Review: Love Like The Galaxy [China]

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

A gorgeously shot, epic love story that works out to be wonderfully addictive and immersive.

The entire cast is pretty great, but it’s really our leads Wu Lei and Zhao Lu Si who ground this one for me, with their nuanced portrayals of their characters, and their fantastic shared chemistry.

Show isn’t perfect, and there are some rough edges in the presented narrative, but it’s nothing some lens adjustments can’t fix (I talk more about that in a bit).

Importantly, Show knows how to serve up the romance, and make me swoon into a flailing puddle on a regular basis, and I consider that to be Show’s biggest strength. 😁

Absolutely recommend, especially if you enjoy a dose of swoony romance. ❤️

THE LONG VERDICT:

This is one of those times when FOMO (fear of missing out) served me very, very well, you guys.

When I heard so many raves about this drama, I just couldn’t not check it out, even though I was a little intimidated by the total episode count.

Show is listed as being in 2 parts; Part 1 is 27 episodes, while Part 2 is 29 episodes, making a total of 56 episodes.

That is admittedly a lot of episodes. Like, I could cover several shorter shows using those exact drama hours, yes?

BUT. I am SO glad I didn’t.

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I am SO glad that I chose to invest those drama hours here, on this show, because this has turned out to be such a wonderfully addictive, immersive watch. 🥰

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

As a general rule, I enjoyed the music in this show, and the various tracks help to amplify and elevate my watch experience.

All the music is quite lovely, and if I had to pick favorites, it would be the set of tracks in this first video.

I love the titles of the tracks, as well as the poignance of feeling in the tracks themselves.

The titles roughly translate as: 1. Star River’s Sigh of Compassion, 2. Star River’s Sigh of Love, 3. Star River’s Sigh of Joy, and 4. Star River’s Sigh of Worry.

I love how the same musical refrain is given such a different treatment in each of these tracks, and on a meta level, it makes me think that Show is saying that through all of life’s ups and downs, the love between our OTP – that star river that is the galaxy – stays consistent and true.

LOVE THAT. ❤️

I’m also including the four main songs, as well as a collection of the background music instrumentals, in case that’s what you’d prefer. Please enjoy. ❤️

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to help maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

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1. Show is best binged

This is something I’ve learned about C-dramas, especially long ones; the watch experience is just way better, when you watch more episodes in a single sitting.

If you watch just 1 or 2 episodes at a time, there’s a danger of feeling like nothing much happened on your screen.

Currently, I tend to watch 4 episodes at a time, if I’m watching a Chinese drama, and that feels like a good rhythm.

Importantly, I’m here to tell you that that rhythm works great for this show.

2. Our drama world is big

Our OTP romance is the heart and soul of this drama, and Show does a good job of making it front-and-center a lot of the time, but there are also times when the focus shifts to other things and other characters.

It’s a natural effect of our drama world being so large and sprawling. Hang in there, though, because the focus always comes back to our OTP, eventually.

3. Sometimes logic gets stretched

..And it is often in service of nudging along the OTP relationship. Just roll with it and enjoy the feels, is my advice around that. 🥰

Of course, it’s also true that Show stretches logic at other times, and it has nothing to do with furthering the OTP relationship.

I’ll talk more about that later in the review, but again, just rolling with it is probably the better way to enjoy this show.

4. The later episodes can feel a bit choppy in particular

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Show was reportedly heavily edited to get it down to the 56 episodes that aired, and this does seem to show up, especially in our later episodes.

Sometimes the movement between plot points can feel jerky and disjointed and not very elegant at all.

Knowing to expect that helps.

5. Show does get a little dark at times, especially towards the later episodes

Show starts out more fun and lighthearted, but because there are weightier things in our story that need to be dealt with, Show does lean into its darker side, in our later episodes.

Knowing to expect that helps, too.

MY APPROACH TO THIS REVIEW

I’ll be doing a quick-ish macro overview of the things I liked and liked less about this show, before doing a selective deep dive into characters and relationships.

Because Show is 56 episodes long, it’s impossible for me to cover everything in a great amount of detail, in this review.

If you’d like to know my detailed thoughts on this show on an episode-by-episode basis, you might like to consider checking out my Patreon notes for this show, which are available here, on the Early Access Tier. ❤️

STUFF I LIKED

Show is beautiful to look at

I really like Show’s 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.

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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.

Yes, it’s true that Chinese viewers had complained that the costumes weren’t truly authentic, and that certain aspects of the costumes looked more Japanese than Chinese, but I personally put that down to artistic license, and don’t hold that against Show.

Generally speaking, you can see that care was put into making Show as pretty as possible.

There are so many scenes through the entire drama, where the lighting and framing is just *chef’s kiss* gorgeous, and you just can’t but pause to gawk at the Pretty.

Just as one example, all the aerial shots that we get in episode 6, of the lantern festival, make everything look extra expansive and grand, and all the pretty lights from the lanterns makes everything feel a little magical.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I dig it. I’m perfectly happy to delve into a bit of magical pretty, thank you very much.

Lookie; everything is SO DANG PRETTYYY. 🤩🤩🤩

The touches of insight into Chinese culture

Even though this is not Show’s primary focus, I really enjoyed how Show weaves little nuggets of Chinese culture into its narrative, so that the watch becomes a bit of an educational experience for us as well – when we’re not swooning over the OTP. 😁

I like how Show uses a light hand in doing this, so that the glimpses into Chinese culture and customs always feels like a bonus, without feeling like too much.

Here’s just one example, from episode 5, around the Cheng family moving into their new home.

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[MINOR SPOILERS]

First, there’s the way the Cheng family moves to their new house in the early dawn hours because it’s an auspicious hour.

That’s a very traditional Chinese practice, and the auspicious day and hour for your specific activity – in this case, moving house – is typically selected in consultation with a fortune teller or monk.

Gran (Xu Di) lighting the fire before the family enters the new home, is symbolic of the family moving into the new home.

The phrase for moving house in Chinese is “入伙” (rùhuǒ) which sounds exactly like “enter fire” (入火), which is probably why lighting a fire symbolizes the official moving in of the family.

It is also believed that fire dispels negative energy.

My mom says that it likely also has to do with the idea of lighting a warm stove, because that signifies that the family would be warm and have food to eat, both of which are extremely important in Chinese culture.

[END SPOILERS]

TANGENT: A handful of language / cultural clarifications

As I was watching the show, I realized that there are some things that may not be immediately accessible or clear to international audiences, which is why I thought you guys might find it interesting if I clarified a few things.

[MINOR TO MODERATE SPOILERS]

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Reading Chinese

E3-4. In this set of episodes, Show shines the spotlight on Shaoshang’s (Zhao Lu Si) poor reading abilities.

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.

Family name vs. Courtesy name

E5-6. You might notice that Buyi’s family addresses him as “Zisheng” instead of “Buyi.”

This means that “Zisheng” is his given name at birth, while “Buyi” is his courtesy name, which is a name that is bestowed upon adulthood (at age 20), in addition to one’s given name. You can read more about courtesy names here.

On a related note, I’d like to also say that “Niaoniao” is more likely a family pet name than a given name, because the article notes that courtesy names were mostly given to men, and when given to women, it was mostly in the context of marriage.

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It’s pretty fascinating isn’t it, even though it’s also confusing? 😅

Edit: Ain.H has some fascinating insights into the use of family name vs. courtesy name, you can check out her comment, which I’ve pinned at the end of the review.

Subtitle clarification

E51-52. My subtitles say that Buyi (Wu Lei) waits for Shaoshang at the capital gates for 3 hours, but it’s actually 6 hours.

What Ah Fei (Sun Kai) mentions, is that they’ve waited for “三个时辰” which Google Translate will try to tell you is a total of 3 hours, but is literally 3 blocks of 2 hours, which makes 6 hours.

I just thought you guys might like to know that.

[END SPOILERS]

The focus on the OTP

The thing I really appreciate about the way Show manages its story, is that it always remembers that our OTP is THE main point.

Yes, our story has stretches dedicated just to the OTP, and those are heady and delicious and definitely my favorite highlights of my watch.

At the same time, when Show does ramp up the political and revenge aspects of our story, which, really, isn’t of primary interest to me, it keeps our OTP relationship in the center of it all, and makes sure that much of the goings-on, is viewed through the lens of our OTP relationship.

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That makes it a lot more engaging and interesting to me personally, and I’m very happy with how Show manages not to push the OTP connection aside, even as it deals with its other story threads.

Because, not gonna lie, I mostly just care about our central lovebirds, and how they’re doing, heh.

And therefore, it makes me happy that Show doesn’t forget for a moment, that our OTP is THE most important thing, in our story world. 😁

STUFF THAT WAS OK

The investigation that Buyi’s working on

I have decided that Show is essentially a drug lord who’s keeping me around, watching stuff that I’m sometimes not very interested in, and then dangling bits of OTP crack at me, just often enough, that I’m willing to stick around to wait for the next hit. 😅

For example, I have to admit that I’m not truly that interested in the case that Buyi is shown to be investigating from pretty early on in our story, even though it’s clearly a very big and important thing to him.

I don’t begrudge Buyi his priorities, but I have to confess that I never really had a great deal of interest in the case.

I try to pay attention, I do, but I have to also admit that sometimes, when all the political talking goes on for too long, my eyes glaze over and my mind starts to wander. 😝

However, I do 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, as he goes about his investigation.

[MINOR SPOILER]

Like in the way he’s able to deduce, in episodes 3-4, 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).

[END SPOILER]

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And of course, if the scene requires Buyi to be all fierce and badass, I sit up and pay attention, even if the scene has nothing to do with Shaoshang. 🤩😁

STUFF I LIKED LESS

Logic stretches

There are a couple of instances where I felt the need to suspend disbelief, in order to roll with what Show was serving up.

Here they are, for the record.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3-4. I found that I had to suspend some serious disbelief, in the flashback around how Yuanyi  (Zeng Li) 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 (Guo Tao) 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??

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E3-4. The other thing which I find myself having a bit of trouble with, logic-wise, is the situation around Yangyang (Xu Jiao).

Earlier, we hear Aunt (Chen Si Si) 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, Show isn’t very clear about this.

E19-20. Zhaojun (Estelle Chen) successfully executing Prince Xiao (Sheng Guan Sen) is a bit of a stretch.

Because, you certainly need a significant amount of strength and skill, to be able to decapitate someone successfully. And she’s a dainty noble lady with no experience or skill with the sword.

But Show lets her succeed on the first try anyway.

E49-50. I just have to say that I cannot for the life of me rationalize how they could have known that Buyi was alive, and yet just left him there, instead of bringing him back.

Even if they’d thought of him as a criminal, shouldn’t they have brought him back to face judgment?

And, even if they didn’t have the manpower or equipment to bring him back, shouldn’t they have gone back for him immediately, instead of just leaving him lying in the cold, on the side of the cliff, for 2 whole days, in the middle of winter, while they debated over his guilt?

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I just don’t get that?

[END SPOILER]

Some inconsistencies [SPOILERS]

The main thing that comes to mind, is Show’s use of Buyi’s name.

There are two things that niggle at me, as being inconsistent.

Edit: It looks like I was wrong about all my nitpicking on the family name vs. courtesy name thing. Ain.H has some fascinating insights into the use of family name vs. courtesy name, you can check out her comment, which I’ve pinned at the end of the review.

You can still read my nitpicking bits here, to understand my original confusion, and then you can check out Ain.H’s explanation later, in the comments section. 😅

The first thing

In episode 50, the recounting of how Buyi had seen his father murdered by Ling Yi is tragic and poignant, as is the flashback to how young Buyi had first met the Emperor, and the Emperor had asked his name.

BUT. I have to nitpick a little, and point out that Buyi is a courtesy name, and Zisheng is the birth name.

Since courtesy names are given at the point of coming-of-age, at 20 years old, there is no way that the answer could have been, “Ling Buyi,” when he, as a little boy, was giving the Emperor the name of his cousin as his own.

The answer should have been, “Ling Zisheng.”

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ANYWAY. I do appreciate the drama with which Buyi answers, when, in the present, the Emperor asks him to tell him with his own lips, his real name.

It’s the first time he’s able to articulate his name officially like this, and the way Show plays it as being very momentous, feels fitting: Huo. Wu. Shang.

The second thing

The second thing is, everyone is quick to change the way they address Buyi, in that instead of addressing him as General Ling, he is now known as General Huo.

And, I get the part where he requests to continue to use the courtesy name “Buyi” as a way of acknowledging his cousin.

However, everyone who’s close to him, like the Emperor, is still shown as addressing him as Zisheng, and that’s just wrong, because his birth name is Wushang.

In order to be consistent, all instances of where he’s addressed as Zisheng should have been changed to Wushang, after episode 50.

The fact that Buyi’s fought so hard to bring justice to his family, and reclaim his own identity, feels completely undercut by the fact that his birth name is announced once, and then never used again, for the rest of the show.

I found that rather weird, honestly. 😅

Spots of choppiness in Show’s late stretch

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, Show was reportedly heavily edited to get it down to 56 episodes, in order for it to fit the time slot.

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I’m pretty sure that the extended full version, rumored to be releasing for Lunar New Year in 2023, will fill in quite a few narrative gaps, which show up in this version.

Because of this context, I was a lot more forgiving of any perceived disjointedness or choppiness in Show’s storytelling; I just assumed that Show had had relevant footage that just didn’t make the cut.

Here are a couple of instances of narrative choppiness, just for the record.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E43-44. Show seems to skip ahead in a rather unnatural manner to the scene where Buyi finds Shaoshang in prison, along with Li Feng’s dead body (but I’m so pleased to have Buyi and Shaoshang together again, that I’m willing to just roll with it).

E45-46. I’m starting to feel like Show’s getting a little disjointed, in the way arcs are introduced, resolved and then linked to other arcs.

For example, the whole thing with Lou Ben (Wang Zi Rui) amps up quite suddenly in episode 45, and by episode’s end, all the final exposition in done around his ambition, and he’s suddenly dead, after holding Shaoshang hostage.

It feels like before we know it, Lou Ben’s dead, and Shaoshang and Buyi head off to find Cheng Shi, based on the clue that Lou Ben leaves for Shaoshang – and then we skip right to 5 days later, when Cheng Shi’s safe at home, recuperating in bed.

That felt pretty choppy and disjointed to me, honestly. 😅

The fact that we’re filled in what had happened, both with Cheng Shi and with the rescue, with  lots of expository lines of dialogue, also feels unnatural and rushed, like the editors decided that we didn’t have time to see a chunk of stuff, and so made it such that we could at least hear about it.

Not my favorite thing that Show’s done, by far.

[END SPOILER]

Show leaning into the darkness in its late stretch [MAJOR SPOILERS]

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In episodes 47 and 48, Buyi acts to take revenge on Ling Yi (Sha Bao Liang), and that’s where things take a very definite turn into darkness and blood. 😬

Honestly, I feel like I got lost and wandered into a different drama world by mistake.

Instead of the world of Love Like The Galaxy, by the end of episode 48, I felt like I’d managed to timeslip into the world of Rain’s 2009 movie Ninja Assassin, which, if you haven’t seen it, is very, very bloody, and seems to delight in the idea of blood spraying everywhere. 😝

Essentially, my brain can buy the logic of Buyi’s revenge; when Show lays it out like this, I can understand why he would take matters into his own hands, and kill Ling Yi himself.

HOWEVER. It still feels out of character for this show, if that makes sense?

All along, we’d had our OTP romance front-and-center, and even when our story took a turn into the more political side of things.

It had been so gratifying, to see how unwavering Buyi’s love, trust and affection is, for Shaoshang. Honestly, that’s THE biggest draw of this show, for me.

And then, in just these two episodes, it felt like Show had taken that away from me, which was very unsettling. 😭

The silver linings are, 1, it does become easier to understand and digest, when you put thought into it, and 2, Show does make its way back to non-revenge stuff afterwards.

But yeah, this was still rather disconcerting, despite it being built into Buyi’s backstory, because I’d expected Show to not get so dark, y’know? 😅

SPOTLIGHT ON CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS

Our drama world boasts a very large, very sprawling cast, so it would be impossible for me to talk about every character in our story.

In this section, I’m going to spend most of my time talking about Buyi and Shaoshang, individually and together, and then selectively highlighting other characters and relationships, in the interest of keeping this review more focused.

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Again, if you’re interested in my more detailed thoughts on an episode-by-episode basis, you might like to consider checking out my episode notes on Patreon, which are available here, on the Early Access Tier. ❤️

Leo Wu / Wu Lei as Buyi

One of the key reasons I’d wanted to check out this show, is because I’d heard that Buyi’s wonderfully written and delivered, and memorable in all the right ways.

Wu Lei being a swoony, smoldery male lead? Yes please!

And I have to say, neither Show nor Wu Lei disappoints; Buyi really is a HUGE draw for me, in this show.

On a shallow note, Wu Lei looks every bit the part of a general, which is so great.

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.

AND, he looks fantastic on horseback as well, and makes just about every other male lead I’ve seen on horseback, pale in comparison. Truly, Wu Lei’s posture as our lovely general is just impeccable. *chef’s kiss* 🤩

On top of that, I love that our general manages to as romantic as he appears fierce and stoic.

It might look like a potentially uneasy mash-up on paper, but somehow, in Wu Lei’s hands, these two very different aspects to Buyi come together in a way that feels organic and believable.

Buyi was absolutely THE highlight of my watch, and literally, almost every time Buyi appeared on my screen, it felt like all was right in my drama world. 🤩

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[SPOILER ALERT]

E1-2. I like that Buyi’s smart, and quick on the uptake.

When Shaoshang 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.

E5-6. It seems that Buyi is betrothed to Princess Yuchang (Cui En Ci), but will have none of it, never mind what anyone says. That’s very bold.

What surprises me more, is his very romantic statement about his attitude towards love and marriage, given that he’s appeared so stoic and unsentimental, so far.

“Your Highness, I must make this clear to you in front of everyone here. The bride I seek is to know she’s the one at the first sight. My life and my heart will belong to her. If I can’t find such a woman, I would rather not marry in my whole life.”

Isn’t that so deeply, passionately romantic, particularly for our stoic general? I kinda love it, not gonna lie. 🤩

I do feel rather sorry for Princess Yuchang, though, because she does seem very smitten with Buyi, and his rejection of her is really quite cold.

I mean, not only does he make this statement in front of everyone, the next time she tries to enter his courtyard, he literally shoots an arrow in her direction, then says that he might not be so accurate the next time.

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He’s literally threatening her to stay away from him, and that’s pretty harsh, honestly. 😝

E7-8. It might be a little unrealistic, the way Show makes him out to be so on-point every time he analyzes the details of a case and sends his men in a new direction of evidence-gathering, but I do really like the idea that Buyi’s so smart, strategic and perceptive in his thinking.

The fact that he’s so smart, and sees Shaoshang’s appeal, when so many others don’t, makes me want to connect the two things, and conclude that it’s because he’s unusually perceptive, that he’s able to discern Shaoshang’s loveliness.

E17-18. This set of episodes, I’m inordinately amused that in our opening scene, Buyi’s extra fierce when fighting, because he’s grumpy that this thing with Fan Chang (Zhang Ji Nan) breaking out of prison, has prevented him from escorting Shaoshang back home.

Tee hee hee. That feels kinda petty coming from our honorable general, which makes it extra funny. 😁

E23-24. I think it’s a bit of a silly gag that Buyi’s always unhappy whenever anyone – ANYONE – gets in the way of him spending alone time with Shaoshang.

Logically, it would make more sense for him to be nice to Cheng Shi, since, if he plays his cards right, Cheng Shi would become his father-in-law.

But no. Buyi’s just so fixated with wanting to spend alone time with Shaoshang, that he’s grumpy to whomever gets in his way, whether it’s her father or the Emperor in question. Which, I suppose, is pretty endearing too, when I think about it. 😁

E25-26. I find is extremely endearing, actually, that Buyi would readily admit to Han Wu (Zhao Yu Tong), that his sense of urgency around the case, has to do with the fact that he has someone in his heart. Melt.

Our general might be a badass, but he’s a badass who is driven from the heart, and the fact that he’s unabashed about admitting it, really really endears him to me. 🥰

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E39-40. As a side note, I have to say, I got an inordinate amount of amusement and satisfaction, from seeing Buyi dealing with Marquis Yue, while lying down behind a screen, in the throne room.

That feels so indolently badass, that Buyi can recline in the presence of the Emperor, heh. I love it. 🤩

E45-46. I find quite disturbing, this set of episodes, is how Show starts to hint that Buyi may not be who we think he is.

That was very unsettling for me, because I feel like I’ve just spent 40+ episodes getting to know him – only to be now told, that maybe he’s not who I thought he was, all along.

This feels like a rather weird choice, since we’re pretty much approaching the final stretch of our story, at this point.

I mean, I know some stories do shake out that way, but this is not the kind of drama I’d pegged Show for.

With Buyi and his stoic earnestness, and his marshmallow heart for Shaoshang, being the anchor of my watch these past 40+ episodes, it feels very unsettling, to receive all these indications that there’s more to Buyi than we know, and that the things we don’t know, have a sinister tinge to them.

I did come around to this quirk in Buyi’s characterization on further thought, but I just wanted to put it out there, that it was.. unsettling, particularly on first encounter.

[END SPOILER]

Zhao Lu Si / Rosy Zhao as Shaoshang

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Before starting this show, I’d heard that Zhao Lu Si’s character is likable, which I liked the sound of, because I mostly do need to like my characters, in order to want to watch them.

Plus, I have enjoyed Zhao Lu Si before, like in Romance of Tiger and Rose.

I’m happy to say that I liked her even more in this show, than in Romance of Tiger and Rose, where I already found her likable.

I think Shaoshang’s a pretty great character, and I feel like Zhao Lu Si brings her to life in a very believable, endearing way.

I love that she’s quick-witted and scrappy, because that makes her interesting to watch, and I like the fact that she grows and evolves to quite a significant degree, over the course of our story, and yet, still retains the essence of what maker her, her.

I thought that was very nicely managed, by the writers.

When Show first aired, I did hear rumblings about Chinese viewers finding Zhao Lu Si’s diction not being good enough for a period show, but I personally have no problems with this, because Shaoshang is a character who’s not book-smart, and hasn’t been well-educated.

That effectively provides a good explanation for why her diction may not be as crisp and pristine as Buyi, which works very well, in my book.

I liked Shaoshang a great deal, and I really enjoyed watching her journey towards growth and maturity, both in love and in life.

Here are just a handful of highlights of that journey.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3-4. Shaoshang may not be book-smart, but she sure is quick-witted.

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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.

E5-6. Again, I like seeing how clever and quick-witted Shaoshang is, and we get that several times, this set of episodes.

Like how she’s able to deduce correctly, that Dad Cheng Shi will have to go on expedition soon, for example.

Both Cheng Shi and Yuanyi are shocked that Shaoshang would know he’s leaving, and think that someone’s leaked the information to her, but in the end, it’s all in the way she’s analyzed the circumstantial evidence. I love how smart she is!

And then there’s the way Shaoshang’s able to construct a swing, just from having seen workmen do it before.

Yuanyi might have some words to say about Shaoshang applying herself just as much to studying, but even she can’t help but look a little impressed, heh.

E7-8. I really like how Shaoshang doesn’t act embarrassed at all, when she doesn’t understand Yuan Shen’s flowery language. She simply dismisses it as a load of rubbish, and I kinda love how self-possessed she is, to be able to do that.

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E7-8. I also love that Shaoshang’s pretty much vibing just like Qiqi (Zhang Yue), in speaking up on Qiqi’s behalf, and defending military families in general.

It’s so great that she manages to make the golden dates seem like a superfluous luxury, because Princess Yuchang and her petty friends try to make fun of Yangyang for not knowing what they are.

E9-10. It’s so audacious of Shaoshang to stage that bridge collapse at Old Madam Wan’s (Liao Xue Qiu) birthday bash, but I can see why she’d want to do that.

She’s just giving tit for tat by having them fall into the water, since the snide socialite ladies had pushed Yangyang into the lake first, right?

E9-10. I feel for Shaoshang, that she gets punished in a pretty serious manner, with military rods, no less, but it’s quite awe-inspiring, the way Shaoshang is so ready to pay the price for her actions.

It’s like she knew that she would get into trouble for staging that bridge collapse, but she’d weighed it in her mind and considered it worthwhile, and had gone ahead with it anyway.

The fact that she doesn’t shy away from her punishment, even though it is admittedly very intimidating, is what I find awe-inspiring, even though I’m not sure that I agree it was worthwhile.

E11-12. The most exciting part for me, this set of episodes, is seeing Shaoshang put her natural smarts to good use, when the fake bandits attack her entourage.

It’s so thrilling to see her just instinctively know what to pay attention to, and what decisions need to be made, for the safety of everyone in the group.

Our Shaoshang may not be naturally inclined to books, but man, she’s definitely naturally inclined to all this strategic thinking and leadership stuff, isn’t she!

I got SUCH a thrill out of watching Shaoshang be in her element, without even realizing that she’s in her element. She just seems to know exactly what to do, and how to utilize the resources available to her.

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PLUS. She’s able to analyze the situation so well, and sift through the clues so systematically, to arrive at the (correct!) conclusion, that the people they’re up against, aren’t bandits, but rebels looking to stage a rebellion. So, SO impressive.

The more I watched her, the more I felt like she’s clearly born of a military family, and could very well make a great general. 🤩

E13-14. Over on Shaoshang’s side of things, I have to admit to only being cursorily interested in her rousing speech to the wounded villagers in Hua County. 😝 I simply clocked that this experience feels like a key milestone in Shaoshang’s growth journey.

She’s definitely showing more maturity and compassion than we’d seen from her in the beginning of our story, and this feels like a step in the right direction.

The flashbacks to Shaoshang’s childhood days, when she’d been bullied by her cousins, does also help to color in her character further, so that I feel like I understand her and her emotional baggage a bit better.

It sucks that she’d been bombarded with lies about her parents not wanting her anymore, even though she’d wanted to believe that they did want her, and had only left her, in order to go to battle to save the world.

This might actually be the root of her abandonment issues, and very likely feeds into her belief that her parents – Mom especially – find her to be a burden.

Perhaps that’s why she’s so eager to start a new life with Lou Yao, who turns out to be an agreeable and supportive companion while she’s out in Hua County.

E21-22. I’m not at all surprised that the petty socialites try to get on Shaoshang’s case and provoke her to a fight, during that gathering at Mt. Tudao, but what I’m pleasantly surprised by, is how Shaoshang no longer allows herself to rise to the bait.

It really feels like Shaoshang’s matured a fair bit, during the course of recent events, and I’m proud of her, even though this growth has involved some pain.

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I like that instead of stooping to their level, Shaoshang simply makes off on her own, to explore and entertain herself.

..Which, of course, is how she ends up crossing paths with Buyi again. YESS.

E23-24. I find Shaoshang artlessly endearing, when interacting with the Emperor and Empress (Bao Jian Feng and Tong Lei), and even though we know that she dislikes studying, you can see that she’s improved a great deal, to be able to answer the Emperor and Empress the way she does.

She’s still the Shaoshang we know and love, and she’s also still kinda rough around the edges, but there’s a new layer of wisdom about her, that wasn’t there before, and I like this very much.

E41-42. The way Shaoshang talks with Consort Chu (Shao Yun), really showcases how much Shaoshang has grown in wisdom and maturity, since the beginning of our story.

The insight and perspective that Shaoshang provides – that Consort Chu’s always blamed others for the misfortune in her marriage, when it’s her heart that’s had her trapped, all these years – feels spot-on, to me, and I am duly impressed that our Shaoshang is proving to be so wise.

E43-44. As expected, Shaoshang isn’t one to sit still – or take orders, even from the Emperor himself – when she perceives that her family is in danger, and this set of episodes, she proves that with her actions.

It feels a bit foolhardy, that she leave the palace like that, on her own, because there are so many dangers out there, and she’s just one person, but it really speaks to how deeply she cares about her family, that she would risk her own life, for the sliver of hope, of saving them.

[END SPOILER]

Buyi and Shaoshang

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You guys. I luff-luff-LUFF this OTP. ❤️

This loveline is absolutely THE highlight of my watch experience, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that from very early on in our story, our stoic general is clearly smitten with our unconventional young miss.

I love that he falls for her first, and falls so hard, and is so steadfast in his devotion to her.

And while it’s a bit of a slow burn for her, it is absolutely just as satisfying, to see her fall for him too, and become just as devoted to him.

It’s a little slow in the coming, to see these two as a couple, but Show makes it worth the wait, because it’s awesome to see them side by side, as equals.

I do very much also appreciate that Show makes it a point to not make the minting of the OTP relationship the end-point of our loveline.

Instead, we also get to see how they learn to understand and appreciate their differences, which just makes this relationship feel all the more real and organic.

Of course, like I mentioned earlier in this review, the way Show sets up the run-ins between them, particularly in our early episodes, is pretty obvious.

Consistently, one of Buyi’s righthand men will spot a carriage from the Cheng family, or Shaoshang herself, and mention it to Buyi – and the next thing you know, his gaze is locked on her, and his next plans just happen to be where she’s going to be too, heh.

But y’know what, since this is in service of Buyi and Shaoshang crossing paths on a very regular basis, I am all for it, no complaints. 😁

Even though I’m zooming in on this OTP loveline as a key focus of my review, it’s still not quite possible to include every little thing, here in this review.

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Here, I choose some of my personal favorite highlights, of this OTP.

(Again, episode-by-episode breakdowns are available on my Patreon page here, on the Early Access Tier. ❤️)

[SPOILER ALERT]

E5-6. Show’s being rather obvious in the hints that it’s dropping for us, that Buyi is rather affected by Shaoshang.

One of this righthand men is always on hand to helpfully let us know that he’s usually never like this, heh.

Like how he usually never sentimental about New Year traditions, but instructs them to prepare some New Year goods for the men, after he sees a carriage from the Cheng family go by.

It’s rather obvious, but I don’t mind it, really, since Buyi’s being pretty stoic through it all. So it’s quite helpful, actually, to be told that he’s behaving differently than his norm, and it’s connected to his thoughts around Shaoshang. 😁

E5-6. I’m pleased that Buyi’s investigations take him to the Lantern Festival, because I’ve been itching for him to cross paths with Shaoshang again, but I do feel bad for Princess Yuchang, who tries – and fails – to gain his attention.

He remains completely unmoved, even when Princess Yuchang’s maid screams and cries that the Princess has fallen into the water. Or.. is it because the Princess has done similar things before and Buyi knows better than to fall for it? Ha. That’s possible? 😆

BUT. When Buyi sees Shaoshang scamper off in the direction of the fire, he doesn’t waste ANY time in going after her, to make sure she’s safe.

The scene where Buyi snatches Shaoshang out of harm’s way and twirls her to safety, with his cloak swirling around them, is very stylized, but I like it. It’s so prettyyy. 🤩

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And that shot of him walking to safety, with her in his arms, and the building burning behind him, is just breathtakingly beautiful, honestly. 😍

That shot of him looking back at her, as she is greeted by Dad, is lovely as well. Ahhh. I really love how Show takes care to make these moments beautiful. ❤️

E7-8. I love when Shaoshang comes face to face with Buyi, right after she’s announced (without knowing that she’s talking about him), that he’s admired her for a long time, but she’s not interested in him.

Tee hee hee. I am inordinately amused by this, particularly because Buyi repeats her words to her with such a deadpan expression. 🤭

ALSO! Shaoshang totally knows that he’s the one who’d saved her, the night of the fire. Eee!

But, it also becomes clear that it’s only in this moment that she pieces together that the one who’d saved her, is, in fact, General Ling, with whom she’s crossed paths prior. Whoops.

Considering her negative feelings towards those initial encounters, it’s no wonder she tries to get out of his way as quickly as possible. 😅

I do love how he comes to her rescue, though, when she gets accused of starting the fight with the petty socialite ladies who’d pushed Yangyang into the lake.

I mean, he does frame it as making sure that the investigation is fair and thorough, but honestly, I’m pretty darn sure that the only reason he actually gets involved in looking for evidence in the first place, is because he wants to help Shaoshang.

And, it’s thanks to his involvement, that the matter isn’t pursued further, which basically gets Shaoshang out of trouble – at least officially.

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E9-10. I’d imagined that Shaoshang would run away and require help and rescue from Buyi, who, in my head, would come across her wandering the streets by herself, but ha, that’s not what happens AT ALL.

Instead, she runs right to the Wan residence to seek refuge, which is where Buyi is, talking to General Wan, because of his case. And, because Shaoshang is there, Buyi ends up deciding to stay, not just for dinner, but for the night, and then ends up staying for two nights!

Hahaha. It’s so funny to me, how Buyi consistently ends up breaking his personal rules, because he wants to see Shaoshang. It’s dorky and cute, and that dorky cuteness is such a fantastic contrast to his usual stoic impassiveness.

In fact, I wanted to say that Leo Wu manages to channel both these sides of Buyi so well, that these different facets can be on him, at the same time, and it doesn’t feel weird or out of character. Very nicely done.

Right now, I’m pretty amused by how Buyi’s all smitten with Shaoshang, but Shaoshang is trying to stay as far away from him as possible.

..Which means that her reckless pronouncement at Princess Yuchang’s birthday celebration, that he’s admired her for a long time, but she has no interest in him, is pretty close to the truth, isn’t it? This tickles me. 😁

E9-10. I’m unabashedly in this for the OTP, and right now, that means anytime Buyi’s near Shaoshang, and reacts to her presence.

For example, I was very tickled at the way he leans in to eavesdrop, when he and his men walk past Qiqi’s chambers, and hear the two ladies talking about men and marriage.

It’s so dorky-cute, that Buyi is so obviously hoping to hear something that would indicate that Shaoshang might have an interest in him, or at least, a man like him.

And how disappointing it must be for him, that she states emphatically, that she will definitely not be marrying a military man – which is exactly what he is. Aw! Poor disappointed puppy. 😁

Generally speaking, though, I must say that Buyi doesn’t seem to allow any of his disappointments with Shaoshang, to affect his ability to function.

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He’s still as focused and businesslike as ever, in talking to General Wan about the map of Shu, and is as sharp as ever, in picking up on the fact that Shaoshang is hiding under the bridge.

I’m amused that he eventually makes that deal with Shaoshang, to keep her secret about tampering with the bridge safe, if she helps him get that map of Shu from Old Madam Wan’s chambers.

But first, I can’t not mention the horseback riding incident, because it’s the classic sort of OTP moment that this show seems to lean into.

From what I can tell so far, the moments might require suspension of disbelief in large chunks, but then, they are also so melty and swoony, that I don’t actually care that suspension of disbelief was required in the first place. 😁

In this case, it’s pretty naive-stupid of Shaoshang to attempt to ride a horse on her own, when she’s never done it before, and it’s quite a stretch, the way Buyi casually jumps up on the moving horse behind her, to create that breathy moment of hyper-proximity.

Not that I’m complaining, coz like I said, I lap up these moments like they’re crack-laced candy.

And then there’s the way he gently puts her foot into the stirrups, and there’s also the way he just looks at her, with his expression stoic, but his eyes wide and clear, and.. soft, in the way he gazes at her. This stuff makes me squee, no lie.

As for the deal with Shaoshang, that she get the map of Shu for him, I rather like the detail, that he does it in this roundabout manner, because if he were to storm the place and search for the map himself, then General Wan and his family would get intro trouble for being in possession of it – along with Shaoshang’s family, because her family is also involved in the armament case.

That’s a great deal of consideration, coming from Buyi, because if he were to do things strictly officially, it would be faster for him. But he’s doing things this way, ultimately, in order to protect Shaoshang and her family. I like that a lot.

E9-10. I have to say, I’m really quite tickled at Buyi’s highly unnatural way of fulfilling the favor that Shaoshang asks of him, to stand at that particular spot and smile in the ladies’ direction, in order to entice them to come running over the bridge.

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HA. That’s so sneaky of Shaoshang, and also, isn’t it really funny, how the stoic general accedes to this ridiculous request, without question? 😁

E11-12. I do love watching Buyi do his badass general thing, I have to say. He’s all intensity and fire, as he goes about eradicating the bad guys, and saving the innocent. Ahhh! 🤩

AND THENNN. There’s that moment when he hears that Shaoshang’s in danger, and he just SLICES OFF the arrow that’s sticking out of his back, so that he can go to her.

I mean, you do need to suspend disbelief somewhat, coz it’s ridiculously stylish, how he slices off that arrow, and then, without even wincing or batting an eye, rides off towards Shaoshang, while barking out orders to his men.

But y’know, stars in my eyes for daysss, anyway. 😁

..And that’s basically the vibe of the rest of the episode, for me.

There is A LOT of stuff to suspend disbelief over, and you’d have quite a list, if you stopped to make one, but why would you, when you could be spending that time just melting and swooning and spazzing instead? 😁

I love how ridiculously flashy his entrance is, when he comes on the scene, and saves Shaoshang from being killed, by throwing his spear, such that it ends up impaling the leader of that particular rebel group.

And then there’s how he heads straight for Shaoshang, grabs her by the waist, and looking right into her eyes, breathes, “Don’t be scared. I’m here.”

I feel like this scene would be very amusing for those not feeling the feels, heh. But I AM feeling the feels, so I’m only giggling a little bit. The rest of the time, I’m just swooning. 😍🫠

And then there’s the scene where he offers Shaoshang his handkerchief, which is sprinkled with calming powder, because he can see that she’s struggling with the smell of blood. That’s thoughtful and sweet.

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It’s also dorky-cute, how he lets on that he’s injured, and therefore needs her care as much as his injured men.

AND GOSH. THAT SHIRTLESS ARROW SCENE, YOU GUYS.

It’s not the shirtlessness so much that gets me, although I definitely did clock that Leo Wu is in excellent shape. It’s the way Buyi looks at Shaoshang, that melts my knees.

His gaze is so intent, and so gentle, and so hyper-aware, all at the same time.

And when she says that she has an idea of how to deal with the arrow that’s impaling him, he doesn’t even let her finish, and states emphatically that it will work, and that he trusts her.

My goodness. The way he puts himself in her hands, and never lets his gaze leave her face for a second; the way he barely flinches, even as she pulls that arrow out of his chest; the way the air practically crackles between them.

Plus, there’s how he looks at her. He’s all intensity and focus, but there’s a distinct sheen of trust and wonder in there that’s almost childlike. Like I said, he’s a badass and a smitten puppy, all at the same time, and I love it.

And then, when she hesitates, he grabs her hand and tells her, “It’s fine,” with that steady, gentle, anchoring sort of presence that I’m starting to associate with him, whenever he’s around her.

It’s heady, heady stuff, y’all. 😍 That crackling tensionnnn.

I don’t even care that it is absolutely ridiculous that he can withstand the pain so well, so that he doesn’t even blink when she pulls out that arrow. I’m just in a puddle of swoon over here. 🫠

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I did have to laugh at the fact that (a) Shaoshang has to ask him if it hurts, after she pulls out the arrow (DUH, of COURSE it does!), and (b) he shakes his head and instead asks if her hands hurt.

Ahahaha! This is so ridiculous! And yet, I don’t care. 😁

Of course, when Shaoshang lets on that she’s analyzed the whole situation and arrived at the correct conclusion, I can’t help but think that THIS is the thing that makes Buyi a goner.

There’s no way he’s going to stop liking her, now that he’s found out that she’s a natural strategist on the battlefield. That would be like catnip to him, yes? 🤩

When Shaoshang shows her despair over losing her people to the rebels, I do like how Buyi tells her, in gentle tones, that she’s already done very well, given the circumstances, and that even if her uncle had been present, there’s no guarantee that things could have turned out any better.

I think that’s important for Shaoshang to hear, particularly from the star general who absolutely knows what he’s talking about. I hope she won’t be too hard on herself.

But also, Shaoshang’s a lot stronger than Buyi tends to think, I think, because even though he tries to keep her from watching the execution of the remaining rebels, afraid that she would get nightmares, she watches anyway, from the bushes, determined to see them pay the price for their actions.

E13-14. Thanks to Wingman Emperor (hee!), and Buyi’s quick reflexes, we do get a situation where Buyi arrives in Hua County too, so that he can deliver the Emperor’s edict, honoring the previous magistrate with a posthumous title.

I’m really sad for Buyi, who has to stand there in the rain, and witness Shaoshang pledging to be with Lou Yao henceforth.

Augh. Poor smitten heartbroken stoic puppy. 😭

I also feel really bad for him, that he thinks that Shaoshang’s lumped him into the category of killers, along with the rebels who’d created this situation in the first place, and therefore would want nothing to do with him.

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I’m sure that’s not the case, and I’m bummed that Buyi’s sadder than he needs to be.

E15-16. How gallant of Buyi, to offer his carriage to Shaoshang, and how helpful, that this ride in the carriage brings Shaoshang’s thoughts back to the arrow scene, because she can see that he’s kept both the arrowhead and the shaoshang string that she’d used to remove it from his chest.

I don’t think that Shaoshang registers any special meaning behind the items (how could you not, Shaoshang?? You’re special to him, that’s why he has these keepsakes in the carriage with him, so that they’re within reach at all times!), but I’m hoping that they give her food for thought.

Mainly, I like the fact that the party stays overnight at the courtyard, because it gives us the chance to see more of Buyi’s broody smolder.

He doesn’t say a great deal, but every time there’s mention of Shaoshang’s betrothal to Lou Yao, he seems to smolder with extra intensity and meaning.

Beyond Buyi’s answer to the question of whether he would save his fiancée or the orphaned woman, which again brings his singleminded love and loyalty to the fore, this set of episodes, I’m most taken by that moment in the walkway, where he asks Shaoshang if she’s sure about the person whom she’s chosen.

For the record, I don’t think that Buyi’s purposefully trying to get between her and Lou Yao, because he’s too honorable for something like that.

But I do think that he’s concerned that she may be making a hasty choice, which is why he asks.

And he asks with that same gentle intensity that makes my knees melt.

“In human lives, it’s a blessing to be able to choose the right person and path. Are you sure the one you chose is the right one?”

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E15-16. I do love the scene where the Cheng family entourage is stopped at the capital gates, and Buyi steps in to help them.

First of all, it’s always great to see Buyi cutting such a regal figure on horseback. He really has a hero’s aura about him, as he enters the scene. 🤩

Everyone making way for him, just adds to his regality, because it’s so clear that he commands the utmost respect.

And then, to have him head straight to Shaoshang’s carriage, to make small talk with her, just makes the moment more squee-worthy, because he’s essentially emphasizing her importance, to everyone present.

Because, if they are all in awe of him, and he has such regard for her, this just elevates her social importance, doesn’t it?

I love how Mom and Dad exchange continuous meaningful glances, as they try to process the fact that Shaoshang and Buyi have some kind of personal connection.

And then, I just LOVE how Buyi casually explains that he and Shaoshang have been through life-and-death situations together, and that she’s undressed him, in order to treat his wound. HAHA.

I love it. It’s so deadpan-cheeky of him to keep emphasizing that she’s undressed him in the past, tee hee! 🤭 What must Mom and Dad think?!? 😁

And then, it’s honestly so cool, the way Buyi then escorts her entire party through the capital gates, like they’re the most important people in the world. 🤩🤩

E17-18. I perk up at every instance when Buyi and Shaoshang share the screen, like in episode 18, when he meets her at the roadblock, and offers to escort her back home.

The way he looks at her, is extra gentle, and the way he speaks to her, is extra gentle as well.

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It shows up every single time he is interacting directly with her, whether there are other people present or not, and that detail does make me melt.

I feel like he’d be able to hide his tenderness towards her if he wanted to, but.. he doesn’t want to, and just lets it all hang out, unabashedly, even if her mother is watching. That’s very endearing to me. 😍

On Shaoshang’s side of things, though, I can understand why she’s reflexively putting distance between herself and Buyi.

Although her parents have made it clear to her that Buyi has feelings for her, she’s hearing this after having chosen to marry someone else, so it’s completely improper for her to have a personal sort of connection with Buyi.

That’s why she’s doing all the proper things, of mentioning to Buyi that her marriage to Lou Yao is imminent, and that she’s just been to the Lou residence for marriage talks.

Oof. Buyi’s subtle-but-distinct crestfallen expression is like a punch to the gut, honestly. I feel so bad for him, that this is what he’s facing right now, in response to his feelings for Shaoshang.

And yet, he continues to be so steadfast, like how he requests the emperor to grant her imperial favor by praising her, even as he bestows the wedding gift of a pair of jade artifacts that he’s decided on.

It’s as if he knows exactly what she’s going through, with so many people looking down on her, and wishes to impart credibility and honor to her, in a way that others wouldn’t be able to refute.

I also love that he’s the one to deliver the edict, as if he’d volunteered for it, because he wants to see her receive this honor with his own eyes.

And when she doesn’t know what to do, he tells her, in that same gentle tone, to receive the edict.

And then, when she trips and falls, he’s right there to catch her, his gaze never leaving her face.

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Ahhhh!!!

Basically, the electric tension between them doesn’t escape the eyes of anyone present. 🔥

I feel bad for Buyi, that Shaoshang’s instinct is to jump away from him, but like I said before, this is just Shaoshang observing the proper distance expected of them, particularly given that she’s getting betrothed to someone else.

Poor Buyi though. I feel like that single moment, of Shaoshang jumping back away from him, is like a sucker punch to his gut.

He looks so stoically forlorn, even as he offers the edict to her, sighhh. 😭

E19-20. This set of episodes, a big highlight for me, is when Buyi asks to see Shaoshang alone, after she’s received the edict.

That scene, with the sun’s rays shining so poetically over the both of them, is so beautiful, seriously. 🤩

In particular, I love how the lighting plays with the shadows on Buyi’s face; it makes him look ethereally beautiful, like he’s walked out of a painting.

I’m also very tickled by how Buyi gets Shaoshang to meet him in the first place, where his third message is that if she doesn’t come as requested, that he’ll seek her out himself, which would be improper, and which would then force her to marry him, as recourse.

Hahaha! I bet Buyi would be quite happy with that outcome, actually. 😁

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I do love that in this meeting, which Buyi believes will likely be the last time they see each other, his main aim, is still to understand her better.

The way he asks her what her dreams are, and what she’d like to do, aside from getting married, and then soaks up her answers, like they’re music to his ears, is such heart-wobbly stuff. 😍

On the other hand, as sweet as this is, it’s just as poignant, to hear him say that they are not on the same path, and this will likely be the last time they see each other.

Oof. That hurts to hear, even though I know that this surely can’t be the last time they see each other.

I do respect that through all of this admittedly very poetic melty time with Buyi, Shaoshang conducts herself with utmost decorum.

Even when she hears that there’s a good chance he might die in battle this time, and hasn’t properly heard her play the flute, she doesn’t respond in any way that would be deemed inappropriate.

Instead, she simply tells him that she will play the flute for him, when he comes back victorious.

Augh. Such a beautiful and poignant scene.

E19-20. I love the scene where Shaoshang turns away reflexively from the sight of Prince Xiao’s execution, right into Buyi’s arms.

Eeee!!! I love how he’s such a rock, and how he instinctively enfolds her in his embrace, with one hand cradling her head.

And then, he says his signature line, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here.”

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Gurgle. It’s such swoony stuff, really.

Flail. Melt. Swoon.

E21-22. We get a moment of protective hyper-proximity, when Buyi puts himself between Zhaojun and Shaoshang, as a human shield of sorts.

That feels pretty intimate, in the sense that it feels like he’s very much on Shaoshang’s side, and is ready to take any blows for her, if necessary. Melt. 🫠

And then there’s the way he turns to Shaoshang and speaks in low, rather intimate tones, telling her to wait for him in the carriage, and ending off with, “听话,” (tīnghuà) which literally translates as “be good,” and is a phrase typically used in a more personal setting, between parents and children, or between lovers or spouses.

Because it’s a phrase that is reserved for more personal relationships, it does give me a bit of a thrill, to see Shaoshang acquiesce without protest.

It makes me feel like, on some level, she’s accepting his assertion of that personal aspect to their connection, even though she probably just thinks it’s wiser to get out of the way, with Zhaojun being so angry.

I really appreciate the conversation that Buyi and Shaoshang have in his carriage afterwards, in that, Buyi only gives Shaoshang information, but doesn’t try to impose his opinion on her.

Instead, he tells her whatever she decides, she’s right; that kind of unconditional support is truly one of the swooniest things about Buyi’s regard for her.

Beyond the swoon, I really do think that this conversation is quite pivotal, in Shaoshang’s eventual decision to call off the betrothal with Lou Yao.

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After all, this is THE point at which she starts to see things in a different perspective; that General He’s sacrifice has literally prevented death and disaster for so many people and their families, unlike the scene she’d witnessed in Hua County.

When Shaoshang eventually announces her decision, there’s a new gravitas and maturity about her, where I can almost see the people around her doing a double take, and it does gratify me greatly, to think that Buyi has had a significant part to play, in helping her arrive at this point.

E21-22. Elsewhere, I have to say I really do love how Buyi doesn’t ever hesitate to speak up on Shaoshang’s behalf, even if the insult is tangential.

When he overhears his stepmother and Lady Ruyang talking disdainfully about the misfortune of the He family, Buyi’s quick to set the record straight, that the Emperor desires the marriage alliance between the He and Lou families, and thus the marriage should not be criticized.

Also, it’s honestly so deadpan-cool of him, to flatly state that he’s not interested in dining with either of them, HA. That’s so against decorum, and he doesn’t bat an eye. 😁

Even though there’s no mention of Shaoshang, I do get the feeling that he’s tangentially protecting her, since the breaking off of her betrothal to Lou Yao is mixed up in there as well.

E21-22. I love how Show finds ways to allow Buyi and Shaoshang to meet, even under the most unlikely circumstances. And I love that Show makes these meetings make actual narrative sense.

In this case, it makes sense to me that there might be a secret meeting between political players, so close to a royal procession to Mt. Tudao, and it makes sense too, that Buyi might be there, monitoring the situation.

The entire scene where Buyi’s hanging from the roof with one hand, and holding onto Shaoshang with the other, is so startlingly badass. 🤩

The fact that this aggravates his old injury means that it must have been really painful for Buyi to hold and support Shaoshang singlehandedly like he does, but he pushes through anyway, and only cares about whether she’s been hurt, never mind whether he’s been hurt.

And then, his only focus is on keeping her safe, not only in the here and now, but also, in the future, with the way he coaches her that she was never there, and never heard anything.

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Augh. His devotion is such melty stuff.

E23-24. It’s quite funny how Buyi uses the jade pendant as a cover story, to get some proper alone time with Shaoshang, while having his men block Dad from coming back in to his residence, ha.

Even though their conversation is short, I do like the moment when Buyi says, with thoughtful gentleness, that Shaoshang’s the only person who asks him if he’s in pain, with no care for whether he’s still able to shoot an arrow or ride a horse.

When he talks about things like this, I can see why Buyi’s got such a soft spot for Shaoshang.

She cares about him as a person, whereas everyone else seems to care about his ability to function as a general.

One of the things I find most amusing about Buyi’s affection for Shaoshang, it the way he always takes the opportunity to demonstrate closeness between them, to others.

Like, when Shaoshang tells Wang Ling that she’s at Buyi’s house to thank him for saving her life, Buyi sagely agrees, saying, “That’s right, I got injured for her sake.”

Tee hee hee. He really jumps at every opportunity, which makes him such a badass and such a dork, at the same time.

E23-24. It’s such a bummer that Shaoshang gets on the Fifth Princess’s bad side, and ends up being bullied by all the petty socialite ladies, before the family feast begins.

The way they kick her and throw porcelain at her, so that she’d fall on the broken shards, is truly appalling, and I was SO GLAD when Buyi shows up to sweep her off her feet, right into a princess carry.

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YESS!!! 🤩🤩

And then there’s the way he immediately sits her down safely, retrieves her shoe, and then insists on putting it on for her.

My subs say, “Allow me,” which is very gentlemanly, and probably very much within Buyi’s intent, based on his tone, but what he’s says, literally translates to, “Sit well,” or you could say, “Sit tight.”

It’s in the same vein as, “be good,” from earlier, in that it’s an instruction, not a request, but it’s an instruction that comes with a lot of care and protectiveness.

Importantly, this would imply to anyone who hears him say it, that the relationship between him and Shaoshang, is pretty close.

And of course, the idea of that pleases me greatly, since all the bullies have a collective crush on Buyi. Take THAT, ladies. 😏

I’m SO SURE that Buyi’s fully aware of what he’s communicating to the ladies present, because after helping Shaoshang with her shoe, he makes sure to take her hand – her HAND! 🤩 – as they walk through the rubble back to the banquet hall.

And, he’s not shy about kicking the shards of broken porcelain out of the way either. There is anger in those kicks, and I’m sure he’s showing that anger on purpose as well. Which, GOOD, y’know?

Plus, the way Shaoshang goes back to her pancake with intent, picks it up and blows if off, feels like SUCH a great almost-insolent pairing for Buyi’s sarcastic congratulations to both the Third and Fifth Princesses. 😁

On hindsight, I’m more and more sure that in seating Shaoshang next to him at the feast, Buyi already had in mind to ask for the Emperor to broach the topic of marriage for him, right then and there.

I feel like seeing her getting bullied like that only strengthened his resolve to protect her, and I believe that in establishing that she’s his betrothed, he’s making it such that it becomes easier for him to protect her.

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Therefore, I think that even though Buyi’s definitely been wanting to marry Shaoshang for a while, he didn’t actually go there intending to bring it up, and that the bullying incident had acted as a catalyst for him to bring forward his plan to ask for her hand in marriage.

E23-24. It’s so cute how Wingman Emperor gets all excited the moment Buyi makes his request, because we all know that Wingman Emperor’s been waiting for this in no small way. 😁

I’m bummed that Yuanyi speaks so poorly of Shaoshang in order to get her out of the marriage agreement, because, even though I know that she’s doing this in order to not offend the Emperor, it still hurts to hear her talk about Shaoshang like this.

And, it’s not hard to see that Shaoshang’s hurt by her words as well, even though Shaoshang probably does understand why Yuanyi’s talking like this.

In the end, I do love how Shaoshang decides to handle the situation.

In fact, I do think that the way she handles it, is a result of her new, more considered, wiser perspective on things. I don’t think the old Shaoshang would have handled the situation as well, honestly.

I love how Shaoshang acknowledges that Yuanyi is telling the truth about her, and that she would not make a good wife, and then turns to Buyi and asks, “Even so, do you still want to marry me?”

And – AUGH!!! – Buyi’s answer, “Of course,” is SOOO much better than a simple yes! It’s basically  saying, “You didn’t actually need to ask, because there is no other answer, as far as I’m concerned.”

I just love how gentle he is, as he then adds on, “I never knew how wonderful I am to you. Similarly, I’m sure you don’t know that in my eyes, Cheng Shaoshang is the best lady in the capital.”

And, when Yuanyi tries to interject, Buyi is resolute, as he tells her not to interrupt him. Oooh.

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“Everyone says to marry a gentle and virtuous lady. Madam Cheng is fierce in battle and doesn’t lose to men on the battlefield. But off the battlefield, you are also in love with General Cheng. It’s clear to see that every couple is different and not as everyone says.

Shaoshang might not be an obedient lady in everyone’s eyes. But to me, she is the whole capital and the whole world’s best lady indeed.

She is pure and decisive. She dares to love and hate. She’s the only one who can walk alongside me in this world.

I will only marry her in my life.”

Swooon. The way he only has eyes for her, is just breathtaking.

And he does literally say, “If it’s not her, I will not marry,” which is so decisively resolute and romantic, at the same time. 😍🫠

And Shaoshang says yes!! Ahhhh!!! I literally clapped my hands, I was so pleased!

Also, I’m inordinately tickled that Princess Yuchang faints in response – but Wingman Emperor’s in such a good mood that he basically doesn’t care. Hahaha!

I do feel Buyi’s wistfulness though, as he looks in Shaoshang’s direction, but can’t make eye contact with her, because she’s too busy dealing with the looks from her parents.

This should be a joyous occasion, but sadly, our newly-betrothed couple don’t even share one meaningful gaze. Sniffle.

E25-26. I love that Buyi shows up to accompany her to Lou Yao and He Zhaojun’s wedding, because, really, nothing says “I’m more than fine,” like showing up to your ex-fiance’s wedding, being escorted by a much more outstanding man – who is your new fiance, yes?

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I’m glad that Buyi stands his ground in the face of Yuan Shen’s snide remarks, and states that he and Shaoshang will live happily and grow old together.

And, I did get a chuckle at the part where Lou Yao tries to intervene, and states that Shaoshang is the best woman in the world, and Buyi’s immediate reaction is to respond with an emphatic, “Of course.”

Tee hee hee. I love that he’s always so quick to sing her praises. 😁

E25-26. I’m glad that Ben’s wife Yanji is thoughtful to alert Buyi to the situation, so that he can do something to defend her, but I also do think that Buyi goes a little overboard with the way he flips over that screen to make his point.

On the one hand, he is standing up for her in front of everyone and making sure that everyone knows that they can’t bully his girl, but on the other hand, it does emphasize Shaoshang’s relative helplessness.

I can see how this would bother her, since she’s always been about freedom and personal agency.

I can believe that this incident causes Shaoshang to look at things differently, and see how he has a great deal of power, while she has none, and how she is, in a manner of speaking, moving from under the control of her parents, to be under the control of her husband.

And that’s why she becomes extra touchy when Buyi tries to stop her from eating that flatbread in the carriage on their way home after the wedding.

I actually appreciate that Show takes the time to explore these differences between them, because this affects the foundation of their relationship.

I’ve never really thought about it, but it’s true that as a military man, Buyi’s never had to discuss things with others; rather, his life has always been about taking orders and giving orders.

Even though he’s passionately in love with Shaoshang, it’s true that beyond that burning desire to love her and protect her, he doesn’t really know much about interacting with her in a way that makes her feel like she has respect and personal agency.

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E27-28. I have to say, the way Buyi brings Shaoshang home on his back is quite melty, even amid the funny of Shaoshang clinging to him like a little koala, and then treating him like a horse, and even slapping his butt to get him to go faster.

Hahahaha. Poor Buyi. 😂😭😂

And then, the idea that Buyi personally tends to a very drunk and very rowdy Shaoshang all night, is very melty as well. Sigh.. he really is very caring and sweet, underneath his supposed cluelessness, isn’t he? 😍

And, after all that, the fact that he still greets Shaoshang with a gentle smile, tender tones, and a bowl of hangover soup the following morning, is just – sigh – so lovely. 🫠

It’s just too bad that Shaoshang’s picking up on the controlling elements of his behavior, like how he tells her not to drink so much in the future, and that if she wants to drink, to only drink the medicinal plum wine that he gives her.

Again, this hits Shaoshang where it hurts, because she deeply desires independence and personal agency, and here he is, telling her what she can and cannot do, when they’re not even married yet.

I feel bad for Buyi, because this is the point where he candidly tells Shaoshang that he really doesn’t know how to get along with a family, and wants to learn, and this is valid too.

But Shaoshang’s feelings of being suffocated by his care and love, are valid too.

It’s just too bad that this all ends in an outburst where she tells him that she wants a life that doesn’t include him.

Gah. I can just see how much this crushes him, especially when he asks Shaoshang if she means it, and she says that she couldn’t mean it more.

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Buyi doesn’t betray it too much, but you can just see in his gaze that he’s just devastated by her words, even as he tells her that he will leave and return her freedom to her.

Gurgle. Poor Buyi!! 😭😭

Afterwards, I’m glad that Shaoshang learns from Lianfang, about the various ways Buyi’s been showing his care for her, from tending to her all night, to hunting a python, so that she could have a pair of snakeskin shoes, which purportedly keep her feet warm in winter, but won’t be hot in the summertime.

I’m also glad that Cheng Shi and Yuanyi have that talk with Shaoshang, to share their thoughts with her, not in a domineering manner, but in a reasonable, “wisdom from the wise” sort of a manner.

Altogether, this gives Shaoshang lots to think about – which is how we get that lovely highlight reel, of all the important, meaningful moments she’s shared with Buyi.

Ahhhh. Lovely. 😍😍

I do think that this is the first time Shaoshang’s considering all of his actions as coming from a place of love and care, rather than as a means to control her, and it’s just really gratifying to see a smile come to her face, as she thinks about Buyi.

My gosh, I wish Buyi could see her expression now, because I know that that would soothe his soul in a BIG way.

I’m so glad that Shaoshang’s rumination culminates in her realizing that she does like Buyi after all, and that she’d like to marry him.

Eee!!! 🤩 This is important progress, and I cannot wait for Buyi to learn of this, because our poor heartbroken general really needs to know that his lady love, well, loves him back. 😍

E27-28. Third Princess is pretty awful, and I’m glad that Buyi intervenes, when she orders her handmaiden to hit Shaoshang.

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Not only that, he makes it clear to Third Princess, that all her thoughts about him are basically delusional, and he literally only has eyes for Shaoshang, and that she is the only one for him.

Ahhh! The fact that he says all this in defense of Shaoshang, while they haven’t cleared up that whole “I don’t want you in my life” thing that’s hanging between them, endears him to me all the more.

To him, it doesn’t matter whether Shaoshang will end up breaking off the marriage as a result of her words; he is sincere and emphatic about wanting to marry only her, and it’s not conditional upon what she says or does in response.

HOW COULD I NOT SWOON IN THE FACE OF THIS?? 🫠🫠

I’m just SO GLAD that they have that conversation afterwards, where Buyi tells Shaoshang that he won’t break off their engagement, AND SHAOSHANG SAYS SHE WON’T EITHER.

That quiet moment of realization that washes over his face, as it sinks in that she’s essentially saying that she WILL marry him, and the glimmer of.. gratitude, that flashes across his face, is just SO PRECIOUS. 🤩🤩🤩

And that look of tamped down happiness, and that softness in his gaze, when Shaoshang says that he’s not as scary as the Emperor, is also so precious. He’s taking joy in the knowledge that she’s not as afraid of him as he’d feared, and awww, I just love that. ❤️

I’m also SO GLAD that he takes this opportunity to speak directly to the fear that Shaoshang has, that their marriage will be an unequal one.

“Cheng Shaoshang, I know you always doubted that our relationship would be unequal. You were always worried that I would oppress you.

Today, I will tell you this. I, Ling Buyi, treat you as my wife.

Everything I have shall belong to you. In the future, I will do everything I can to protect you. I will never oppress you. I will make you believe me.”

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Ahhh. I do think those are such important words for Shaoshang to hear, and I love that our supposedly rather clueless general, is able to articulate this so clearly, and in such a heartfelt manner, to her.

The fact that Shaoshang smiles at him in response feels like a Huge Deal, because I do think that this is the first time Shaoshang’s smiled at him directly, because of him. I love it. 🥰

His gratified, tamped down smile in response, is everything. 😍 I’m so happy that he’s happy.

Afterwards, I’m also really glad that when the Emperor tries to intimidate Shaoshang a bit, Buyi comes right in and positions himself right next to her, so that the Emperor has to recalibrate everything he says and does in relation to Shaoshang.

I love the little smiles that we see from Shaoshang, like when she gets to sit instead of kneel, thanks to Buyi being there. Guh. I just love the idea of her smiling because of him, y’know?

And then there’s how he makes that counterproposal to the Emperor, when the Emperor says that he’d like Shaoshang to live in the palace, so that the Empress can teach her the ways of the court.

Thanks to Buyi, Shaoshang won’t have to stay in the palace overnight, which is a great compromise. It’s no wonder she smiles at him in response. 🤩

Also, I just love the idea of Buyi picking her up in the morning, and taking her home at sundown, because this means that they’ll get to see each other every day. YES PLEASE. That sounds lovely! 🤩

E29-30. What I liked even more than this, is the conversation that Buyi and Shaoshang share, as they walk in the palace alone, afterwards.

I like how honest and open their conversation is, and how that’s fueled by the fact that Buyi can see Shaoshang’s real reason for raising a complaint against Wang Ling, without needing to be told.

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It gives me a bit of a thrill to think that he knows her better than she thinks. 🤩

And, when Shaoshang tries to explain herself, there’s a gentle aura of amusement about Buyi, as he listens. I like that a lot.

He’s not judging her for having an ulterior motive for raising the complaint; he just wants to understand her, which I love.

I also love how open and forthcoming Shaoshang is, in sharing how she feels about the Empress and the kindness that the Empress has shown her.

This makes me feel that Shaoshang is becoming more comfortable with Buyi, and that our OTP is therefore growing closer.

And, I also really like how Buyi positions his offer, that the next time Shaoshang is curious about the temperament of the Emperor &/or Empress, she can ask him, instead of risking her safety, by conducting tests like the one she just did.

Plus, have I mentioned how gentle he is, as he talks with her?? 🫠

And then there’s how Buyi offers to show her what kind of person he is, and then takes her by the hand, to take her to his secret place.

Ahhh!! The sight of them running together, hand in hand, while Shaoshang yelps a bit, that he should take care of his injured leg, is just the most lovely, heartwarming thing. 🤩

I love that he wants to show her more of himself, and I love that her first instinct, is to be concerned about his wellbeing! 😍

I have to confess, my heart leaped when Buyi addresses Shaoshang as Niaoniao, her family pet name. This in itself is an indication of their growing closeness, since only people who are very close to Shaoshang would use her pet name.

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And then flailed all over the floor, when Shaoshang tries to get up close to see the stars in Buyi’s eyes, and he leans in closer to her, to give her a better look – and then tell her that in his eyes, she is the brightest star of all.

Faint. That is so melty, seriously, especially when spoken in that gentle tone of voice that he reserves just for her. 🫠

I love that this causes Shaoshang to smile in response, because right now, any time these two smile at each other, I find my heart floating with happiness. 🥰

And I am SO thrilled that Buyi is so completely undaunted, when they are interrupted by guards on patrol.

Not only will he not run, he will not allow the interruption to get in the way of what he was about to do, which is to kiss Shaoshang on the forehead. Eee!!!

The unabashedness and unapologetic-ness of it all! The gentleness and sweetness of it all!! SO GOOD, y’all. 🫠🫠🫠

AND THEN HE HOLDS HER BY THE WAIST AND GAZES INTO HER EYES, like those guards were never there. Melt. This feels so intimate and tender, at the same time. Meltmeltmelt~

It’s no wonder Shaoshang stops to squee into the wall of her house, when she gets home. I mean, how could she not, right, after such a momentous milestone? 🤩

E29-30. I just love the idea that Shaoshang doesn’t get much sleep that night, from thinking about the kiss – AND NEITHER DOES BUYI. 😁

Tee hee hee! I love the idea that our stoic general gets so excited about his first kiss ever, that he ends up barely sleeping the entire night, and thus keeps his men up with him too.

And he must be staying up every night due to that excitement, since we see him getting progressively sleepier, as he takes Shaoshang to the palace each day. Hahaha. I am quite amused by this. 😁

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I just really love the idea that his relationship with Shaoshang is affecting him this much. 😁

E29-30. I appreciate that beat, where Shaoshang talks about how the Empress needs protection even though she’s a strong woman, and Buyi then asks Shaoshang in turn, why she thinks that she doesn’t need his protection, even though she’s a strong woman.

I also do love how Buyi lays out his heart so plainly, with such poetry, honesty and earnestness.

“Cheng Shaoshang. When I was 15, I once saw the clouds on Mount Kunlun floating between the sky and the mountain peak.

It was so pure that it penetrated the depth of my heart, just like how you looked at me when we were at Hua County.

I love how unrestrained you looked when you spoke to me. It always makes me happy. I also love that you don’t fear the powerful and the difficulties you face.

Remember this, you were the one who started this first.

I don’t give out my heart easily. However, once I do, I will never turn back.

However, if you cannot do the same, I would rather take back my heart.”

Oof. When Buyi talks about potentially taking back his heart, I felt it like a punch to the gut, because I can only imagine how devastated he would be, if he really were to take back his heart.

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He doesn’t give Shaoshang a chance to answer, but it does look like he’s given her food for thought, judging from the perplexed expression that she wears, as he turns to leave, and the rather lost expression that she can’t hide, when she sees that he’s not there with the carriage the following morning.

E29-30. I like how Buyi comes upon Shaoshang in the Eastern Palace, and immediately takes Shaoshang aside, by the hand, for a private chat.

That little bit of petty tension between them, where Buyi says he hadn’t been there to seek her out, and Shaoshang turns away, saying that then she won’t appear in front of him again, is just the sort of things couples squabble about.

And because this makes them feel even more like a proper couple, it does make me squee a little. 😁 Like, Eee!! They’re having a proper little (gentle!) lover’s spat! Heh. 😁

And then! How swoony is it, that Buyi just picks Shaoshang up and seats her on that parapet, so that he’s looking up at her, and then asks her, in that signature gentle tone – but with a touch of intensity this time – “Who hurt you?”

Awww I feel like he’s basically ready to go after whomever had the gall to hurt his Shaoshang, and punish them with the heat of a thousand suns. 🔥

And, even though Shaoshang fails to understand Buyi’s earnest warning about not getting involved in the affairs of the Eastern Palace, which is a bit of a bummer, I can’t help but be distracted by the facts that:

1, she addresses him as Zisheng! Ahhh! This is the equivalent of him addressing her as Niaoniao, because Zisheng is his birth name, and only close family members would have the privilege of using that name.

The fact that Shaoshang uses it, and uses it so casually, makes me feel, again, that they are closer than before.

2, she tells him earnestly that the whole reason that she’s coming to the palace, is because of him, because this is his world, and she knows that she will have to encounter these things, if they are going to be together.

And, she also talks about wanting to understand him as a person, which feels like such an important thing too.

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Awww, just look at Buyi’s face in response! He doesn’t betray it much, but that soft look that washes over his face makes me feel like he’s melting into a puddle on in the inside, because she’s doing this for him, and thinking of them as a single unit. Eeee! 🤩

And then, when Shaoshang backpedals and says that she’s really doing this for herself, I love the gentle way Buyi takes her hands in his, and tells her that it’s fine, that she can do what she wants to do, and he’ll be there to protect her. Melt.

Seriously. How is he this melty??? 🫠🫠🫠

I love – love, love, LOVE!! – that they then smile at each other, as they continue to gaze at each other. Gosh, I just love it so much, when they smile at each other, because of each other. 🥰😍

E31-32. Buyi tells Shaoshang how her good intentions might actually put the Crown Prince and the Empress in danger, and Shaoshang tells him that all she cares about, is following her heart.

In the midst of these opposing perspectives, that each have their own validity, the last thing that Shaoshang says is the thing that gives me pause.

It’s true that the only reason she’s facing all this, is because Buyi asked for her hand in marriage.

And it’s also true that after bringing her into his world, he hasn’t explained that world to her, in a way that would equip her so that she wouldn’t make the kind of mistake that he’s now talking about.

While Buyi is right, that Shaoshang shouldn’t have gotten involved, Shaoshang is also right, that he should have equipped her so that she would know to avoid the mistakes, and why.

It is really quite heartbreaking, when Shaoshang tearfully tells Buyi that she doesn’t know how to satisfy him, while still remaining herself. Aw.

I’m sad that Shaoshang won’t let Buyi take her home, but I’m also relieved that when she’s alone, she only sighs that it’s difficult being married to Buyi – and not something like she doesn’t want to be married to Buyi. 😅

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Like I said earlier, this really is something that the two of them need to work through, in order to have a lasting and healthy relationship.

E33-34. I am digging the way Buyi’s speaking with Shaoshang in more tender, persuasive, consultative tones now, because he now understands how important personal agency is to her.

I do love that scene when Shaoshang comes out of the palace, and refuses the offer that his men make, to take her home in the carriage.

It admittedly give me mixed feelings to see the way Buyi grabs Shaoshang by the waist and carries her against her will. Like, wait, she doesn’t want to be carried, and this is manhandling! – but ooh, how strong is he, to be able to lift her with just one arm.. 🤩😅

But, what feels more important, is the gentle and tender manner in which Buyi talks to Shaoshang, after he’s put her down.

Even though he grabs her by the wrist to stop her from going back into the palace in a huff, the action, which starts out forceful, manages to end with gentleness and care. How does he DO that? 🤩

(Also, how cute is it, that Buyi’s men all instinctively know to turn around to give the couple some privacy! 😁)

And then there’s the way he talks to her, so full of gentle earnestness.

“Shaoshang, I shouldn’t have raised my voice at you. I’m sorry. The matter of the tiger seals is very serious. I really don’t want you to get involved. That’s why I was harsh with my words.

How about this? Go and rest in Changqiu Palace. As for the rest, let me take care of it.

Is that all right?”

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I just love the fact that our general, who’s so used to only giving and receiving orders, is now talking to Shaoshang in a way that invites her opinion and consent. This feels like a big step for him, no? 🤩

Even though Shaoshang turns and walks back into the palace without saying a word, I do think that her manner has softened, because of how Buyi speaks to her.

At least she’s not going back into the palace in a huff, which I think is something.

E33-34. I love how Buyi comes to the rescue, with the tiger seals from his own family, that look almost like the real ones, because they were crafted by the same master.

And he does that, not for the Crown Prince’s sake, but for Shaoshang’s sake.

It’s true that if she’d been found out for faking the tiger seals, she would easily have faced a death penalty, for deceiving the Emperor, right?

And of course Buyi couldn’t let that happen to Shaoshang.

What impresses me the most about this, is not the fact that he would give up his family heirloom in order to save her, but that he does it so willingly, and without grudge or reproach.

That is so swoony to me, honestly.

I feel like many men might be willing to give up a family heirloom in order to save their wives, but they would have most likely made a big deal out of it, to ensure that the wife knew what a big sacrifice they’d made, on her behalf.

But, not our Buyi.

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He gives up those seals on principle, because he’s promised to protect Shaoshang, whatever the cost, and this is just one of the times when he needs to protect her. I love. I faint. I melt. 🫠🫠

I’m so glad for Qiqi, who gives Shaoshang some really important perspective, so that Shaoshang begins to properly appreciate just how much Buyi cares about her.

And, credit to our Shaoshang, the moment it registers in her head, she wastes no time in going to seek Buyi out – only to find him already waiting, outside the gate of her family home.

Awww. It looks like Buyi’s been guarding her home on days and nights when she hasn’t been at the palace. How devoted he is! 🫠

And I love, love, LOVE the conversation they have; it feels so needful.

She thanks him for his help with the tiger seals; he tells her that she needn’t say more about the tiger seals; he tells her that he doesn’t want her to ever feel forced to make up with him against her will.

She tells him that she doesn’t know how to be someone’s wife; she also tells him that she’s finally realized that even though she’d thought that she’d always been the one compromising and lowering herself, that he’s been doing that since the beginning.

He tells her that he shouldn’t have tried to restrict her, when he’s always loved her for being daring and brave; that he likes her just the way she is.

I can practically see Shaoshang blossoming in the light of his words. I love. 🫠

I also love that she then tells him that she’d wanted to tell him that she plans to treat him really, really well going forward, and that she will never forget his goodness to her this day, even when they’re old and gray. Aww!

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I feel like I can see Buyi’s heart melt into a puddle, at hearing her talk about them growing old together.

I can barely think straight, with the way Buyi steps in close to Shaoshang, and looking into her eyes, murmurs, “Shaoshang, let’s marry sooner. Would that be good?”

Ahhh! It’s so precious, the way she looks right back at him, and smiles happily and nods, at his suggestion.

I’m giddy from this, you guys. 🫠🫠🫠

E33-34. It feels really important that Buyi then wastes no time in bringing Shaoshang to see his mother, despite his mother’s delicate and unstable condition.

Part of me can’t help thinking that he should have told Shaoshang something about his mother’s situation before actually springing the reality on her, but Shaoshang handles it well, and validates Buyi’s trust in her.

Even though I’m bummed that Buyi gets bitten by his mom, I do love that Shaoshang is quick to bandage his hand for him, and that she is extremely understanding and supportive of this thing with his mom.

This is truly such a delicate topic for Buyi to talk about, and I love that he lays his cards out openly to Shaoshang, and I love that Shaoshang is unwavering on his side, and supports his position, of standing on his mom’s side, and not his dad’s.

Also, I can’t not mention the way Buyi tells Shaoshang that his love for her, is as steadfast as Uncle Cui’s devotion to Buyi’s mother. That’s very melty to me. 🫠

And then there’s the way Shaoshang responds, when Buyi protests that if she meets him at the palace, it would interfere with her studies.

“I can’t do two things at once. I can either focus on Her Majesty and palace matters or focus on you. Pick one.”

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I love how Buyi doesn’t miss a beat, and immediately answers, “I want you to focus on me.”

Tee hee hee! Good choice, Buyi!! 😁😁

AND THEN. When they decide to bring forward their engagement banquet to three days from then (Eee! 🤩) and Shaoshang starts talking about her previous engagement, I love how Buyi stops her in her tracks by kissing her on the lips. Double Eee!!! 😍😍

I do love his serious answer to her question, about why he’s sudenly kissing her, “In the future, if you still say something that I don’t like to hear, I will also use this method to block your mouth.”

Ahahaha!! Judging from the smile that plays at Shaoshang’s lips in response, I don’t think Shaoshang’s too upset about this plan either. 😁😁

E33-34. The way Lady Chengyang gets Lady Ruyang to crash the engagement party with her, is so dramatic, seriously.

I’m just glad that Buyi thinks to send word to Shaoshang, that she can be as sharp as she likes, in dealing with whomever she thinks needs dealing with, and that he will be there soon, and will cover for her, no matter what.

That’s an important reassurance, I feel, which gives Shaoshang a sense of his support, even though she doesn’t know the details of his plan.

I must say, though, Buyi’s grand entrance with the Emperor is something else – it should be illegal for a groom to look even more beautiful than his bride, I think? Coz Buyi looks absolutely glor-i-ous in that red outer robe. 🤩🤩🤩

E35-36. It is rather nice to see Shaoshang preparing for the Empress’s birthday banquet with such diligence, but the two things that really stand out to me, in that realm of things, are:

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1, Shaoshang finding out from the Empress that it had been Buyi who had requested that letter of commendation for Shaoshang, from the Emperor, so that she wouldn’t be bullied in the Lou household.

Aw. I’m glad that Shaoshang realizes all over again, just how much Buyi cares about her.

2, Shaoshang waxing lyrical about the sun and the moon co-existing as equals, gives us the explanation of our drama’s title.

Ahhh. So THIS is what love like the galaxy means! That she and Buyi would be able to co-exist as equals, both different from each other, but neither of less importance than the other.

That’s a lovely sentiment, and now that I understand it, I appreciate Show’s title all the more.

E35-36. It was really horrible to see Fifth Princess bully and threaten Shaoshang like that, by not only pushing her into the water, but even throwing stones at her – and then snakes too!

Ugh. UGHHHH. I hate that she’s so gleefully cruel about it, too. 😡

I’m so glad that Buyi goes to seek Shaoshang out that evening, at the palace, even though he doesn’t know that something’s up, and I’m so glad that Shaoshang ends up crying in his arms.

Awww. I’m sad that Shaoshang’s suffered, but I’m comforted by the idea that she feels safe in Buyi’s arms. 🥹

Honestly, watching her sob so hard into his arms, legit made me tear up too.

This really is the first time we’ve seen Shaoshang crying so hard over anything, so it really hits home, that she’s been very traumatized and hurt by the whole thing.

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I’m so glad that Buyi holds her tight and soothes her, because that’s exactly what our girl needs right now.

I’m rather disappointed that Shaoshang doesn’t tell Buyi what happened with Fifth Princess, despite his gentle coaxing, but I conclude that it’s not because she doesn’t trust him; I think it’s because she wants to solve this thing with Fifth Princess on her own.

I’m glad that Buyi does pick up on the fact that something’s wrong, and that it’s not just about Shaoshang missing home, like she says. But I’m also glad that he doesn’t push her, and lets her decide what to tell him and when.

He’s respecting her boundaries and her judgment, and that is very melty in itself. ❤️

I also love how gentle and intent he is, as he tell her that he’ll teach her about pressure points, starting with Mingmen (命门, literally, the door of life).

I am all up in a tizzy over how every step of this lesson just creates opportunity after opportunity for Buyi and Shaoshang to get extremely up close and personal.

The first twirl, after she pushes him (in demonstrating a form of attack), has her dipped in his arms.

And then, when she tries to show a retaliating move, the next twirl has her flat on her back on the bed, with his arm in the small of her back, for support.

And thennn, as she asks him if he can maintain his edge using just one hand, then no hands, he gets closer and closer to her, until he’s basically laying on top of her, and, well, rawrrr. 🔥🔥

There’s something very sexy about that vein popping on Buyi’s temple, as he lies there on top of her, like it’s taking all of his self-control, to not lean in and kiss her, right then and there.

And then I’m completely floored, as he takes her hand and puts her hand around his waist, into the small of his back, right at the Mingmen (door of life) pressure point, and tells her that henceforth, his life is hers.

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Fainnnnt. Puddle. Swoooonn. 🫠🫠🫠

I’m surprised that the request that Shaoshang makes of Buyi, is that he play the zither for the Empress’s birthday banquet, but I can also see how this would make for a priceless gift for the Empress – just like that poem, handwritten by the Empress’s own father.

How can all the other gifts compare to that, right?

I love-love-LOVE seeing how lovey-dovey Buyi and Shaoshang are, during the banquet, from her wiping the droplets of win from his lips, to them sharing the same wine cup, to her planting a kiss on his cheek, right there in front of everyone.

It’s A-DOR-ABLE, and I could watch them just be in a love-dovey world of their own like this, all day. 😍😍

E37-38. Ooh, this was a solid set of episodes, and it went in a direction that I hadn’t been expecting, but which I love, and didn’t know I needed. 🤩

First of all, even though the truth doesn’t come out during the initial confrontation with almost everyone present, I’m just so heartened to see that all Buyi cares about, is that Shaoshang is ok, and that all Shaoshang cares about, is that Buyi trusts her.

“Are you all right?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Of course.”

“That’s good.”

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I did not know that so much could be contained in so few words. 🤩 That unwavering mutual trust; the depth of care, shining out of Buyi’s eyes. I love. 😍

E37-38. Through the whole fallout of Fifth Princess’s bullying of Shaoshang coming to light, what I’m more interested in, is Buyi’s expression of growing horror and anger, as, piece by piece, he learns of what Fifth Princess had done to his Shaoshang.

From pushing her into the lake when she doesn’t know how to swim, to throwing rocks at her to prevent her from coming ashore, to releasing snakes into the water; the picture in his head grows more detailed and ominous with each reveal, and I can just imagine the extent of the turmoil in his mind, as he works to process all of this.

What I really appreciate, is that when Buyi takes Shaoshang aside to ask her about this, his tone is gentle. This feels really, really special to me, because he could have easily reacted by raising his voice at her in anger, for not telling him the truth, and for not trusting him.

But instead, his tone is gentle and tender, and that tenderness never leaves, even as his words grow in intensity.

My gosh, that’s a heady combination, and I’m honestly flailing all over the floor, as a result. 🫠🫠

Even when Buyi articulates the painful conclusion that Shaoshang doesn’t trust him, and doesn’t think he’s important, what I hear is hurt, and not anger.

Guh. The tenderness of his heart towards Shaoshang just really gets to me, can you tell? 😍

And, it does hurt me too, to see him so hurt, and to see Shaoshang so hurt as well, at the same time.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure where Buyi was going with his whole scheme, of blatantly beating up the families of all the girls who had assisted Fifth Princess, in her bullying and targeting of Shaoshang.

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But on hindsight, I do have to say that it’s quite brilliant, the way he basically demonstrates to Shaoshang what it’s like to love someone who throws caution to the wind and has no care for their own safety.

I wouldn’t say that he’s being petty, or giving her a taste of her own medicine; it’s more like he’s decided to show her what it would like, if they both lived by her rules, to take justice into their own hands, without care for the consequences.

Where before, Buyi had always been her voice of reason, now, with him leaning into the more reckless end of things, Shaoshang has to be the voice of reason for the both of them, and it’s really rather amusing, in a low-key sort of way – on hindsight, that is, once we know that Buyi’s alright. 😅

And, our Wingman Emperor really turns out to be Buyi’s wingman, this time, with the way he ensures that Buyi gets beaten, but only looks badly hurt.

Not only that, he’s so sneaky, the way he makes sure that Shaoshang gets to see just how much Buyi is suffering, with every stroke.

The growing desperation in Shaoshang’s face, and in her entire being, is so poignant to witness.

I feel like this entire process actually does help her to realize just how much she cares about Buyi; more than she’d ever realized.

The way she screams his name; the way she desperately pushes those guards away; the way she rushes to his side and holds him, the moment she is able.

The words that she tearfully ekes out, with her hands caressing his face, totally made me choke up.

“Does it hurt? I promise you. I will talk to you if I have any trouble in the future. I won’t act on my own anymore. We will act as one as husband and wife. From now onwards, I will give my heart to you.

Don’t act recklessly because of me anymore. All right?”

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And then I love how she throws herself over him, to hold him in her arms.

“Actually, I already fell in love with you back then. Why don’t you know that?”

Aw. Gurgle. I love this, so much.

This is the most overt expression of love that Shaoshang’s ever given to Buyi, and I feel like she’s surprising even herself, with the depth and strength of her love for him. 🥰

Through all of this, I don’t actually feel like Shaoshang’s been tricked, per se, although, technically speaking, she has been tricked, in a manner of speaking.

To me, it feels more like she’s been given the opportunity to see things from a different perspective, and has now realized, without even really trying, how she’s come to care for Buyi, more than she cares about her right to personal agency.

Now, she’s finally willing to compromise and act as part of a husband and wife unit, rather than act on her own, like she’s been used to, and that’s beautiful in itself.

It’s very sweet to see how Shaoshang now instinctively thinks about Buyi’s wellbeing, like how she worries that he doesn’t have a warm enough blanket, because the weather’s turned cold.

I feel like the old Shaoshang wouldn’t have thought of that at all, and I feel like it’s a very beautiful thing, that we get to witness her growth, that she’s now able to love someone else so selflessly.

I love how we get this newfound quality of hers, mixed with her classic mischievous self, in the way she sneaks into Buyi’s room with that blanket wrapped around herself – because that’s how she’s been warming it for him.

Awww. It’s cute and funny and I’m in a goofy daze just watching the two of them be all lovey-dovey together. 🥰

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And, I do love that line, where Buyi says, “I am extremely lucky to make you feel bad.”

The subs are a little perfunctory, and the real dialogue is more like, “To be able to receive Lady Shaoshang’s heart pains, is my fortune for three lives.”

..I can’t help but melt in the face of such tender, earnest poetry. 🫠🫠🫠

I love that Shaoshang kisses him first, on his forehead; that’s her proactively showing her affection for him, and I love that.

I love even more, the tender, bedroomy gaze he has in his eyes, as he slowly leans in to kiss her.

Melt. Flail. Swoon.

Honestly, that gaze just does me in. 🫠🫠🫠

And then how cute is it, that when Buyi murmurs, “Shouldn’t we wait until after marriage to do these things?,” and Shaoshang answers that that’s what she ought to say, Buyi’s suggestion is that they kiss again – so that she can say her line.

Tee hee hee. Honestly, Buyi looks like he’s about to succeed in giving Shaoshang another lovely kiss – except that she ducks away, just in time. Ah, they are just so cute and adorable! 😍

Afterwards, I just love how, as Shaoshang plays the flute for him, he just looks at her, like looking at her is the thing that gives him the most satisfaction in the world. 🥰

It feels fitting, that this is when they talk about the time Buyi had first set eyes on her, during the lantern festival, and how he’d known, at first sight, that she was the one for him.

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Aw, I love it. And I love how Shaoshang now gives Buyi her promise, that as long as he doesn’t forsake her, she won’t let him down either.

This feels like a new, deeper, stronger chapter in their love story, and I am so here for it. 🤩

E39-40. I’m glad to see Buyi and Shaoshang talk about things, in an open and thoughtful manner.

This feels new, in their relationship, and I like this new note of maturity and mutual trust.

I like how Shaoshang gives Buyi a new way of looking at the Crown Prince’s actions; this feels like a conversation between equals, and I like that.

I also like how Shaoshang talks Buyi into taking her with him for the investigation the next day, even though it’s highly unconventional for an official to take his wife – or, in this case, his betrothed – with him, for an investigation.

I also can’t help giggling at how Shaoshang promises that she won’t make any trouble, and Buyi’s unflappable, affectionate response, as he takes her hand, is, “When have you ever not caused trouble?”

Ahhh! So cute! 🤩

Once there, I also like how Buyi and Shaoshang work separately, each leaning into their own strengths, in order to solve the case.

Buyi presides over the men, while Shaoshang uses her smarts to investigate the crime scene.

It all works quite nicely, actually – until Shaoshang gets pulled into that secret room and is held hostage by the murderer, who turns out to be Liang Xia, Liang Sheng’s younger brother.

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It’s a dangerous situation for sure, but I just love how both Buyi and Shaoshang react, in this situation.

I love how Buyi is unhesitating and resolute in tearing down the house, when they can’t find Shaoshang.

He doesn’t care about everyone’s protests; to him, time is of the essence, and finding Shaoshang is much more important than not offending the Liang family.

And I love how Shaoshang is so bold and quick-thinking, to get Liang Xia to use her as a hostage, because she trusts that as long as she gets herself out of that secret room, Buyi will find a way to save her.

And he absolutely does.

Gosh, the way Shaoshang runs to him, the moment she has a chance, and the way he receives her with one arm, while tossing a dagger at Liang Xia with the other, all with a glorious swish of his cape, is just so spazz-worthy. 🤩🤩

And there’s so much heart in there too, with the way he looks at her with urgent worry, and asks what he’s supposed to do if something were to really happen to her.

And, there’s also the way Shaoshang tells him that even if she were to die, she wanted to be able to see him one last time.

Guh. The lovey-dovey is strong with these two, and I am loving it, so much. 🤩

E39-40. I really do like the scene where Buyi asks Shaoshang the hypothetical question, of what she would do, if she knew someone hurt her family, but can’t be punished by the law, and if taking revenge meant hurting someone she loves.

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I do love Shaoshang’s answer, which is so simple, but so wise, at the same time.

“As humans, making choices is inevitable. When you put the choices together side by side, one will definitely be more important than the other.”

Even though Buyi simply smiles in response, I feel like Shaoshang has managed to put things in perspective for him, and I do love the way he takes her into his arms for a hug.

You can just tell that he’s gaining comfort from her embrace, even though his gaze is still somewhat troubled.

E41-42. I really like the scene where Shaoshang and Buyi talk about the case and its resolution, as they walk together, while sharing an umbrella in the rain.

They look so settled, in each other, as they share their thoughts at leisure, about what’s happened to Consort Chu and Qu Lingjun.

And, I love the part where Shaoshang teases Buyi about being jealous of her praising another man, and then tells him that she must have saved all her luck, in order to meet him.

Awww. That is so sweet! 😍

I love that Shaoshang’s now so clear, both in her heart and mind, that it’s her fortune to have met Buyi, and I love that she isn’t afraid to tell him so.

It’s SO CUTE, that Shaoshang says that her judgment is good, only for Buyi to correct her, with a gentle, cheeky smile, that it’s HIS judgment that was good.

Tee hee! It’s true; he’s the one who fell for her first!

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I do love that in the midst of all this sweet, lovey-dovey stuff, which itself is sandwiched among the more political threads, Show still manages to toss in little scenes of random cuteness.

Like the one where Shaoshang says she’ll buy Buyi some preserved fruit, to sweeten his tongue some more – only for Buyi to agree amiably, then get his black guards to flank them in their signature intimidating manner, while they buy a packet of that preserved fruit.

Hahaha! I couldn’t help giggling, when Shaoshang explains to the stall-holder, that everything’s great about Buyi, except for his tendency for the conspicuous. 😁

But y’know, I do love that sense of flourish that he has, even though it can get a little much sometimes. It’s just so endearing, really, how he likes to go big, when it’s something to do with Shaoshang. 😁

E41-42. Our story turns to Buyi preparing to go to battle in Shouchun, and even though my heart sank a bit at the thought of him being separated from Shaoshang, I do like how Show handles it all.

For a topic that’s as serious as this, Show sure manages to squeeze a nice amount of sweetness and love, into its unfolding of the narrative. I am so grateful for that, seriously. 🤩

I love the beat where Shaoshang makes that sweet wine to bring to Buyi, because she knows that he didn’t eat well, because the Emperor had gotten angry during lunch, at Buyi’s request to lead the troops to Shouchun.

The happy looks on both their faces, as Shaoshang potters her way to Buyi’s corner, to serve him the sweet wine, are so precious. 🥰 And, it’s cute that they don’t even care that the Emperor gets peevish, that she serves Buyi first, heh.

And, I find it touching how Shaoshang helps to persuade the Emperor to allow Buyi to lead the troops to Shouchun, even though it means that he’ll be facing danger to life and limb, and that she’ll be separated from him.

It’s so touching, really, to hear Shaoshang say that, because she wants to be good to Buyi, she doesn’t want to restrain him, but support him from behind.

And how cute is it, that when the Emperor threatens to marry Shaoshang off to someone else if Buyi takes too long to come back from Shouchun, Shaoshang pipes up in her signature irrepressible manner, and says she won’t marry anyone else, but will wait for Buyi to come back to marry her.

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The way she smiles at Buyi, and the way Buyi smiles back, full of satisfaction, as he promises to come back quickly, is just so fantastic.

Aw! THE CUTE. I love. 😍

Afterwards, it’s very endearing to me, the way Shaoshang grabs Buyi’s face, the moment they’re alone, to get a good look at him. I love the idea that she’s so comfortable now, initiating skinship with her husband-to-be. 😁

Beyond the cute, though, I love Shaoshang’s answer, when Buyi asks her why she’d persuaded the Emperor to let him go to Shouchun, when she’s worried about him going.

“I know your uncle’s death and those who died in Gu City had always been a pain in your heart. You’ve never really let it go either. Her Majesty is not well. I need to take care of her in Changqiu Palace.

If I didn’t have to stay, I’d definitely go to battle and fight the enemies with you. Zisheng, I want to see you capture Peng Kun. I want to share the joy of having the great revenge avenged with you.”

Those words must be so precious to Buyi, because they speak directly to his deepest desire. I can just see the satisfaction, gratitude and contentment in his eyes, as he agrees with her, and promises to come back soon.

Ahhh, the way he draws her closer by the waist, and the way she puts her arms around his, feels so tender and intimate. Melt. 🫠🫠🫠

It’s cute and silly, and yet, meaningful as well, the way Shaoshang sews armor for Buyi as a gift, then sneaks into the soldiers’ camp, in order to give it to him.

Lol. The way everyone plays along, so that she manages to find Buyi without getting lost or getting caught, feels affectionately indulgent.

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I mean, these troops are preparing to go to battle, and yet, here they are, marching around and making sure to drop loud hints of which direction Shaoshang should go, to find Buyi’s tent, pfft.

But really, how great is that scene where Buyi shows Shaoshang the land that he’s asked for, from the Emperor, and tells her that she can design and build whatever she likes, for their new home together.

That’s speaking directly to Shaoshang’s deepest desires, for freedom and personal agency, and I just love that he understands that about her, so well, and finds a way to affirm that, in entrusting her with the building of their new home.

That’s so thoughtful and loving of him.

How endearing, though, that Buyi isn’t so sure of himself, when it comes to this, and starts apologizing for making the decision on his own, when Shaoshang’s eyes fill with tears and she doesn’t answer him immediately.

I love how she kisses him on the lips (the first time she’s done that! 🥰), and tells him that she really loves it.

Ahhh. The contentment between them is palpable through my screen, and I love it. 🥰

And then we have the cuteness of Shaoshang’s gift of armor to Buyi, and that whole thing about everyone thinking that the feathers represent chicken wings and not mandarin duck wings, hahaha.

It’s funny how everyone thinks it’s a super embarrassing set of armor, and it’s so endearing how Buyi wears it without blinking an eye. The unwavering loyalty!

And also – that winged armor might look ridiculous on someone else, but Buyi makes it look good. In fact, he looks quite majestic wearing those wings, along with his swishy cape. 🤩

It’s bittersweet to see Buyi mount the horse to leave for Shouchun, but DANG, does he look fantastically regal, as he does so. 🤩🤩🤩

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E43-44. It says so much about Buyi, really, the way he responds when he hears that Shaoshang and her family are in trouble.

Instead of waiting for Shouchun to crumble on its own, because he’s convinced they are short of provisions, he completely changes his plans, and smuggles himself into Shouchun, as the fastest (and most dangerous!) way to infiltrate the city.

The entire fight scene, where it’s Buyi against what feels like ten thousand armed soldiers, is quite stressful to watch, because it feels like he’s always just one hair away from being stabbed to death.

BUT, Buyi’s legendary for a reason, and it is admittedly pretty great to see him in top fighting form. PLUS, Shaoshang’s rabbit armor does save him from Peng Kun’s sword, which would have otherwise impaled him in the chest.

HUZZAH for Shaoshang’s rabbit armor! 🤩

E43-44. It feels like a relief, to see Shaoshang and Buyi have that conversation about all that has transpired, when she wakes up from her dead faint, and hear Shaoshang ask Buyi if he’s ok, and tell him not to risk his life again, even if it’s for her sake.

Again, this brings us back to how Shaoshang’s learned to care more for Buyi than for herself, and again, I just want to say that it’s a beautiful thing.

And, how lovely is Buyi’s gentle tone and manner, as he tells Shaoshang that she had saved his life, with her rabbit armor.

It also feels significant, that as Buyi talks about knowing how she feels, because he is the last remaining member of the Huo family, Shaoshang returns the same sentiment that he’d expressed before, that she is part of his family too, and he will therefore never have to fight alone.

Ahhh. It’s so meaningful, how that’s come full circle, in such a short period of time. 🥰

Gurgle. It’s such a beautiful moment of mutual expressed need. I love it.

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E47-48. In a weird way, it almost feels like the roles are reversed, between Buyi and Shaoshang.

Where before, it had always been Buyi who had trusted Shaoshang implicitly, and who had been the one to work to draw Shaoshang into trusting him and opening up to him, this set of episodes, it feels like now Shaoshang’s the one who’s doing that, with Buyi.

In principle, the role reversal sounds like a good idea, because Buyi shouldn’t always be the one to do the heavy-lifting in their relationship, but.. in execution, I found it uncomfortable.

In that scene where Buyi asks Shaoshang what she’s heard from Wang Ling, and Shaoshang lays out the things that she now knows, it’s disconcerting for me, because it’s a lot.

And, it feels like we’re getting to see a whole new side to Buyi – which makes me feel like I never really knew him, even though I’ve spent 40+ episodes with him?

What I do find touching, though, is that through it all, even though Shaoshang must be even more disconcerted than I am, she never wavers in her love and dedication to Buyi.

Even though she feels unsettled that she feels like she suddenly doesn’t know anything about him, she never once indicates that she doesn’t want to marry him.

Instead, she repeatedly works to make him feel safe enough to tell her the truth, with his own lips, even though she’s already pretty much pieced together the biggest secret, on her own.

This is admittedly a huge demonstration of devotion on Shaoshang’s part. We can see how much she’s grown and matured, from the time we first met her.

The old Shaoshang would have never been able to afford anyone this kind of trust and assurance, but here she is, doing it for Buyi, repeatedly, even though she doesn’t succeed in hearing the truth, each time.

All that said, I have to admit that on first viewing, I really struggled with the fact that Buyi does start to tell Shaoshang the truth, at least once, but eventually changes his mind, and tells her that there’s nothing to tell, when she asks him about it, the third time.

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It’s only on further thought, and on hindsight, that I realize that Buyi comes to the conclusion that he cannot give up his revenge, and because his last available witness is dead, there is no way for him to bring Ling Yi to justice, under the law.

And therefore, he knows that he will have to take the law into his own hands, and kill Ling Yi himself – which means that he would either die in the process, or end up being sentenced to death, for killing Ling Yi.

That’s why he’d shown up to “send off” Shaoshang from the palace, even though, as the groom, he’s not supposed to see his bride in the lead-up to the wedding. He wanted to see her one last time, before he walked to certain death.

And, I rationalize that he very likely didn’t want to tell Shaoshang about it, because, the moment he told her, she couldn’t not get involved. I am guessing that he didn’t want her to get involved, because it would be dangerous for her.

That’s the only reason I can think of, that would explain why Buyi would withhold the truth from Shaoshang, without negating the unwavering trust that we’ve seen him demonstrate towards her, time and time again, in all the episodes prior.

As for how Shaoshang becomes convinced that there’s something bad going down at Ling Yi’s house, I gather that it’s because the servant whom she’d sent with the birthday gift, had come back bearing news that there’s no celebratory atmosphere at Ling Yi’s residence.

The lack of fireworks probably is a big enough clue to Shaoshang, that something’s wrong.

Plus, she knows that there’s no love lost between Buyi and Ling Yi, and so, it’s already suspicious enough, that Buyi would agree to attend Ling Yi’s birthday banquet, particularly so soon after Junhua’s death.

Putting that together, it’s enough to send alarm bells off in Shaoshang’s head, which is why she is determined to head to Ling Yi’s residence.

While I still felt a touch of “where the heck are we, are we even still in the same show?,” it was in-principle gratifying to see Shaoshang’s parents and family rally behind her, to help her get to Buyi.

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As we end off the episode, Buyi’s successfully killed Ling Yi, which means that his revenge is finally complete.

The wretched bloody tears on his face are so hard to look at, though.

It’s clear that even though he’s succeeded in exacting his revenge for his family, the process has wrecked him, and I feel really sad for him, because even though he’s felt different to me, this set of episodes, I still do care about him.

I really hope that Shaoshang’s arrival will bring him some comfort, and I’m really, really hoping that Buyi won’t end up trying to push Shaoshang away, for her own good.

E49-50. There’s just so much that comes after “I’ve killed my supposed father for no apparent good reason because you have no idea about the truth and I have no evidence to prove that that’s the truth.” 😭

Through it all, Buyi’s just so determined not to involve Shaoshang or her family, because he knows that death is an almost certain thing, for him, for his bloody deed, and he doesn’t want her or her family to have to pay the price for his actions.

That’s why, even though it’s painful to watch Buyi distance himself from Shaoshang – from telling her that she shouldn’t have come to look for him, to telling her that their fate is over – I understand where he’s coming from.

He thinks that he’s a dead man walking, and that no good can come from Shaoshang associating with him. And that’s why he pushes her away; not because he doesn’t love her, but because he does.

He doesn’t want her to die with him, even though she says that she’s ready to do so; he wants her to live on and have a good life, even without him. Ack. My heart. 😭

I do love how Shaoshang is so determined to stick with Buyi till the very end, even though he’s literally cutting her off.

The way she rides onto the scene on that horse, when he’s being pelted with arrows, and extends her hand, to tell him that she’s come for him, is so badass.

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And the way he takes that hand without hesitation, is his true heart speaking. He doesn’t actually want to be separated from her, and in this moment where there’s no time to think, he instinctively takes her hand and cleaves to her, as they ride off, away from his would-be captors.

I couldn’t help cheering for Shaoshang, in this moment. What a heroine she is. 🤩 She probably doesn’t have a plan as to how they’re going to survive; she just knows that she needs to get Buyi outta there, and she act on it. I love that about her.

That’s why it hurts extra, when they get to that cliff, and Buyi throws himself off over the edge (in a very artfully filmed move, I just had to say), so that Shaoshang won’t have to die with him.

She was literally ready to die with him, but he wouldn’t accept that, and instead, chose to cut off their fate, so that she might live.

Gah. I can see why he would do that, but I can also see why this would hurt Shaoshang so much.

To her, this is him pushing her away, and disrespecting her personal agency, and essentially abandoning her, while going his own way, without regard for her words and desires.

What a difficult, difficult situation they find themselves in, sob. 😩

I can see why Shaoshang would fall so ill afterwards. Not only has she been through a lot physically, she’s drained mentally, and she’s deeply, devastatingly heartbroken as well.

It seems to me that Shaoshang’s poured out all that she could, for Buyi, from the bottom of her heart, and with all of her being, and that final rejection, was just the final straw for her, that causes her to decide that there is no going back, with her and Buyi.

And so, even when Third Prince comes to see her with the news that Buyi is alive, Shaoshang’s reaction is so tired and muted, like she’s too exhausted to care anymore.

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I’m glad that Shaoshang’s testimony comes in so useful, because her testimony is what causes the Emperor to issue the order to bring Buyi back.

E49-50. On a more poetic note, I couldn’t help but notice that it’s the Shaoshang string that saves Buyi – again.

The first time, it had helped to remove that arrow from his chest, and this time, it’s helped to keep him secured to the vines on the side of the cliff.

The difference this time, is that Buyi’s devotion is part of the equation. If he hadn’t been wearing that Shaoshang string, it couldn’t have saved him either.

I like this idea that his keeping Shaoshang close to his heart like this, literally helps to save his life.

It feels meaningful too, that Buyi would hold onto that string so tightly, that the physicians are unable to loosen his grip, to treat the wound underneath – until he hears the sound of Shaoshang’s flute.

It’s his subconscious awareness of her presence, that gives him enough peace of mind, to allow him to loosen his grip.

Augh. That really is very affecting, to think that Shaoshang has such a deep and strong effect on him.

I’m gutted that even as Buyi regains consciousness, Shaoshang falls ill, and becomes more determined than ever, that there is no future between her and Buyi, because she’s convinced that he’s never treated her with true sincerity, and has withheld a lot of himself from her.

I do get it, but it still hurts, y’know? 😩

E51-52. Augh, that scene where Buyi and Shaoshang finally come face to face, and Buyi retains that he had intended to abandon Shaoshang, and that he doesn’t regret it.

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It’s utterly heartbreaking, because I can see where they’re both coming from, and I can also see why they’re not budging from their individual stances.

Buyi had made his choice, and he feels the need to stand by that choice, even if the bloodbath is over now. It’s true that he’d decided to abandon Shaoshang, and he’s not going to deny it now, to make things easier on himself.

He’s not going to ask for forgiveness, because he knows that the choice he’d made, is unforgiveable.

As for Shaoshang, I can absolutely see why she’s so hurt and disappointed. She really had given her all to loving Buyi, and he had let her down, where it hurts her the most.

Plus, he’s not even asking for her to take him back now, so it seems the natural thing for her to do, to also lean towards dissolving their engagement and relationship.

Grargh. This is so hard to watch. 😩

E51-52. I’m relieved to see Buyi finally return to the Capital after 5 years instead of the 7 years that he’d planned, but it’s still heartbreaking, all the same.

It’s hard to see him be a shell of himself, all dull and lifeless, and it’s hard to see him come face to face with Shaoshang, only for their separation to be emphasized, all over again.

The way he looks at her, so intently, even from afar, is quite arresting, honestly. It feels like he’s trying to memorize her face, maybe, because he thinks that he might never see her again, which, oof. 😭

And then when Shaoshang opts to turn away from him and get on that horse, he doesn’t miss a step, or bat an eye; he goes straight to adjusting her stirrups for her, just like he’d used to do.

Not gonna lie; that flashback to a happier Buyi, with so much life and hope in his eyes, was sharply, deeply poignant, because of the extreme contrast to how Buyi is now, in the present, with none of that life or hope left in his countenance. 😭💔

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I can’t help but feel disappointed that Shaoshang rides away from Buyi without any sign of hesitation, after informing him that she’s much different from the Shaoshang of before, and can now ride even without stirrups, thankyouverymuch.

[END SPOILER]

Zeng Li as Yuanyi

My gut tells me that Yuanyi as a character is likely to divide viewers.

I feel like some viewers would really, really like her, while others would likely find her overly strict with Shaoshang as a mother, and therefore less likable.

I personally really like Yuanyi.

Generally speaking, I just love that she’s a badass warrior at heart, who isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in, and I also love that she’s observant and sharp. Together, these traits just make her feel like a strong woman who’s not to be messed with.

I also really appreciate that Show gives us glimpses into Yuanyi’s vulnerabilities, because, for me, that helped to round her out as a person. She may be a badass, but she’s a badass with heart, and that heart can and does get hurt, from time to time.

While it’s true that Yuanyi can be quite harsh with Shaoshang, it’s consistently clear to me, that Yuanyi always has Shaoshang’s best interests at heart.

I’ll talk more about her relationship with Shaoshang in another section shortly.

Guo Tao as Cheng Shi

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I have a big ol’ soft spot for Cheng Shi, Shaoshang’s father, because of how good-natured and affable he is.

He’s a patient son, considerate husband and doting father, and I am fond of him for all those reasons.

As a bonus, he can be a bit of a dork, which just made him all the more endearing.

Cheng Shi and Yuanyi

Although this relationship isn’t front-and-center in our story world, I just wanted to say that I really liked Cheng Shi and Yuanyi as a couple.

First of all, they balance each other out really well.

Where Yuanyi might be impatient and sharp, Cheng Shi has goodwill and patience to spare. And where Cheng Shi might be a little obtuse sometimes, Yuanyi’s clear thinking and strategic mind more than makes up for it.

[MINOR SPOILER]

And then, I do love the detail that Show drops in episodes 1-2, that Cheng Shi isn’t judgmental of Yuanyi’s past (that this is her second marriage), and he’s unabashed about wanting her and no one else.

Aw. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?

[END SPOILER]

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Shaoshang and Yuanyi

The relationship between Shaoshang and Yuanyi is one of the more key ones – and also, one of the more contentious one – in our story world.

Like I mentioned earlier, Yuanyi can be overly strict and harsh with Shaoshang, and Shaoshang, with her carefree nature, does not take well to this at all, which creates strain in their relationship.

To make matters worse, Yuanyi often appears to hold Shaoshang up to a stricter set of standards than she does with Yangyang (Xu Jiao), Shaoshang’s cousin.

On this note, I thought it would be relevant for me to mention that many Chinese parents actually hold their own children to higher standards than they would other children, and are stricter with them than necessary.

It’s also not typical for a Chinese parent to praise their own children. Instead, it’s more typical for a Chinese parent to single out the areas where the child can continue to improve, so that the child can become even more excellent.

I thought it would be helpful to mention that because, in this context, Yuanyi really isn’t being that weird of a mother. In fact, Cheng Shi is a more unusual father, for being soft on Shaoshang.

This might be hard to accept with our modern sensibilities, but I do think that even now, many Chinese folks (whether born and raised in China, or born and raised elsewhere in the world) would be able to identify with the experience of growing up with very strict parents with extremely high expectations of their offspring.

As an example, the top scorer in my year in elementary school, typically used to get full marks for every test she took, for all 6 years of elementary school.

And on the occasion she scored something like 95 out of 100, instead of 100 out of 100, she did get scolded by her mother, for being careless.

It sounds ridiculous to us now, but that did happen, and it wasn’t even that shocking, really, because we understood the mindset of what is now commonly known as tiger parenting.

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I appreciate that over the course of our story, Show paves the way for Shaoshang and Yuanyi to come to understand each other better.

It’s quite organically handled, in that this mother-daughter relationship isn’t ever perfect, but it definitely goes through growth milestones.

One of my favorite things in this show, was being able to see the times when Yuanyi and Shaoshang ended up being on the same side, backing each other up.

These two are more similar than they realize, and make such good partners, when the occasion calls for it.

Here are just two instances where I loved seeing Yuanyi and Shaoshang on the same side.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E19-20. One of the most satisfying scenes for me, this set of episodes, is when Yuanyi and Shaoshang go over to the Lou residence, and basically end up being awesome partners, as they take on Lou Yao’s aunt (Cao Yan Yan), and Lou Li (Melody Tang), respectively.

The sharp words are one thing, but that slap that Yuanyi delivers is so sharp and satisfying. And then, Show takes it one step further, by giving us a bonus slap, which Shaoshang delivers to Lou Li.

Ahhh. Yuanyi and Shaoshang are so alike, and when that similarity is channeled fruitfully like this, with them standing on the same side, and defending each other, it’s just glorious to behold. 🤩

E33-34. I’m not surprised that Lady Chengyang (Zhao Zi Qi) presents herself at Shaoshang’s home for an audience, since she’s Buyi’s stepmother. What I am surprised about, is how overtly unwelcoming Shaoshang is, towards her.

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I’d imagined that Shaoshang would still manage to be rather polite, even if she remains unwelcoming of her, but she’s just outright disrespecting Lady Chengyang.

What surprises me even more, is that Yuanyi backs up Shaoshang so completely, even though we hear later, that Yuanyi does have her concerns about Shaoshang being so obviously offensive towards Lady Chengyang.

Aw. I do love that Yuanyi’s now in a place where she would back Shaoshang up so completely, even when she might have reservations about Shaoshang’s chosen position. The solidarity!

How far this mother-daughter pair has come, yes? 🤩

[END SPOILER]

Shaoshang and her brothers

I just wanted to say, that I really liked the bond between Shaoshang and her brothers, despite the fact that they didn’t grow up together.

[MINOR SPOILERS]

E5-6. I kinda love when the brothers arrive, and start to fuss over Shaoshang almost right away.

I find it so very heartwarming, that even though this is the first time Song and Shaogong (Jiang Yi Ming and Mickey Zhao) are meeting their sister, they are so protective of her, and want to take care of her.

The immediate sibling rapport they have is very heartwarming as well; it’s almost like they grew up together, instead of having spent their entire lives apart.

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It’s super endearing.

[END SPOILER]

Xu Di as Madam Cheng / Gran

I think that Gran is another character that might be potentially divisive, in the sense that you probably either love or hate her. 😅

Mainly, she’s a huge drama queen, so you’d probably either find her completely insufferable, or ridiculous and silly.

I personally found her rather exasperating, but still on the entertaining side of things, thanks to Show obviously treating her big ol’ wailing, flopping antics as comic and harmless.

This tells me that Show isn’t taking her dramatics too seriously, and doesn’t expect us to treat it too seriously either.

Happily, Gran’s heart and sincerity does become clearer, as we progress through our story, so that helps as well.

Peng Yang as Shunhua 

Third Aunt Shunhua only appears in our earlier episodes, but I wanted to give her a quick shout-out as well, because I found her to be such a gentle, wise and persuasive voice of reason.

I like how she looks at things with a fair eye, and isn’t afraid to speak up when she feels that Yuanyi is being unfair to Shaoshang, even though Yuanyi is the mistress of the house.

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I liked her a lot, because of that.

Yu Cheng En as Lou Yao

In our early episodes, Lou Yao is introduced as a potential suitor for Shaoshang, and I just wanted to talk a little bit, about his connection with Shaoshang.

Clearly, we know that he will not be romantic endgame, since all of Show’s posters and promo material already inform us that Shaoshang’s destined to be with Buyi.

However, I do appreciate that Show makes the connection between Shaoshang and Lou Yao somewhat meaningful, all the same.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Clearly, Lou Yao thinks that Shaoshang is very special indeed, otherwise he wouldn’t insist on trailing Shaoshang to Hua County, even after she makes it clear to him that she has no interest in him.

And honestly, I do think that it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time, that leads to the eventual engagement between Lou Yao and Shaoshang.

Because of everything that goes down in Hua County, Shaoshang needs a friend more than ever, and since Lou Yao’s the only other person around her age whom she can hang out with, that causes their relationship to develop as much as it does.

If they were back home instead of in Hua County, I doubt Lou Yao would have managed to get as much time and attention from Shaoshang as he does in Hua County.

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However, I must say that I don’t feel any romantic tension between Lou Yao and Shaoshang, even when they are engaged. They really do strike me more as a pair of friends and comrades, rather than as a pair of lovers.

Even the way they study those love and romance scrolls together feels like a conversation between comrades rather than one between lovers.

Honestly, the thing that stands out most in my memory, when it comes to this relationship, is the ending of their engagement, in episodes 21-22.

I think the most impressive thing, is when Lou Yao gets all upset about the breaking off of the betrothal, and Shaoshang takes him aside to talk with him, only to return with Lou Yao in a completely different frame of mind.

In talking to him about ending their engagement, so that he can marry Zhaojun, I’m touched that Shaoshang remains so earnest and heartfelt in how she shows Lou Yao another point of view.

She is so empathetic and caring towards him, even as she tells him that she wants him to be able to love Zhaojun, and yet, at the same time, be able to stand up to her, if she tries to bully him.

This feels like true care, even though I’ve never been convinced that she actually loves him in a romantic sense, and it feels like a sensitive, fitting way to wrap up their relationship.

[END SPOILER]

Li Yun Rui as Yuan Shen

At about the same time that Lou Yao’s introduced as a potential suitor for Shaoshang, Show also introduces Yuan Shen, who also turns out to have a special interest in Shaoshang.

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On this point, I wanted to talk a little bit about how Yuan Shen shows his interest in Shaoshang, because this might not be immediately apparent to international audiences who are not familiar with Chinese customs.

[MINOR SPOILER]

In episodes 5-6, Yuan Shen is impressed with Shaoshang’s wit in solving his riddle, and responds by throwing her his embroidered ball.

Now, this is significant in Chinese custom, because the throwing of an embroidered ball indicates an expression of romantic interest and affection.

This act is known as 抛绣球 (pāo xiùqiú), where 绣球 was used to symbolize love. Therefore, throwing an embroidered ball was like giving or offering your heart to someone.

Which means that the highly revered and elusive Mr. Yuan is officially smitten with our Shaoshang – and she’s bluntly rejected him, by tossing that embroidered ball right back at him. Oops. 😅

Granted, in Chinese tradition, it’s typically the ladies who toss their embroidered balls to the men whom they take a fancy to, but the significance of the embroidered ball is still relevant.

[END SPOILER]

I feel that it’s actually quite helpful, that Yuan Shen shows his interest in Shaoshang by tossing her his embroidered ball, because for a good chunk of our story, Yuan Shen’s actions are a little bemusing and ambiguous, when it comes to Shaoshang.

Mostly, it kind of feels like he’s like a little boy at the playground, who decides that the best way to get the attention of the girl he likes, is to tug at her pigtails and make fun of her.

..Definitely not a great look, for a potential romantic suitor, at least in my books.

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Zhang Yue as Qiqi

Qiqi is one of my favorite supporting characters in our drama world.

It’s great how loud and unabashed she is, but beyond that, I love even more, how forthright, generous and loyal she is.

I love how quick she is to defend and protect those whom she cares about, never mind whom she might be up against.

She’s an outspoken, undaunted handful, and I kinda love that.

My absolute favorite Qiqi moment is in episodes 45-46.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E45-46. I was pleasantly surprised by how Qiqi visits Song in prison, while wearing a wedding dress underneath her disguise, because she’s determined to marry him, even if he’s quite possibly going to die.

I found the whole thing very endearing, because I do think that if not for the circumstances, Song and Qiqi would have likely danced around their feelings for each other, for a long time, given the tricky detail that the Wan household is one where men marry into the family and not the other way around, and the Cheng family would likely never agree for Song to do that.

It’s a pretty big deal for a man to marry into a woman’s family, because, afterwards, for all intents and purposes, he belongs to his wife’s family.

Therefore, after marriage, he’s not even going to hold memorial services for the elders in his family, because he’s considered exited from his family.

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I honestly think that if it weren’t for the circumstances, where everyone believes that they’re all going to die soon – Song included – I doubt Song and Qiqi would have managed to get permission to marry.

But with death allegedly almost at their door, Grandma and Yuanyi probably felt more able to put aside all their previous misgivings, to be moved by Qiqi’s sincerity.

Honestly though, who wouldn’t be moved by Qiqi’s sincerity?

She’s determined to marry Song and no one else, even if he’s likely going to be beheaded soon, and she promises to hold memorial services for him and his family, if they’re really going to die.

And, if he refuses to marry her, she’s ready to cut off her hair and become a nun, so that she will never marry anyone.

She’s so determined and so singleminded – singlehearted, really – that I can totally see why it would move Grandma and Yuanyi.

Gosh, I love her. 🤩

[END SPOILER]

Bao Jian Feng as Emperor Wen

Our Emperor is honestly nothing like other Emperors that I’ve seen in other cdramas.

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I’m so used to seeing emperors being revered and tiptoed around, in period dramas, and yet, here we have an amiable, caring Emperor, who’s nosy about Buyi’s love life, and seems to want nothing more than have Buyi happily married off.

Our Emperor is basically Buyi’s biggest wingman, and the ultimate mother hen, and I find that completely and utterly endearing.

Tong Lei as Empress Xuan

I really, really like the Empress as well.

She’s so kind, caring and appreciative towards Shaoshang, even though Shaoshang isn’t equipped with the gentility and manners of a noble lady.

And, our Empress is so gentle and wise as well, and so accepting and motherly towards Shaoshang, that I can’t help but love her, basically.

It warmed my heart to see Shaoshang basically blooming like a beautiful flower, as she basks in the warmth of the Empress. 🥰

Cao Xi Wen as Consort Yue

I also find myself really liking Consort Yue.

She is such a straight-shooter, and she always looks completely unruffled as well. She always says whatever she feels needs to be said, and is completely fearless about it.

Not only that, everything that she says, feels well-considered and balanced. To my ears, she sounds like perfectly reasonable and logical, and not at all like the other petty ladies dotting our drama landscape.

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She is a force to be reckoned with, and I love her.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E31-32. I just love how Consort Yue basically puts a stop to Lady Ruyang’s attempt to mess with Shaoshang.

The subtitles are quite polite, translating what she says as, “If someone doubts your future wife, just ignore their foolish attempt.”

What she really says, is, “If someone doubts your future wife, they’re all just farting.”

HAHA. Oh my. How very crude, really, for royalty, but she just lets that fly, and with emphasis too. 😂

No wonder Lady Ruyang looks so insulted. 😁

I love how Consort Yue effortlessly holds court with her regal sharp-witted zingers.

[END SPOILER]

Sun Kai and Zhang Chen as Ah Fei and Ah Qi

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Last but certainly not least, I just had to give a shout-out to Ah Fei and Ah Qi, who are Buyi’s loyal righthandmen from start to finish of our story.

I love how loyal and caring they are to him, and I love seeing them back him up, from the little things, to the big things.

Even when the situation puts their lives in danger, they are always by Buyi’s side, and I found myself growing very fond of them, despite their relatively small role in our story.

Also, shout-out to Ah Fei, who’s the busybody between the two, and often bears the brunt of Buyi’s gruffness, thanks to his garrulous tendencies. 😁

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Full disclosure: I was going to talk about Show’s last 4 episodes as two separate pairs, but honestly, now that I’ve gotten to the end, I’m rather overwhelmed with thoughts, and I’ve decided that it would be more satisfying to just talk about all 4 episodes at once.

All in all, this was a very solid ending, to a wonderfully absorbing ride.

I know I did talk about how Show seems to get a little disjointed in its late stretch, most likely due to the heavy editing that was done to get Show down to 56 episodes to accommodate its assigned time slot, but I do feel like Show reins that in, for the finale, so that what we get feels intentional and whole.

Yes, it’s true that it does feel like we jump from some plot points to others in a somewhat fast and disjointed manner (like, what’s the explanation behind Shaoshang and Yuan Shen’s engagement not being real, if she’d really gone to visit his parents with him?).

But, I reckon that that, again, has to do with Show’s tight timeline, which resulted in some of that context ending up on the cutting room floor.

More to the point, last set of episodes, I’d mused that for Shaoshang to finally come around and forgive Buyi, Show would likely have her in danger, where Buyi then swoops in to save her.

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And I was right, but I also wasn’t?

What I mean is, I was right that Jitong decided that she would have it out with Shaoshang, and that that basically involved trying to kill her. And I was right that Buyi swoops in to save the day.

But I was wrong in thinking that that might be enough to break through the strong hedge that Shaoshang’s erected around herself, particularly with Buyi.

Then I thought that perhaps the Empress, in talking to Shaoshang on her deathbed, might be the one to get Shaoshang to reconsider her stance.

And the Empress does talk to Shaoshang about it, but in the end, this is not the thing that causes Shaoshang to change her mind.

It literally takes Buyi almost dying, for Shaoshang to get through that hedge, to embrace Buyi again.

And you know what, I think it makes sense.

Because, in the first place, the depth of betrayal that Shaoshang had felt, had been so deep that it had nearly killed her.

She’d given all that she thought she could give, towards loving and trusting Buyi, and when he’d forsaken her and forsaken her heart alongside, it had gone bone-deep – soul-deep – into Shaoshang.

If she’d changed her mind any more easily, it would have.. cheapened her pain, in a manner of speaking?

Also, it’s an echo of sorts, to that time when Shaoshang had let go of the last of her reservations, when she’d been desperate to protect Buyi from the whipping that he was getting, for beating up the families of the girls who had bullied her.

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With Shaoshang, her principles run so deep, that it essentially takes a life-and-death sort of situation to break through to her true heart.

And with this betrayal by Buyi being such a profound one, I would believe that it would take Shaoshang thinking that he’d literally died, for her true feelings to overcome all her hurt and reservations.

That said, at the same time, I do think that the other incidents leading up to Shaoshang’s change of mind have a cumulative effect.

She may not have changed her mind about Buyi when he’d saved her from Jitong’s murderous plan, but I’m sure that it had planted a seed, y’know?

And while the Empress’s last words to her may not have, in themselves, changed her mind about Buyi right away, those words had planted a seed as well, I’m sure.

Altogether, this has an overall effect of nudging Shaoshang’s thoughts and feelings towards Buyi, in a mounting sort of fashion, I’d like to think.

And then, the sight of him choosing to put her wellbeing over his own, as he very possibly dies in the fire, is just the final straw that breaks through all of her reservations and pain, to help her see with clarity, finally, that she would forgive him and live with him, if she could.

Sure, it is a stretch that Buyi would be able to find an exit through a secret passageway so quickly, since the explosion happens very soon after the trapdoor closes on him, but I’m willing to close my eyes and believe that our general is very fast on his feet, especially when his life is on the line.

Also, I just can’t bear the thought of Buyi NOT making it, so I’m going to willfully throw all need for logic out the window, and just revel in the sight of him coming back to Shaoshang, safe and sound, and not too much worse for wear.

I love the way Shaoshang ruuuns to him and throws her arms around him, and I love how his first, very earnest, words to her, are, “Shaoshang, are you forgiving me? Don’t deny it later.”

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Awww. I love it when our badass general is also a smitten puppy, and there is something so earnest, heartfelt and tender, in the way he seeks this confirmation from Shaoshang.

I have to admit that I felt a little bummed that our newly reconciled lovebirds couldn’t bask in each other’s presence for a little longer, but I do appreciate the significance of them working together, to prevent a calamity from befalling their entire nation.

It’s larger-than-self, stirring stuff, to see Buyi and Shaoshang choose to trust each other wholly, and apply themselves to their chosen tasks, to save the people they’ve committed to saving, while believing fully in each other, that they would come out of this victorious, together.

I do love that Shaoshang’s entire family comes to join her in protecting the village, even though Show is not clear on how her family even knows to come to Guo Village.

But, y’know, whatever, at this point. It’s just great to see the entire family rally around Shaoshang.

And, on a side note, I’m particularly tickled at the fact that even Yangyang, who looks like she has nothing to do with being on a battlefield, is togged out in armor, and happily yelps in response, in the tiniest high-pitched voice, when Shaoshang assigns her to help put out the fire with sand. Tee hee. Cute!

It’s great that our people come out victorious, but really, the most stirring moment of all, is when Buyi hurries to Guo Village, and is reunited with Shaoshang, all over again.

The slo-mo hug, with them mutually embracing each other, with such gladness and relief, is a sight for sore eyes, seriously. 🤩

FINALLY. My OTP is together again, and this time, they don’t have to hurry off anywhere, to save anyone. They can finally just BE together, and that feels so hard-earned and precious.

After all the fighting and drama, Show works to serve up some levity via some lighthearted moments with our various characters, but, not gonna lie, my eyes were only for our OTP.

I love their conversation, as they stand looking at the stars, and in particular, my favorite part is when they tell each other that they’re lucky to have met each other.

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“Zisheng, your character and personality are just like a newborn child’s. You’re the best man in the world. I’m lucky to be able to encounter you.”

“Shaoshang, you’re the purest, kindest, and most steadfast lady I’ve ever encountered. You’re the best lady in the world. I’m lucky to be able to encounter you.”

Specifically, I like the original dialogue, which is more poetic than my subs.

Both of them actually say, “To be able to encounter you, is my fortune for three lifetimes,” which echoes Buyi’s earlier words to Shaoshang, when he’d told her, after his whipping, “To be able to receive Lady Shaoshang’s heart pains, is my fortune for three lifetimes.”

Alongside this, I also like the idea that Buyi has gained not just a wife, but a family, as he joins hands with Shaoshang in marriage.

I’m a little bummed for our Wingman Emperor that he has to miss the wedding, which will take place in Hua County, because he is THE mother hen of all mother hens, in this drama world, and he’s been dreaming of marrying off Buyi for years.

More importantly, the Emperor is literally Buyi’s foster father, so he’s not just being randomly busybody, about wanting to witness Buyi’s wedding. He’s a de facto parent to Buyi, and I feel that they should have accorded him that honor.

I’m also rather disappointed that we don’t actually get to see the wedding, and that we don’t get to see Shaoshang and Buyi live in that dream house that Shaoshang’s talked about building, on that piece of land that Buyi’s shown her.

But, I can rationalize that the Emperor could easily decree that they need to have a second wedding, when they get back to the capital, and then he’d be able to make it as grand as he likes.

And, I can also quite easily picture the wedding in Hua County, with all the warmth of family and friends surrounding Shaoshang and Buyi, as they officially become husband and wife.

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Mainly, I’m just grateful to be able to see Buyi’s and Shaoshang’s smiling faces, now that they’re together again.

Those contented smiles are so precious, and tell me that, as far as they’re concerned, all is right in their worlds, because now they have each other, and will face everything in life, and in the world, together. ❤️

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Beautiful, absorbing and addictive, in spite of a few rough edges. Worth a binge – or several.

FINAL GRADE: A

TRAILER:

MV:

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Love Like The Galaxy, is Under The Queen’s Umbrella. I’ve taken an initial look, and I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it a lot more than I’d expected to. 😁 My E1-2 notes on Under The Queen’s Umbrella can be found here.

Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!

Foundation Tier (US$1): Entertainment tidbits (every Sunday!) + the first set of notes of all shows covered on Patreon (2 eps for kdramas, 4 eps for cdramas)

Early Access (US$5): Under The Queen’s Umbrella

Early Access Plus (US$10): +Love Is For Suckers

VIP (US$15): +Love In Contract

VVIP (US$20): +If You Wish Upon Me

Ultimate (US$25): +Love Between Fairy And Devil [China]

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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