrior characterization, I find it fascinating to watch Yuanyi make sense of the world around her, when she comes back to the family home after having spent 15 years away at war.
(On a side note, my subs keep saying 10 years, but the literal dialogue says “10 plus years” and since it is mentioned that they haven’t seen Shaoshang for 15 years, I’m going with 15 years.)
The way Yuanyi is so quick to be quietly observant of her surroundings, without making an immediate judgment, makes me like her right away. I like how she basically spends time collecting data for her analyses, before arriving at a hypothesis or conclusion.
She strikes me as a wise woman already.
That said, I do think that she’s a little impatient, when it comes to straightening out her daughter.
I get her sense of urgency, because in her estimation, with Shaoshang being of marriageable age, if she doesn’t get Shaoshang sorted out in terms of her manners and discipline, it would be too late, once she is married, and then she would end up being a burden to her husband.
However, she really could use some of her husband’s goodwill and patience, when it comes to dealing with Shaoshang.
They have been apart from their daughter for basically all of her life, so to come on strong on the discipline front, so soon after their long-awaited return, is surely not going to go down well.
But perhaps that’s why Mom and Dad are such a good match? They do complement each other very well, from what we’ve seen so far.
And I do love the detail, that Dad isn’t judgmental of Mom’s past (that this is her second marriage), and he’s unabashed about wanting her and no one else. Aw. That’s really sweet.
On the family front, it does get a bit much this set of episodes, with Gran putting on a big ol’ wailing show at the drop of a hat, but the silver lining is that Show treats it with a comic sort of touch, so we know that Show isn’t taking it too seriously, and doesn’t expect us to treat it too seriously either.
And, happily, by the end of episode 2, Gran seems to have come around to the error of her ways, and is tearfully repentant at how she hadn’t realized how much her son has suffered, all these years, while out on the battlefield.
That’s a good start, yes? I’m almost certain that Gran will find something else to wail about soon enough, but for now, I’m glad that this first bone of contention seems to have been sorted out.
What I’m curious to see more of, is how Buyi and Shaoshang are going to cross paths again (of course), since that’s the Main Event of this show, based on the title and the trailer.
On top of that, I’d also like to see how this estrangement between her and her parents gets healed, with time and patience. That should be heartening to witness too, I’m sure.
All in all, this was a pretty solid pair of opening episodes, and I’m looking forward to more, mostly because I’m pretty sure that things are going to get even better, from here on out.
E3-4. I am slightly disappointed that we don’t get any scenes with Buyi and Shaoshang sharing screen time this set of episodes, but I rationalize that we’re still in set-up, and with a long show like this (technically 56 episodes, if we add Parts 1 & 2 together), set-up could take anywhere from 8 to 12 episodes.
We do get a little more time with Buyi this set of episodes compared to our opening episodes, so I’ll count that a plus.
He’s still investigating the fake arms case, and we’re only given fragments of story around this, like how Shaoshang’s uncle had been bribed by Xu Jinzhong, who comes from a blacksmith family.
Honestly, though, I don’t really have much vested interest in the fake arms case, so the details aren’t super important to me right now.
I just like watching Buyi be intense and focused on my screen, and I like that we get to see all over again, how quick-witted he is.
Like in the way he’s able to deduce that there’s a secret room behind the figurine of Zhu Rong (god of fire, in ancient Chinese mythology – which is why iron smiths revere him).
So far, I have to admit, I’m finding Buyi rather hard to read.
What I mean is, I can’t figure out if he’s being sarcastic or serious, when it comes to Shaoshang.
Like in episode 1, when he’d said those words of praise about Shaoshang to her father. Shaoshang had interpreted them to mean that he was actually paying her a backhanded compliment, but I can’t help wondering if he’d been sincere in his praise.
And now, when he instructs that Shaoshang’s uncle be allowed to visit his family one last time before being banished, he says that it’s to repay her kindness for her assistance in the case.
But, as we see, the visit turns pretty ugly, and Uncle openly blames Shaoshang for his fate.
I can’t help but wonder if Buyi had known that this would happen, when he’d allowed the visit. And if so, then what his intention had been, in allowing the visit.
I’m sure we’ll come to understand him better as we go along, but for now, I do find him pretty cryptic.
On Shaoshang’s side of things, it seems that she spends this set of episodes becoming more and more convinced that her parents don’t truly care about her, and she doesn’t have anyone to depend on, in the world.
First, there’s the thing with Yuanyi’s dissatisfaction with Shaoshang’s poor reading abilities.
After getting to meet her parents for the first time, Shaoshang had hoped that she would finally have their protection and affection, after having been treated like an eyesore by her grandmother and aunt, all these years.
It must be rude shock for her, to find herself being consistently disciplined instead, particularly in areas that she really dislikes, like studying and reading.
From Yuanyi’s perspective, though, I can understand why she’d be so horrified at Shaoshang’s inability to read, given that they are not a family without means.
On a tangent, I thought it would be interesting for some of you, if I mentioned a bit about the Chinese language, at this point.
Unlike many other languages like English or Korean, there is no phonetic system in Chinese. In order to be able to read and write, you literally memorize each character, in terms of its strokes, pronunciation and meaning.
Every character is unique and therefore, to know 10,000 characters, you’d simply memorize 10,000 characters.
That’s why Shaoshang hates studying (you literally spend hours upon hours just memorizing), and that’s also why she’s so incapable of reading the scroll that Yuanyi puts in front of her.
There’s no phonetic system for her to fall back on, so she can’t even guess at the way the words are pronounced.
It actually makes sense to me that Shaoshang is unable to read much, because she hates studying. Based on her personality, I just can’t imagine her spending hours upon hours in rote learning, even with strict supervision.
Not that our girl isn’t smart, certainly.
When Uncle is home for his visit and lets slip that Gran had said something to him about how she’s treated Shaoshang, Shaoshang is quick to ask a probing question, which then leads to Uncle spilling all the beans – which then inform her parents of exactly how she’s been mistreated in their absence.
I thought that was pretty quick of her, to use the situation to her advantage.
And of course, there’s also that whole house thing at the end of episode 4, where I thought Shaoshang was very clever indeed, in how she read the situation, and then made a calculated move which ended up in Aunt’s removal from the family.
It’s true that the consequences are bigger than she’d anticipated, and it’s good that she admits as much to Yuanyi and promises to change. I’m just.. quite blown away by the fact that she could calculate that the family would end up moving soon, and why.
In this sense, I do feel like Show is somewhat similar to The Story Of Minglan, with certain annoying characters being suddenly written out of the way, in what feels like a sudden manner.
That said, I’m not at all sorry to see (what I think is) the last of Aunt. She really is a toxic character, and I was pretty darn shocked this set of episodes, to see the way she literally abuses her husband, and with a great deal of vitriol, too.
I have to admit, I got a great deal of satisfaction from Yuanyi walking in and giving Aunt the sharpest slap she’s probably experienced in her life. Aunt absolutely had that slap coming, she was being so horrible and violent towards her husband.
And also, gosh, I do love how badass Yuanyi is.
I don’t know how Aunt seems to forget that she’s literally up against a legit warrior, as she embarks on these petty politics.
That said, I found that I had to suspend some serious disbelief, in the flashback around how Yuanyi had ended up leaving Shaoshang behind, those 15 years ago.
I mean, don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate the drama of the scene. It really is a poignant idea, that Yuanyi would be forced to leave Shaoshang behind, due to a bout of petty plotting by Aunt, in a bid to separate Yuanyi from Cheng Shi (Dad).
BUT. The woman has literally just given birth to not one, but TWO babies, and I’m expected to believe that within 2 hours, she’s able to suit up in armor, and walk out of there without assistance, with a baby in her arms? To go to WAR??
First of all, that’s humanly impossible, even for a female warrior, is it not?
And second of all, why would anyone think that it’s a good idea to bring small children to war?? We literally see Cheng Shi and Yuanyi leave with not just Shaoshang’s twin baby brother, but an older brother who looks to be about only 5 years old.
I.. don’t understand? Maybe I haven’t watched enough C-dramas to know (so please educate me if you do know), but was this A Thing, back in the day, to bring children with you to war??
The other thing which I find myself having a bit of trouble with, logic-wise, is the situation around Yangyang.
Earlier, we hear Aunt accuse Yangyang of sneaking food to Shaoshang, every time Aunt tried to starve her in order to discipline her.
And then later, in episode 4, we’re told that Yangyang had been brought up by her grandfather and aunt, who did a splendid and loving job of teaching her not only how to read and write, but also, all the values that she needs to know.
How does that work, especially since we are also told that Grandfather Ge lives very far away (so it’s not like Yangyang could pop back over to see her mom anytime she wanted)?
I’m tentatively rationalizing that perhaps Yangyang spent her early life with her grandfather and aunt, and then came to live with her mother, which is how she ended up being able to sneak food to Shaoshang, but I have to say, it’s really not very clear right now.
Right now, my drama instincts are guessing that it won’t be long before Shaoshang decides to run away from home.
After all, we’ve just spent these past two episodes exploring how she feels, as she gets disciplined by Yuanyi, and also, as she watches Yuanyi promise to treat Yangyang as her own daughter, and then embrace Yangyang in a way that she’s never embraced Shaoshang.
Plus, there’s how Shaoshang feels hurt that Yuanyi always seems to assume the worst, when it comes to Shaoshang’s intentions.
It feels like it will just be a matter of time, before Shaoshang decides that she has no reason to live in this rejection and misery, and go out there to conquer the world on her own terms.
Of course, this is just my guess at this point, so.. let’s see!
*This show is being covered on the Early Access (US$5) Tier on Patreon*
Episode 21-22, 23-24 notes will be out on Thursday, 8 September 2022! I hope you’ll consider joining us!
It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for September, which you can find here!