THE SHORT VERDICT:
Show is not without its rough edges, but it works out to be more than enough slurpy fun, and more than enough of an epic love story, that I was more than happy to just roll with the stuff that didn’t grab me as much, in our story, to get to – yes – our happy ending.
Esther Yu is as cute as a button in this, which is fantastic, but it’s Dylan Wang who really shines for me, as our titular devil. He shows way more range than I’d thought he had, AND he looks amazing, in an almost surreal sort of way, through the entire journey.
My eyes; they were quite pleased. 🤩😁
Best of all, this OTP shares pretty excellent chemistry, from the bickery silly stuff, to the swoony, skinship end of the scale, and their loveline makes for a pretty great backbone to our story.
Very solidly worthwhile, in my opinion.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Y’know, after loving 2017’s Ten Miles Of Peach Blossoms (review here!), I hadn’t had any success with enjoying the xianxia genre, and was just about ready to admit that maybe Peaches had just been a fluke (or maybe I just love Mark Chao as Ye Hua 😍), and this genre’s just not for me, as a general rule.
But then, this year, when I heard all the positive buzz around this show – that it was lots of fun, despite not being the most amazing thing evar – I couldn’t help but want to give it a chance.
Because, what if it happened to be great, right?
36 episodes later, I’m happy to report that I’m glad I took a chance on this one. It might not be perfect, but Show has more than enough on its bones, for me to have had a no-regrets good time with it.
It turns out that all I need is a xianxia show to be solidly well-done, to enjoy it – and this one is.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
Overall, I found the music nicely immersive. It helped to make the key moments pop, and it also amplified the feels, as I watched.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I do think I have a soft spot for Track 2, Find You / Looking For You. It’s breezy while being heartfelt, and the refrain just brings on the feels, for me. 🥰
Here it is as well, in case you’d like to just listen to it on repeat. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. This show is best binged.
Just like I’d mentioned in my recent review of Love Like The Galaxy, I find that most c-dramas are best enjoyed in large servings of approximately 4 episodes in a single sitting.
This approach makes everything go down a lot easier, I find, compared to watching just 1 or 2 episodes at a time.
2. There’s a lot of magic in our story world.
Perhaps this goes without saying, but for those who might be new to the xianxia genre, this is a drama world with gods, goddesses, fairies, sprites, spirits, and mythical creatures.
I imagine it would likely feel like a lot to digest, if this is your first toe-dip into the genre, but hang in there, because it does come together and get easier to understand, as you go.
3. Don’t feel too fussed about following the intricacies of the story,
..because, given some time, the pieces will come together quite naturally.
4. There are definitely tropes in this story.
Our narrative isn’t the most original thing ever, but the tropes are generally well done, and make sense within the context of our story.
My suggestion is to just roll with it, rather than hold it against Show, for using tropes in the first place.
5. There are quite a few ups and downs on the road to happiness
..but hang in there, because I’m here to tell you that Show does, indeed, have a happy ending in store. 🥰
Yes, I know that’s a little spoilery, but I’m guessing that this is the sort of spoiler that you don’t mind too much, since it assures you that Show won’t end up tearing your heart to shreds with a sad ending. 😅
SUBTITLE CLARIFICATION [VERY MINOR SPOILER]
To be clear, I really, really appreciate that english subtitles are available for Chinese dramas, so I’m not knocking the subtitles, per se.
There are nuances that are lost in translation, which is true of just about all subtitles, really, but where it adds to the watch experience, to have a nuance explained, I try to do that, in my reviews.
And the thing that I just wanted to highlight here, is how Dongfang Qingcang (Dylan Wang) refers to himself, throughout the show.
In episodes 3& 4, the subs say more than once, that Orchid (Esther Yu) thinks Dongfang Qingcang is full of himself.
Essentially, Dongfang Qingcang is using a royal term to refer to himself, “本座” (běn zuò) which literally means “this throne.”
What Orchid muses over quite dismissively, is the fact that he uses the term to refer to himself, but it’s hard to translate, which is probably why the subbers decided to have her say that he’s full of himself.
I personally found that it added a nice amount of dimension to my watch, to understand that Qingcang’s consistently using a royal term to refer to himself, which is why I thought I’d explain it here.
STUFF I LIKED
The major focus on the OTP
I mean, it’s true that it’s right there in the title, but this is primarily the love story between our OTP, and I’m just glad that Show doesn’t forget that, even when it expands its focus to shine the spotlight on other narrative threads.
The spotlight isn’t quite as laser-focused or as heady as I might have liked, sometimes, but Show does a very decent job of keeping the love story more or less at the center of our watch experience, and that definitely helped to keep me engaged and interested, all the way to the end.
It also helps that I think the OTP is perfectly cast, but I’ll talk more about that later in this review.
Show’s sense of humor works for me a good amount of the time
To be clear, I didn’t always find Show’s Intended Funny actually funny, but I did find myself giggling out loud quite unexpectedly, on more than a few occasions, and I do feel that Show deserves credit for that.
There are so many occasions when the sense of humor in a show just doesn’t jive with my own sense of humor, so it feels extra special when stuff actually lands as genuinely fresh and funny to me.
Here’s an early example, of when Show’s Intended Funny had me giggling out loud.
E3-4. The fact that Dongfang Qingcang actually would love to get rid of Orchid, but can’t, is the main dilemma he faces, this set of episodes, and it’s rather discombobulating, all around.
For a start, there’s a layer of protectiveness in how he saves her. He snatches her from the jaws of death, and then hides her in the palm of his hand, so that no one can touch her.
And then he takes her to a safe place, where he gets up close to her, and fingering her face, considers her intently, and then gives her this spiel:
“Not only will I not kill you, I also won’t allow anyone to hurt you. If anyone dares to touch you, I’ll cut their skin off and make a human lantern out of it.
From now on, you’re mine. Your life belongs to me. Your breathing belongs to me. Your heartbeat belongs to me. Every drop of blood in your body belongs to me.
Without my permission, don’t leave my sight.”
He means this almost menacingly, of course, but in effect, it does land as rather protective, especially when paired with his intent, unwavering gaze.
So of course Orchid, cheerful dim little flower sprite that she is, reaches for the conclusion that he’s in love with her, tee hee.
The way she grabs onto his spiked fingers and gingerly shakes his hand as she thanks for his good intentions, is really quite funny to me, particularly because he’s glowering with deathly intent, and here she is, daintily thanking him and turning down his supposed affections. 😁
Basically, a lot of these episodes’ humor comes from the fact that Dongfang Qingcang is this powerful, regal, dark presence, and Orchid misses that completely, and treats him like some stray dog, almost, who’s wandered into her orbit.
I found myself nicely tickled by this, honestly. 😁
The hijinks don’t get dragged out
I think one of the reasons I enjoy this show as much as I did, is that, generally speaking, Show doesn’t drag out the hijinks too much.
For example, each time our leads go through a body swap experience, we get some hijinks each time, but before it starts to wear on me, Show is wise to switch our leads back into their own bodies, so that my preferred version of Dongfang Qingcang – glowery instead of flaily – is front and center.
In that way, Show knows me well? 😁
The way Show manages its narrative tones
As a general rule, I think that Show does a really nice job of balancing its sillier bits with its more heartfelt core.
I liked that a lot, because I don’t mind a bit of silly in my shows, but I can’t do without that emotional core.
Here’s an example which I thought was particularly well managed, from episode 18.
E17-18. It’s so cute, when it becomes clear that Qingcang’s just pretending to still be too weak to walk on his own; he’s been faking it, just to have Orchid help him around, HA.
I actually really like how, from this point of the episode onwards, we get a nice mix of dorky funny, with the soulful poignance. It somehow works really well. At least, I like it. 😁
The way Qingcang tells Orchid that he doesn’t know how to show affection leans poignant and soulful, but then, the way he tries to practice smiling, is dorky funny.
The way Orchid teaches him all the basics about smiling and hugging is a little silly-cheesy, but the hyper-awareness in his eyes, as she begins to demonstrate a hug, is crackly, smoldery goodness. 🔥
It all sounds potentially whiplashy on paper, but I love the execution, and I find myself lapping it up happily.
The way Show pulls its various narrative threads together
Generally speaking, Show does a very solid job of meshing its various narrative threads together.
We get to see how things fit together, and how the various threads affect and interact with one another.
For a show that first comes across as silly and nonsensical, this is particularly surprising and impressive, I feel.
Here’s an early-ish example of when I felt Show demonstrated this quite nicely.
E5-6. I rather like how Dongfang Qingcang’s desire to make Orchid happy (and thus hurry her recovery along) and Changheng’s (Zhang Ling He) recruitment via the immortal examination comes together quite nicely.
The baddies from Liufang Pavilion wanting to target Orchid and get her killed during the immortal examination, also feels reasonably organic to our story.
And so, it feels like everyone and everything coming together on a single platform, which I rather like.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
The reason that Show’s aesthetic is in this section, for me, is because it works out to be a mixed bag, overall.
By and large, Show is actually really quite pretty to look at, which I count as one of Show’s pluses. That Pretty, which extends to some of the settings in the heavenly realms and other places, remains quite consistent.
On top of that, there are times when Show leans into the extremes – both the good and not-so-good ends.
Meaning, some scenes are particularly beautiful, and also, some scenes look particularly cheap and rather poorly done.
The nicer stuff
There are certain scenes where it looks like more time, effort and money was put in, in order to amp up the polish.
And, those scenes have been selected to mostly have to do with the OTP, like some of the scenes of our OTP in Haotian Tower, which I thought looked significantly nicer than some other scenes.
Some scenes that aren’t to do with the OTP are also quite eye-catching, I thought, like the one where Changheng enters the painting to have a drink with Rong Hao (who I’m quite chuffed to be able to place as Xu Hai Qiao, who’s Ouyang Xu in A Dream Of Splendor, heh).
The way the scene is literally treated like a moving painting, is pretty cool, I thought.
I also thought that the scene of Dongfang Qingcang regaining his original form was nicely done, and that the dragon form of Shangque (Lin Bai Rui) was pretty cool.
On a tangent, I did get a kick out of how Show keeps finding new and different ways to use the set and CGI around Arbiter Hall, in our drama world.
I’m just rather amused at just how much mileage Show manages to get from the sets &/or CGI created for Arbiter Hall, while still making it make story sense. 😁
The less nice stuff
By and large, the times when the CGI looks pretty cheap and casual, tend to be in the busier, more action-oriented scenes, like someone did a rushed job of it, because they weren’t being paid enough to do better, and they decided that nobody cared about the outcome anyway. 😅
I found this to be true from start to finish, so it looks to me, that this was a conscious choice.
That’s a pretty smart use of limited budget, and I’m pretty happy with where the productions chooses to splurge.
At least the not-so-great CGI is kept somewhat to a minimum?
The costuming is a mixed bag for me, as well.
Overall, I’d say that it’s not the best I’ve seen, nor is it the worst I’ve seen. The fact that everyone looks like they’re wearing some form of plastic barnacles doesn’t bother me so much, and I find myself pretty content to just roll with it.
I’ve seen worse, basically, like how half the guys in Novoland: The Castle In The Sky, looked like they were wearing identical recycled high school prom dresses made of pale blue chiffon.
I’m told that that show’s worth a watch, but I just.. couldn’t get past the you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it prom dresses, and the blue contact lenses that everyone wore. 😅
Show leaning into its angsty side, in our later episodes
Show leans into its angsty side in its later episodes, and this is something I had mixed feelings about, which is why it’s in this section.
See, the angst makes the watch experience less fun than before, so that’s a downer.
But on the other hand, I get that the angst is to add emotional heft to our story, and without the emotional heft to ground our story, it wouldn’t have the same emotional impact on me, as a viewer.
And as a general rule, I like it when my dramas have emotional heft to them.
It’s just.. this show had been so much fun to watch, when it had been light and silly, that when it started to focus on the angst, I couldn’t help but miss the silly-breezy. 😅
STUFF I LIKED LESS
The portion of our story which takes place in the mortal realm
At the episode 19-20 mark, our story moves to the mortal realm, where our characters spend a chunk of story time, and I have to confess, this was not my favorite portion of our show.
I have to admit that with our main characters spending time in the mortal world, this stretch, I found my attention wandering, and my engagement weakening, somewhat.
Honestly, my interest in the mortal realm story and how it unfolds, was more theoretical than anything. I felt curious to see what Show did with it, but I didn’t feel particularly invested.
I mean, I was still interested in what happens, but.. I also couldn’t help feeling like this was all one big detour, dressed up as a bit of comedy, and while I was low-key entertained, the watch experience was nothing like when Show is at its best, where I’m lapping it up with glee.
There was no real glee for me, in this stretch, unfortunately.
It low-key feels like our characters are just playing dress-up in the mortal realm, even though Show does push some character and relationship development, which I’ll touch on later, in this review.
Additionally, it was admittedly rather trippy to see our quartet dressed differently, particularly Orchid and Jieli (Hong Xiao), with their new hair and makeup styles.
But really, I was just relieved that Qingcang gets to keep his mane of glory.
Priorities, y’know? 😁😁
Some logic gaps
For the record, some of the comedy doesn’t seem very natural to me, because the logic doesn’t flow.
Mainly, I’m thinking of the scene immediately after the kiss in episode 11, where it’s Dylan Wang who’s sputtering in shock after the kiss, rather than Esther Yu.
That doesn’t make sense, because it had been Orchid who had initiated the kiss – and now, Orchid is in Dongfang Qingcang’s body.
She shouldn’t be sputtering in shock and disgust after the kiss, since she was the one who’d made it happen in the first place, right?
I’m guessing that Show just wanted the comedy of Dylan Wang sputtering in shock, is all. But it really doesn’t make sense. 🤷🏻♀️
SPOTLIGHT ON CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS
I’ll be delving selectively into characters and relationships, with my main focus on Dongfang Qingcang and Orchid, because, really, the OTP is THE main point, of this story – at least as far as I’m concerned. 😁
Dylan Wang / Wang He Di as Dongfang Qingcang
Listen, y’all. I know I’ve only seen Dylan Wang in a couple of things (a little bit of Meteor Garden 2018, which I ended up wandering off from, after a couple of episodes, and more recently, 2021’s The Rational Life), and this is THE best I’ve seen from him, hands down.
Looking at his fresh-faced, somewhat guileless, almost naive character in The Rational Life, I would’ve never imagined him being this effective as a badass devil type character, and yet, he literally SLAYS, in this role.
Consider me duly smitten, you guys. 🤩
First of all, I think Dylan Wang looks fantastic as Dongfang Qingcang. Whoever decided to cast him, has a really, really good eye, I’m thinking.
His angular features are a great fit for Dongfang Qingcang’s dark lord sort of vibe, and I think the styling is excellent too, and I just love seeing him swish around in those dark robes.
Altogether, I have to say that he looks handsome and smoldery-glowery in this.
And sometimes, when everything comes together to make him look incandescent, he looks so beautiful, in an otherworldly sort of way.
Not gonna lie; this is literally the most attractive I’ve found Dylan Wang, in the various roles I’ve seen him in to date. 🤩😁
I had such a great time just gawking at Dylan Wang being all badass and glowery, whenever Show allowed him to be.
In fact, it’s quite possible that I had such a good time just gawking at the swishy glower, that amazing mane of glory, and those cut-through-glass cheekbones, that my enjoyment of this entire show slightly distorted, heh. 😁
Even though it’s true that my greatest enjoyment in this show is Dylan Wang swishing around as a badass and smoldery powerful being, I have to admit that he is very excellent when he’s called upon to deliver dorkier types of scenes.
When the context calls for it, he can be all flaily and pouty, without landing as annoying, which can be pretty hard to do, I think.
And yet, when the moment’s over, I’m starry-eyed all over again, over the imposing, cold badass sort of vibe that Dylan Wang manages to channel.
Overall, just really, REALLY nicely done, and I was actually sorry to get to the end of this show, largely because I didn’t want to say goodbye to Dylan Wang, in this character. 🤩
Here’s a sampling of highlights that I found relevant to the development of Qingcang, as a character.
E15-16. This set of episodes, we hear Dongfang Qingcang say that his father (Zhao Bin) had wanted Dongfang Qingcang to kill him, in order to destroy the love tree.
Ohhh. Was killing his father the ultimate proof that the love tree was dead? Because he wouldn’t have been able to kill his father if he’d had any emotions left in him?
That sure puts a whole new spin on things, particularly the part where Xunfeng (Zhang Chen Xiao) is determined to kill Dongfang Qingcang, for killing their father.
If this is true, then Dongfang Qingcang’s been misunderstood all this time, by the entire world, pretty much.
While everyone’s been thinking of him as a heartless killer, he’d actually been forced into it, by his father. Guh. That’s tragic. 😭
E17-18. I really, really enjoyed this set of episodes, and the two biggest thoughts I have in my head, as I come away from these two episodes, are:
1, Dongfang Qingcang is so tragically beautiful through so much of these episodes; I’m quite sure my eyes glazed over, just gazing at him on my screen 🤩, and
2, Dylan Wang really shows a great deal of acting range this set of episodes, and I am really, really impressed. 🤩
So yes, I have double the stars in my eyes, this set of episodes, and I couldn’t be more pleased. 😁
First of all, there’s the scenes of Dongfang Qingcang enduring what looks like excruciating pain, as his emotional root grows back, in the Fuju Cave.
Gah. That was pretty hard to watch.
The feeling I got, was that every fiber of his being was being burned by the heat of a thousand suns, dipped in hellfire to double their intensity, as they burn right into the depths of his soul, and then burn through every cell in his body, and then burn through his mouth and eyes.
And along with that, we get the flashbacks, of exactly what had happened between him and his father, as Orchid, Jieli and Shangque search for the truth, in the First Moon Supreme’s sealed off chambers.
I’d guessed that Dongfang Qingcang’s father had wanted him to kill him, but it’s still really poignant, to see it all play out on my screen.
Young Dongfang Qingcang, suffering so much emotional and physical pain, as his father trained him to be the Moon Supreme that he himself couldn’t be; his father, essentially giving him no choice but to kill him, in self-defense, in an effort to seal the destruction of his emotional root.
It’s all so tragic, especially when we get that context that Orchid discovers, that his father had fixed the broken zither, and kept his favorite wooden ball, like they were special treasures.
I’m glad for the Xilan spell, that alerts Dongfang Qingcang to the fact that Orchid’s doing something dangerous, which sends him going after her, in the River of Forgetfulness.
That meeting between Dongfang Qingcang and his father’s spirit, feels so fleeting and precious; it’s something that can never be recreated, because that’s the only Ranxi flower that they have.
Gurgle. I couldn’t take my eyes off Dongfang Qingcang through the entire scene; his pain is so clear to see in his gaze, even as he keeps expression as hard and stony as he can muster.
The angry tears in his eyes, matched only by the sheen of sorrowful tears in his father’s eyes, are so arresting, to me.
I’m glad that Qingcang gets this chance to hear from his father, what Dad had been thinking and feeling, the whole time he’d been preparing Qingcang to lose his emotional root and master hellfire.
Even though what Dad had done was cruel, I can understand how his sense of duty to the Moon Tribe was so strong, that he felt it he had no choice but to prepare Qingcang to take on the role of the tribe’s savior, because only Qingcang had the talent that was required.
When your tribe is crumbling while under attack on all sides, and when your son displays the talent that has only been whispered about for tens of thousands of years, and when you are the leader of said tribe, what other choice is there, really?
A selfless leader would think that it’s his duty to sacrifice himself for the greater good, and that’s exactly what Qingcang’s father did.
Unfortunately, this was at great cost to Qingcang himself, and it’s made even worse by the fact that Dad never really made this clear to Qingcang, except for the part about it being his destiny to restore the Moon Tribe.
It’s no wonder there’s so much emotional baggage in Qingcang. Add on the fact that he’s feeling all of this afresh, because he’s finally able to feel again, and it’s just all too much, really.
Which is why I can understand how angry and paralyzed Qingcang is, in front of his father.
And yet, it’s clear to see how much Dad loves Qingcang.
Even now, because he can see how much pain Qingcang is in, he urges Qingcang to destroy his spirit, to seal the destruction of his emotional root, all over again, so that he won’t have to suffer the pain.
Guh. Dad’s willing to die a second death – one that would leave no trace of him behind in the world – if it would spare Qingcang the pain that he’s feeling now.
That’s so sacrificial, really, isn’t it?
I’m glad Qingcang declines, though, and I like his reason so much: that he doesn’t want to forget these feelings that he’s been feeling, when he thinks or dreams of the happy times when he’d played with his father, as a child.
Gurgle. That’s beautiful. 🥲😭
He would willingly endure the pain, if it allows him to remember the happy times that he’d experienced with his father.
And yet, as he says that, there’s such a deep hauntedness about his face; SUCH an amazing scene from Dylan Wang. Kudos, truly.
I’m gutted for Qingcang, that he doesn’t get to kick that ball, because of how paralyzed he feels, but like I said, I can understand his paralysis.
Afterwards, I’m glad that he chooses to show grace to Xunfeng, by taking the bulk of the lightning strikes for him, when Xunfeng reaches his limit.
I know it doesn’t make sense that Qingcang’s robes can come off so easily, but DANG, WHAT. A. GLORIOUS. FLOURISH! when he rips off his robe in one sweeping move, and holds it out, revealing very lean, very ripped muscle. 🤩🤩🤩
For the stylistic and aesthetic payoff, I’m more than willing to roll with the lack of logic, hee. 😁🤩
Esther Yu / Yu Shu Xin as Orchid
Esther Yu does a really solid job of the role of Orchid, although I have to confess that I found Orchid less compelling of a character, when compared with Dongfang Qingcang.
I know, I know, blame it on my fixation with Dylan Wang’s smolder and his mane of glory. It’s definitely a fangirl bias thing. 😅
In my defense, it’s also true that Orchid is our resident “impossibly good” character, and while I appreciate her role in our story, I also found this less.. captivating, compared to Dongfang Qingcang’s dark lord vibe.
That said, I definitely enjoyed Esther Yu in the role, and I found Orchid cute and likable at the same time.
This is hard to achieve, and her ability to do cutesy while remaining endearing reminds me of Park Bo Young, which I think is a huge compliment, because most other actresses fail at this, and hard.
Yu Shu Xin manages to be our rather feather-headed Orchid, without coming across as try-hard, or pathetic, or annoying, which is a definite win, in my books.
That said, when the role calls for Orchid to show us a very different vibe, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Esther Yu switches modes. She delivers it very effectively, and makes it look quite effortless too.
In this spoiler section, I highlight just a few Orchid moments, which I feel help to create a nice overview of Orchid’s key features, as a character.
E5-6. How selfless of Orchid, to volunteer to act as decoy for the monster Zhao Ying, so that the other girls – who’ve been mean and cruel to her, no less – are able to get to safety and call for help.
I mean, she’s literally terrified, and yet, she does it, for the sake of the greater good. She really is very noble that way.
E7-8. Orchid really is the epitome of kindness, this set of episodes. Show couldn’t have emphasized more, that she’s a paragon of virtue, who is kind and compassionate to all, even towards those who have hurt her in the past.
Point taken, Show, that she is our perfect-hearted heroine. 😉
E21-22. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh, cry or headdesk, at how messed up things have gotten, all because Orchid had wanted to protect Changheng and make sure that he’d be able to complete his hardship experience without incident.
I like Orchid, but truly, sometimes her dimness can have far-reaching consequences, when mixed with her good intentions.
Because, if she hadn’t run away to keep watch over Run (and completely distracting him from his Wanqing fixation in the process), Qingcang wouldn’t have shown himself to Wanqing, in his effort to monitor the progress of her hardship experience, thus capturing her attention, right?
E27-28. What I appreciate more than the idea of Qingcang and Changheng working together, is the fact that Show gives Orchid the chance the turn down Changheng properly, and then makes it a bittersweet, heartfelt sort of moment.
I like how Orchid remains appreciative of all that Changheng’s done for her, and makes it clear that she does like him – it’s just that she’s learned that there’s another kind of “like” that she’s discovered, which isn’t how she feels about him.
It’s about her growing in understanding, and not about him not being good enough, and this lands very well, for me.
Dongfang Qingcang and Orchid
I really enjoyed this pairing between Dylan Wang and Esther Yu.
Their chemistry is on-point, and I thought they matched each other very well, in terms of onscreen presence and energy, even though, mostly, they tend to be on different ends of the persona scale.
Dongfang Qingcang’s generally all glowery badassery, while Orchid’s all cheerful, dim naiveté, and somehow, they work really well together, and I just loved it when they shared the screen.
Among the various narrative arcs in our story world, their loveline was THE thing that grabbed my heart the most, and commanded most of my attention.
It just really tickled my imagination, to wonder how the clueless sprite and the glowery dark lord, neither of whom seems to really want to have anything to do with the other, would fall in love.
And not just any love, too, but a love that would shake heaven and earth, and make it possible for these two very different personalities from very different backgrounds and associated complicated histories, to be together forever.
Thanks to our leads being so comfortable together, and sharing such great chemistry, I enjoyed watching these two together, whether they were being silly-ridiculous, or poignant-heartfelt, or kissy-touchy.
Here’s an overview of this OTP loveline, and then I talk about them some more, in my remarks about Show’s ending.
E1-2. In terms of Dongfang Qingcang and Orchid interacting, I am amused at how they basically take out their frustration on their host bodies, like how Dongfang Qingcang cuts off Orchid’s hair, and Orchid pulls at Dongfang Qingcang’s hair in retaliation, ha.
That was quite ridiculous, and I found myself chuckling along quite happily.
What I did find rather surprising, is the way Dongfang Qingcang actually restores Orchid’s hair, to get her to stop crying.
It’s not so much in the fact that he restores her hair, and more in the way the tone of his voice is quite gentle, at some points, as he tells her to stop crying.
That’s very surprising, for a character like Dongfang Qingcang, who’s supposed to be the devil in our story.
It’s tropey but still funny, that the way these two swap bodies, is through kissing.
I get the feeling that there will be more kissing – and swapping – coming our way. 😁
How interesting, though, that they still seem very much linked, even after swapping back into their own bodies.
When Orchid’s being physically threatened at Liufang Pavilion, Dongfang Qingcang feels it on his own body, just like he’d felt it, when he’d been in Orchid’s body, and she’d been pulling on his hair while in his body.
This gives me confidence that Dongfang Qingcang will end up coming to Orchid’s rescue – if only to prevent himself from experiencing vicarious pain through her, heh.
E3-4. I find it nicely entertaining, that this spell that binds Dongfang Qingcang to Orchid, has no effect on her whatsoever, but has Dongfang Qingcang feeling all her physical pain, as well as feeling all her feelings.
So when she bumps her head, he feels it (haha!), and when she cries, he can’t help but shed tears too, even if though he does so extremely grumpily (tee hee hee! 😁).
I was inordinately tickled by this, can’t lie.
And so, because Dongfang Qingcang can’t break the spell, and he feels all of Orchid’s pain, he literally can’t leave her to her own devices, in case that puts him in danger.
I love how that means that he sneaks into the heavenly realm to sort things out with her, and ends up camping out at Arbiter Hall with her, after discovering that destiny book of the Chidi Woman, the person who’d sealed his troops in battle.
Besides the fact that Dongfang Qingcang finds that he feels everything that Orchid feels, it’s also very amusing to me, that he can’t actually disobey her, when she tells him to do something.
That scene, where he ends up counting the flowers in her greenhouse, against his will, is so funny, hahaha! The way he literally can’t stop himself, and has to shout for Shangque between counting the flowers, is so hilarious. 😂😂
Tee hee hee. I can see why he wouldn’t want Orchid to know that she has this kind of power over him.
On the other hand, it’s really quite sweet, that Orchid gets all touched at the fact that he appears to take her words so seriously, when usually no one ever listens to her. Aw. How accidentally sweet. 😁
It’s rather tropey that Orchid blithely talks about how horrible and ugly and unhygienic Dongfang Qingcang is, and he gets all angry and upset, but it’s quite amusing nonetheless.
I do find it endearing that she mishears his name, and thus comes up with a nickname for him, where he’s now Daqiang to her. Cute.
E3-4. As we end off the episode, it’s quite poignant that Orchid works so hard to try to fix that Destiny Book, that she ends up in a dead faint – and Dongfang Qingcang actually feels that faint coming on, because of the spell.
Although he does it reluctantly, with a hangdog expression on his face, the fact that he literally goes out to collect the morning dew for her, because he reads in the scroll that Xilan holy grass, Orchid’s original form, needs to be watered with morning dew, is really very sweet.
E5-6. I’m really digging how Dylan Wang is playing Dongfang Qingcang, at the moment.
Dongfang Qingcang is still perplexed and bemused a lot of the time, but at the same time, I feel like there’s a more distinct sense of softness and gentleness about his manner now, when he talks to Orchid.
Like when Dongfang Qingcang offers Orchid the bowl of dew and tells her to drink it, I feel like there’s a softness in his gaze, and also, in his voice, and that makes me feel like he’s letting down his guard around her, and softening towards her, which is an idea I really dig.
Even when he tells her to stop talking rubbish (like when she asks him why he’s so nice to her), his tone isn’t as sharp as before, even though the words are the same. This does give me a bit of a thrill. 🤩
Of course, the reason Dongfang Qingcang goes to such great lengths to cater to Orchid’s whims and needs, is because he needs her to recover, so that she can fix that Destiny Book, and also, there’s the thing where he feels all her emotions and physical pain.
And yes, it’s true that he does show his gruffness and impatience, in the things that he says to Orchid, especially when she isn’t immediately cooperative.
But, there’s just that glimmer of gentleness in the way he does things for her, like heat up the dew when she says it’s too cold, then cool it down again when she says it’s too hot, that screams tenderness to me. 🤩
It feels like he’s growing fond of her in spite of himself, and that’s just the kind of thing that makes me squee. 😁
Another thing that I really enjoy, is his perplexed “I don’t know what to do with you” sort of looks, when she doesn’t do the thing that he asks, and is left hanging.
Like when he ends up sitting in the greenhouse by himself, holding that big bowl of dew, because she’s decided that she needs to doctor the dew to make it more palatable.
You can practically see his mental gears at work, trying to figure out how to deal with this cluelessly rebellious Orchid, who simply won’t be afraid of him, no matter how hard he tries, and who has her own ideas, even though he’s already told her what to do. 😁
This idea, that Orchid is so clueless and guileless around him, even though he’s THE infamously powerful Dongfang Qingcang, amuses me quite a bit.
I also continue to be amused at how Orchid interprets all of Dongfang Qingcang’s caring actions as stemming from his love for her.
Ah, our little Orchid really is endearingly dim. But I can’t blame her too much, really, because Dongfang Qingcang’s words and behavior really do lend themselves to a picture of adoration.
Like his words, “If you’re sad, I’m sad too” – that’s totally such a loving thing to say, isn’t it? Except he means it literally, because he’s bound to her by that Xilan spell? 😁
Show serves up these types of crossed signals regularly, and right now, I am just lapping them up happily. 😋
It’s also rather funny how Dongfang Qingcang takes Orchid’s words about wanting to spend time with Changheng so literally, that he shows up in Changheng’s form, thus making Orchid the opposite of happy, pfft. 😆
E5-6. I like how Dongfang Qingcang’s readily on standby to give Orchid a helping hand if she needs it. This also gives me a sense of assurance, that even though the Liufang Pavilion folks try to harm her, he’ll be close enough to protect and save her as necessary.
E7-8. This set of episodes, one of my favorite moments, is when Dongfang Qingcang shows up to save Orchid from the monster Zhao Ying, and when she asks why he’s there, he says, “I was just passing by.”
HAHAHAHA. That is so hilarious to me, because that is exactly what modern male leads tend to say, when they’ve gone out of their way to be in the female leads’ orbit, and have been caught in the act.
The fact that Dongfang Qingcang says this, while standing in some magical mystical garden that’s being used for the immortal examination, and is therefore not at all open for “just passing by” behavior, just cracks me up. 😂
The fact that he looks all calm and collected, instead of flustered, at being caught “just passing by” does land as kinda cool to my eyes, not gonna lie. 😁
And, against my better judgment, I find his intent approach to Zhao Ying, ready to decimate the creature who hurt Orchid, pretty badass too. 🙊
Thank goodness, though, that Orchid stops him from killing Zhao Ying, because I’d grown rather fond of its puppy-like form. 😅
E7-8. We get several flashbacks to the same scene, this set of episodes, where it looks like Dongfang Qingcang’s father had eliminated his emotional root, so that he would be unable to feel things like love, or hate, or jealousy, or pity, or sadness, so that his judgment and decision-making would be pure and untainted.
And so, I rather like the idea that Orchid’s kind and warm ways are giving Dongfang Qingcang pause for thought, or are perhaps even reaching his dead emotional root, and sparking the beginnings of his emotional root actually coming to life again.
Given that we learn via Rong Hao’s experiment, that Orchid is the Goddess of Xishan, who is the only being who can bring dead things (ie, not just people) back to life, this does make narrative sense.
If Dongfang Qingcang’s father had killed his emotional root, Orchid would therefore be the only one who’d be able to bring it back to life again, and allow Dongfang Qingcang to feel feelings again.
Of course, she’s making him feel things right now, but most of it is because of the Xilan spell that binds his feelings to hers.
But, we do see hints of Dongfang Qingcang feeling independent feelings too, like when she gets all happy about being praised by Changheng, and he feels something else instead – which looks a lot like jealousy to me, heh.
This set of episodes, I’m still nicely tickled by how Dongfang Qingcang is at Orchid’s mercy, like when she tells him to turn himself in, and he literally can’t stop his legs from following her.
I also really like the scenes where Dongfang Qingcang cries reluctant tears because Orchid’s crying.
These are the scenes where I feel Dylan Wang does especially well, in that it’s hard to look angry and reluctant, and still have tears leaking out of your eyes, and he does it consistently well. I do love the dissonance of it. 🤩
E7-8. I also really like the idea that even though Orchid’s got stars in her eyes for Changheng, she can’t help but grow attached to Dongfang Qingcang, as they spend time together.
The scene where she tells him not to be so nice to her, so that she won’t miss him so much, when he leaves, is really rather poignant, especially when she uses that analogy of bitter medicine and sweet honey – where his company is represented by the sweet honey.
Aw. That’s.. sweet, even if Dongfang Qingcang can’t understand what she means right now.
E7-8. I’m glad that Orchid has Dongfang Qingcang to stay by her side, and comfort her in his own intent, glowery way.
I do love how he tells her that she’s more precious than any of the other fairies and immortals, and that she is as important to him as his own life.
He means it literally, of course, because of the Xilan spell, but it can’t hurt Orchid, to hear that she’s that important to someone, after hearing her beloved Changheng talk about her in such dismissive tones.
The fall into the water doesn’t feel completely necessary, but I can believe that Orchid would do a rash thing like that, in trying to get Dongfang Qingcang out of Changheng’s orbit.
And, I’m not about to complain about a reason for our OTP to exchange underwater kisses, hee.
I mean, it doesn’t mean anything at the moment, but it’s still very pretty to look at, and the following awkward hyperawareness doesn’t hurt, either. 😁
I do feel bad for Dongfang Qingcang, when Orchid drugs him and puts him in that boat on the River of Forgetfulness.
I know she means well, and wants to keep him safe, but it does still feel deceptive, and that therefore feels like a damper on their growing connection.
I appreciate Orchid’s heartfelt words to Dongfang Qingcang though, where she tells him that he’s a good person even though he’s from the Moon Tribe, and that she will miss him. It feels like possibly the first time Dongfang Qingcang’s been told something so positive, about himself.
From the way Dongfang Qingcang sits up right after Orchid leaves, it makes me think that he allowed her to drug him, and that he isn’t so weak or powerless, even under the influence of the drug.
E9-10. I do love that at the beginning of episode 9, which is when Dongfang Qingcang’s just been “abandoned” by Orchid out on the River of Forgetfulness, he’s still so gentle and considerate towards her – to Shangque’s boggle-eyed bemusement.
He may not think that he has feelings, but Dongfang Qingcang’s definitely showing gentleness and a measure of tenderness towards Orchid, even as he gathers her up in his arms and carries her to her bedchamber, after she’s fallen asleep. Aw.
And then there’s how he gives her that Bone Orchid which is made from his heart blood, because he wants to make sure that she’s well-protected, even when he’s not next to her.
I mean, yes, it can be argued that he might be doing this to keep himself safe, since he’s still tied to her by the Xilan spell. But, that note of protective tenderness in his voiceover, as he transfers that Bone Orchid to her, is unmistakeable.
Which is why I’d like to think that he’s protecting her more because he cares about her. He’s probably using the Xilan spell more as an excuse than anything, at this point. 😁
Not only that, there’s how he doesn’t want Orchid to miss the ceremony of assigning posts, because she’s been waiting for it for a thousand years, and he doesn’t want to disappoint her.
Tee hee. He basically will bend over backwards for Orchid now, for just about anything, won’t he? 😁
E9-10. While I’m not surprised that Dongfang Qingcang would stop fighting with Changheng in order to come to Orchid’s rescue, I still wasn’t prepared for how swoony it felt, when he thunders all over that ceremonial hall, “How dare you hurt my person?,” then appears next to Orchid, with his arm around her waist.
He’s gentle towards Orchid in his touch, and yet, at the same time, so glowery-fiery at everyone else, for daring to hurt her.
Like I said, swoonyyy~ 🤩🤩
The idea of him creating a forcefield with his powers, so that he and Orchid are completely shielded from the attack that’s coming from Lord Yunzhong and everyone else, is also quite swoony, somehow.
It’s like they’re in their own world, safe and separate from everything and everyone else, as long as he wills it – and there’s nothing that even Lord Yunzhong can do about it. Eee! 🤩
And then, when he finally does unleash his fire upon them, it’s so intense and all-consuming, that it feels like he could destroy all of Shuiyuntian, if he wanted to – but he ultimately holds back, because Orchid requests it.
That in itself is also a very melty idea, that he would withhold such enormous power, on her word alone – even though he is so intent on attacking those whom have hurt Orchid.
Same thing, when Changheng tries to stop him from leaving with Orchid.
He looks ready to kill Changheng, but holds back because of Orchid, and instead, distracts Changheng by wreaking destruction on Shuiyuntian, because he knows that Changheng cannot bring himself to deny his duty to protect Shuiyuntian.
That’s pretty smart, I have to say.
E9-10. The way they ride to Wind Plain on Shangque’s dragon back is pretty cool, even though that close-up shots make his dragon mane look really rough, ha. 😅
But the way Dongfang Qingcang never takes his eyes off Orchid, and the way she eventually relaxes into him, is quite squee-worthy, I have to say. 😍
And then, when Dongfang Qingcang actually steps onto Wind Plain, and is greeted by the thousands of soldiers there with such deep reverence and allegiance, is very cool to see as well.
I just like this idea that Dongfang Qingcang really does command so much respect – and yet, he makes exceptions for Orchid, just because he likes her. 😁
E9-10. It’s actually pretty sweet of Dongfang Qingcang to create a replica of Arbiter Hall for Orchid, so that she’d feel at home while at Cangyan Sea.
Plus, the way he looks so content, as she squeals with happiness, is really lovely to see.
But.. it’s just too bad that a replica is never the same as the real thing, and Orchid’s elation turns to crushing disappointment and tears, really fast. Aw.
I hadn’t expected this to be the straw that would break our camel’s back, but apparently it is, and I’m quite disappointed, really, that Dongfang Qingcang ends up saying such cutting things to Orchid – even though they are mostly technically true.
I honestly have no idea what Orchid is thinking, in plotting to plant that kiss on Dongfang Qingcang, because, even if they swap bodies, how is this going to help her, really?
But.. I guess our Orchid was never the brightest fairy, eh?
E11-12. Even though it is admittedly amusing to get the body swap this set of episodes, thanks to the magical kiss, I can’t help feeling antsy, because I’m eager for them to swap back – because I’m eager to see the Moon Supreme being glowery and full of charisma, rather than channeling his inner flower sprite. 😅
That said, I do concede that this is a good opportunity for our leads to showcase their range, a little bit.
Dylan Wang gets to flail and pout while Esther Yu gets to glare and glower. I guess it’s a fair trade? 😁
I am quite amused by the idea that because Orchid doesn’t know how to use Dongfang Qingcang’s body (I’m still remembering that line that she’d blurted out, after their first body swap 😁), neither of them can make the lightning necessary for them to switch back.
This set of episodes is mostly a long line of running gags, around Dongfang Qingcang being helpless in Orchid’s body, and Orchid being anything but glowery and intimidating, in Dongfang Qingcang’s body.
I’m.. mildly amused, but it is admittedly starting to wear on me after two whole episodes of this, so I’m hoping that we can a switch back soonish. 😅
Plus, Dongfang Qingcang has a point; in this situation, they are both in great danger, because neither of them can properly defend themselves.
I did rather like the scenes of Dongfang Qingcang trying to coach Orchid on how to act like him, because it feels like he’s revealing touches of vulnerability.
“When you don’t know how to deal with people, just stare at them coldly and make them feel intimidated.”
..That makes me think for the first time, that someones Dongfang Qingcang’s glower might be an act, to cover up the fact that he doesn’t know how to deal with the situation at hand.
Also, that whole thing where Orchid won’t let Dongfang Qingcang bathe himself while in her body, is quite funny.
The way she blindfolds him and then reluctantly bathes him in her body is quite amusing, and of course, that gives rise to chatter in the palace, that Dongfang Qingcang is bathing the fairy, ha.
E13-14. What a core conundrum Orchid is faced with, when Changheng and Rong Hao decide that the best way to resolve the situation, is to extract Orchid’s spirit from Dongfang Qingcang’s body, and create a new body for her once back in Shuiyuntian, while killing off her old body and Dongfang Qingcang’s spirit in it.
This forces Orchid to make a choice between Changheng and Dongfang Qingcang, because if she goes along with Changheng’s plan, Dongfang Qingcang would die, but if she saves Dongfang Qingcang by swapping bodies with him, then Changheng would be in danger, because Dongfang Qingcang could kill him.
I don’t think Orchid makes a very considered choice in the matter, in the sense that I don’t think she consciously chooses to put Changheng in danger.
Rather, it feels more like she cannot bear the idea of letting Dongfang Qingcang die, and that’s why she leaps to save him, by kissing him and allowing their bodies to switch back.
Instinctively, she just can’t let Dongfang Qingcang go, and that feels very significant.
Also, Eee!!! Badass Dongfang Qingcang is backkk! 🤩🤩
Sorry, I can’t help myself; I just love the intense smolder and the deep swag. I’m even kinda into that whole thing where his eyes blaze blue and he languidly controls his immense power with just his gaze. 🤩
And of course, there’s the thing where Dongfang Qingcang could totally kill Changheng, particularly when Changheng had just so recently threatened his life, but he spares him, because Orchid reminds him that he’d promised her not to hurt Changheng.
Really, the things that Dongfang Qingcang does for Orchid. The lengths that he’d go to for her is really quite melty. 🥰
However, I must say that I didn’t much care for the way Dongfang Qingcang grabs Orchid by the neck when she tries to go to Changheng, and then forces a kiss on her.
That’s.. not so cool, and definitely not romantic.
But.. I reason that Dongfang Qingcang isn’t equipped to have any sort of real EQ, given that his emotional root’s been destroyed, so I guess it’s ok to cut him some slack on this point – at least until his emotional root grows back properly? 😅
More importantly, though, is how we see that Dongfang Qingcang really does care about Orchid.
I loved the scene where we see him sending magic flower petals to grace the banquet that is being held in Orchid’s honor.
It feels so pure, that he doesn’t show himself, but sends them just to make her happy – then takes off his You jade ring, so that he can feel her happiness.
That quiet moment, where he soaks it all up, while staying out of sight behind that tree, feels sooo precious to me. 🥰
Honestly, I delight in every little indication that feelings are growing on either side of this OTP.
Like, when Dongfang Qingcang answers Orchid’s question about why he’s there, he answers so naturally, “I’m here to see you,” before catching himself and adding that he’s there to see if she’s fixing the Destiny Book.
Heh. Orchid might be convinced, but I’m not – I’m very sure that he’d indeed gone there just because he’d wanted to see her. 😁
E13-14. I do love the empathy that Orchid shows Dongfang Qingcang, where she talks about how she’d felt so sad at not being welcome at home any longer, and how he must have felt, not being welcome by his family, after being locked up for 30,000 years.
Even though Dongfang Qingcang changes the subject and acts fierce, I feel like Orchid’s words must have struck a chord with him, thus causing him to react like this.
I also really like how Orchid tells him that she realizes that his goodness towards her, had been real all along, and not fake like she’d thought.
And, I also appreciate how this leads the conversation to deeper, more important things, like how Dongfang Qingcang’s had to endure having his emotions removed, in order to master Hellfire.
Even though Dongfang Qingcang bites out his words with a dark sort of intensity, I like how Orchid responds with a positive take on things, that he’d only said that he hated her, because he didn’t have any other choice, since his emotions have been removed.
Aw. It’s sweet how she keeps thinking about things from his perspective, and spinning things so that he can see his good points too.
And of course, Orchid cares about Dongfang Qingcang enough, and is such a nurturing personality in the first place, that she’d decide to help him restore his seven emotions.
Which leads us to that elixir that she gets from Jieli, which amplifies all the emotions that she feels – and therefore, that he feels through her.
Which is how we get that scene in the throne room, where Dongfang Qingcang can’t help but laugh and cry at her mercy, lol.
I am always so amused at how angry Dongfang Qingcang is, to be at the mercy of Orchid’s emotions, but has to feel them anyway, in the midst of his anger.
Hahaha. I am suitably amused, and I am also glad that this doesn’t go on for too long, because Dongfang Qingcang has the presence of mind to bellow for his You jade ring.
But how telling, isn’t it, that he hadn’t been wearing it, even though he’d made it a habit for some time?
Doesn’t it indicate that he’d wanted to feel close to Orchid, despite his cold treatment of her at Fake Arbiter Hall?
E15-16. The fact that Dongfang Qingcang is quick to come to Orchid’s rescue when alerted by Jieli, and is able to find her, when Rong Hao is so certain that he wouldn’t be able to discern which image of Orchid was the real one, is very satisfying indeed.
I just love it when Dongfang Qingcang gives his signature glower, as he bites out the words, “You even dare to touch my person..?”
Muahaha. I love that he’s so protective of her, and I love that he’s got all the power to back him up, so that anyone who hears those words from him, ought to quake in their boots. 😁
Afterwards, it feels really quite novel, to see Dongfang Qingcang so furious with Orchid, for putting herself in danger.
After all, someone who’s had his emotional root destroyed and has none of the seven feelings, shouldn’t be able to feel this angry, no?
And, even though he shouts at her, it’s clear that the reason he’s so upset, is because Orchid had been in real danger of getting killed, if he’d arrived any later.
Most important in this exchange, I feel, is the fact that when Dongfang Qingcang tells her that even if she runs to the edge of the world, he’d still be able to find her, it actually brings Orchid to happy tears.
She’s touched that he would do that for her, and I feel like this must be a key moment, in the process of Orchid realizing that she’s developing feelings for Dongfang Qingcang.
Also, the way they relate to each other, when Orchid wakes up from her dead faint in the hunter’s village, and Dongfang Qingcang’s grilling a fish for her over the fire, is so much like a real couple.
She coaxes and cajoles him with reassurances and a sweet smile, and he relents somewhat, by gruffly telling her to eat the fish. Isn’t that whole thing so couple-like? 😁🤩
Although Orchid doesn’t say so, I’m pretty sure that the reason she doesn’t want to take off the hairpin and allow Dongfang Qingcang access to her feelings again, is because her feelings towards him have changed – and she realizes it.
Aww, if only he knew!
He thinks that she’s just being capricious and stubborn, so of course it makes him grumpy. But surely he wouldn’t be so grumpy, if he knew that the real reason was because she felt awkward letting him see for himself, that she likes him now? 😁
I was a little surprised to see Dongfang Qingcang react with such anger, when he realizes that his emotion tree is starting to sprout because of Orchid.
But when he gives us that context of how he’d suffered to have it removed in the first place, and how having it back could cause serious issues with his ability to wield his power and achieve his declared destiny, it makes more sense.
He must feel so helpless in this situation, because there’s nothing that he can do, to either truncate or speed up the sprouting of his emotion tree, is there?
E17-18. I couldn’t take my eyes off Qingcang, as he lies in bed, recuperating from the lightning strikes.
I mean, he looks pale and all, but his features look so sculpted, smooth and beautiful, somehow as he lies there, completely motionless; he looks quite unreal, to my eyes. 🤩
And how poignant, that with the first strength that he’s able to muster, he goes to his father’s chambers, to mourn his father’s death anniversary – able to cry it out, for the first time in his life.
I’m glad Orchid’s there to hold him as he cries; this feels like such a raw and vulnerable moment, that they share.
He’s allowing her to see him at his most vulnerable, and she just holds him and lets him cry, even as the tears stream down her face too. In this moment, she feels his pain too – and she doesn’t even need a Xilan spell for that.
It’s beautiful. 🥲
On a more shallow note, I can’t help but stare, when Qingcang has his mane of glory down, while he recuperates in bed.
I’d thought that he’d looked like an unreal statue before, but now, with his hair down like this, he looks even more unreal, and now he’s an unreal moving statue. I am very taken by this, for some reason. 🤩
His silent angst, combined with that mane of glory, just makes him look like an unreal rocker dude, heh. 😁
E17-18. And it really is quite sweet, the way Qingcang takes Orchid’s advice to heart, and makes an effort to be nicer to Xunfeng, even though it’s so outside of his comfort zone.
Aw. He’s stretching and learning, and I feel kinda proud of him. 😁
The way the hyper-awareness is settling into an understated-but-noticeable constant with Qingcang, is very nice as well.
The way he approaches Orchid to ask if his flower cakes are ready, with a touch of tentativeness in his voice, and a steady undercurrent of gentleness in his eyes, is so lovely, to me.
He’s gently resolute, as he tells Orchid that he wants to thank her using the tradition of the Moon Tribe, and then tenderly swipes the cinnabar on her cheek, never taking his eyes off her, for a second.
It’s tender, smoldery and hawt, all at the same time, and I’m flailing in a puddle here.
E19-20. It actually is quite realistic, that Qingcang’s ideas about being on Orchid’s side, has more to do with killing those whom he perceives as having betrayed her, rather than being all warm and feel-good, like Orchid has in her head.
After all, he’s been brought up to be the Moon Supreme, and has spent almost his entire life fighting and killing those who are enemies of the Moon Tribe. I suppose that’s how he’s learned that being loyal to Orchid means killing those who have hurt her.
Still, though, what a record-scratching moment it lands as, for Orchid AND for me, because it effectively shakes her out of her bubble of happiness, and reminds her all over again, that Qingcang is supposed to be her enemy, not the hot, tender-hearted love interest that she’s started to see him as.
I feel bad for Orchid, but I also feel bad for Qingcang, because the look on his face, even as Orchid retreats into her room, is open, tender and content. He means well, and has no idea that he’s just caused Orchid’s castle in the air to crumble into a million pieces.
Also, it seems rather sweet, that Qingcang tells Shangque to get rid of the fragments of the Chengying Sword.
I mean, this doesn’t only indicate that he has no intention of killing Orchid, like he’d once vowed to, but also, doesn’t this also mean that he’s content to be bound to her via the Xilan spell, indefinitely?
That’s the part that really gets to me. 🥰
E19-20. The scene where Orchid cries that she doesn’t know what she is, and Qingcang tells her that it doesn’t matter, and that she’s simply the most important person to him in the three realms, is so bittersweet.
It’s sweet that he sees her in such pure, simple terms, but it’s sad, that she’s reminded that she can’t stay with him forever, like he’s asking, and is, in fact, someone who threatens the safety of all the people she cares about, in Shuiyuntian.
This feels like such an insurmountable impasse.
Orchid can’t actually betray Shuiyuntian; it’s just not in her nature. And Qingcang can’t give up on defeating and destroying Shuiyuntian, because that’s the duty that’s been ingrained into him his entire life.
How will they overcome this very fundamental difference? 😭
E19-20. I rather like scene outside the entertainment house, where Orchid says that she’s tired, and Qingcang’s immediate reaction is to offer to carry her on his back. Hee, he might say that he doesn’t know gestures of affection, but sometimes it comes to him quite naturally, no?
I also appreciate the glimmer of honest conversation we get between Qingcang and Orchid, when he asks her what she’d meant, when she’d said that the Bone Orchid was her most prized possession.
Nothing actually changes, in that, Orchid still tells Qingcang that he will become her enemy the moment he attacks Shuiyuntian, but I just like the unguarded, look-me-in-the-eyes vibe of their conversation.
Also, it’s a nice touch, that Qingcang realizes how he’d used to threaten Orchid with her life, at the drop of a hat.
It would’ve been nicer if he’d apologized for it, but perhaps that will come later? At least it’s given him something to think about?
And it definitely looks like he’s got Orchid on the brain, given the way he talks to Shangque afterwards, and confesses that he just can’t get angry with Orchid, and that he’s affected by how distant she’s become.
You basically miss her, Qingcang, you just haven’t figure it out yet. 😁
But at least he’s cognizant of the fact that he’d like to spend eternity with her, judging from the way he buys that flower to put in her hair, because the young vendor pronounces that the flower will be good fortune for a harmonious union, even for a million years.
It’s too bad that he brushes it off as just something human that he’s imitating. Aw.
I do love the promise that they make to each other, to always be honest with each other, but really, it’s very poignant to know that they are literally still lying to each other, even as they make that promise.
Qingcang isn’t in Lucheng just to relax, and Orchid isn’t telling Qingcang about Changheng.
Gah. I just want Orchid and Qingcang to be happy together, is that too much to ask? 😭😭
E21-22. The close proximity of Qingcang and Orchid in that cupboard definitely made me sit up.
The hyper-awareness between them, in being in such close proximity to each other, is quite palpable, and none more so, than that moment when they turn to each other at the same time, and find themselves within literal kissing distance of each other.
Spazz. I couldn’t help rooting for them to actually kiss, in that moment, even though I knew it wouldn’t happen. 😅
E23-24. I actually kinda love the fake marriage thing that Qingcang comes up with, when their initial plan of putting Run off with an ugly and uncouth Orchid doesn’t work.
The shock on Run’s face is quite priceless, matched only by the shock on Orchid’s face, as she registers what Qingcang is doing.
I am inordinately tickled at the sight of Qingcang acting like a contrite, concerned husband, who only wants the best for his pregnant wife. Tee hee.
Also, through all of the goings-on, it’s clear to see that Qingcang is feeling protective and rather territorial over Orchid, because he likes her, and doesn’t want her spending time with Run under any pretext, even if it’s to assist the completion of the fate poem.
No wonder he puts so much effort into doing her ugly makeup for her, and then still hedges over allowing her to go to meet Run, and insists that she keep him waiting, to ensure that Run has a poor impression of her, heh.
But truly, all of that pales in comparison, when I think of him striding over to Orchid, and addressing her as his wife, and then starts acting all tender and familiar with her, tee hee. 🤭
Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch that Qingcang’s able to put on such a believably tender act so convincingly, and without any preparation, given how he’s usually so starched up, but y’know what, I love it so much that I’m happy to just close both eyes and just roll with it. 😁
And I do like that this fake marriage affords our OTP some alone time, as Qingcang and Orchid go wish on lanterns, just because they can.
It’s poignant though, that Orchid is reminded all over again, that she and Qingcang are on opposite sides, when he mentions that his wish is to conquer Shuiyuntian.
It’s bittersweet, watching them release those lanterns, because we know that their fundamental differences have not been resolved.
But it’s their individual voiceovers that really get me in the heart.
While Qingcang wishes silently, that Orchid would stay by his side forever, Orchid wishes that, even though she won’t be able to stay with him forever, that he’ll always be happy and loved.
Augh. That really did hit me in the gut.
E25-26. For the first time, Orchid desires to put aside their contexts, and just be with Qingcang, and that feels like a pretty significant step, even though it niggles at my brain, that the context is still going to be there, in the end.
And, that context shows itself sooner than I expect, even, with Rong Hao coming to see Orchid, and asking her to poison Qingcang’s wine, so that his power will be weakened, so that he won’t be able to retrieve Wanqing’s primordial spirit as planned.
Sigh. I wish Orchid didn’t have to be put in this kind of position, where someone’s life is on the line, and she’s tasked to do something bad to Qingcang.
Because, of course Orchid can’t bear for someone to die due to her inaction, but that also means that she’ll keep hurting Qingcang and taking advantage of his trust, and I do hate that. 😞
The silver lining here, is that Orchid does stop Qingcang from drinking the poisoned wine, just in time, by asking him about his plans.
1, that just brings their unsolvable conundrum back to the surface, and 2, Rong Hao had put that evil spirit in that bead on her bridal crown, so Qingcang’s not out of harm’s way, anyway. Boo.
I appreciate that when it comes down to it, both Orchid and Qingcang are selfless in how they each want to protect the other, with Orchid wanting Qingcang to stay away from the evil cloud, and Qingcang refusing to leave her in it.
While I’m honestly not suuper interested in all the fighting and tension between Shuiyuntian and the Moon Tribe, I do appreciate that when it comes down to it, Orchid chooses Qingcang.
This, even when she’s given the chance to return to Shuiyuntian, which is the only home she’s ever known – and that chance is offered by none other than Changheng, whom she’s liked for a long time.
E25-26. I guess there’s nothing like a near-death experience to bring your true feelings to the surface, eh? Because that’s exactly what happens for Orchid, when Qingcang’s so injured that he’s near death.
It’s super helpful that her blood has the power to revive the death, and even though it lands a touch convenient, I can’t fault Show for it, since this quality has been built into the goddess of Xishan for a long time.
I’m just glad to see Orchid being honest about her feelings for Qingcang, and I’m also glad to see Qingcang wake up and gently rub her back, as she sobs.
And! We have kisses!! Ardent, smoldery kisses 🔥, as Qingcang grapples with the idea that Orchid had risked everything to save him. Eee! 😁
E25-26. I do love that heart-to-heart talk that they have, where Orchid shares why she thinks that Qingcang shouldn’t have saved her, and Qingcang tells her that he doesn’t regret saving her.
“It was my decision to kill Xie Wanqing. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. And I will never regret saving you at that time. There must be another way to unseal the Moon Tribe soldiers.
But in all three realms, I can’t find another timid crybaby Orchid, who likes to meddle in things, causes a lot of trouble, but cares for me and takes care of me, makes me willing to rebirth the Love Trees for her, cry with her and laugh with her.”
Awww. That is the most overtly sweet thing Qingcang’s ever said to her, and it’s just giving me the warm fuzzies.
He’s basically telling her that she’s irreplaceable, and that he loves everything about her – even the meddling, crybaby part of her. That is very, very sweet. 🥰
E27-28. I love that playful moment when Orchid pouts that her legs are tired and she can’t walk anymore, and Qingcang takes her on his back in one swish, and then twirls around playfully, while Orchid squeals in protest.
My goodness, that is very cute indeed, and I can’t wipe the goofy grin off my face. 😁😍
The whole thing about the love locks is still low-key endearing, though it doesn’t get me in the heart like the spontaneous piggyback twirl.
I do like the idea that Qingcang and Orchid both want to buy those love locks as a token of love and forever, for each other.
E27-28. The key OTP events this episode, is our Qingcang and Orchid taking turns to, well, pay the price of their love? I suppose you could call it that?
Because Qingcang volunteering to receive nine Bone Devouring Spikes, which will torment him every night, until he frees those 100,000 soldiers, is all because everyone is against the idea of him wanting to marry Orchid, whom they perceive to be a jinx who will lead Qingcang astray.
And part of leading him astray, I guess, is leading him away from his goal, to free those soldiers, which is why Qingcang makes that vow, as he takes on the Bone Devouring Spikes.
While part of my brain protests that these Bone Devouring Spikes can’t be very helpful to Qingcang, since it sounds like they’ll wear him down instead of help him work towards his goal, but in principle I get why he makes that vow.
It’s basically the price that he pays, to satisfy their misgivings about Orchid.
I did like the idea of Orchid proposing to Qingcang, because, she’s been the one who’s been trying to deny her feelings for him all this time, so it’s just a nice turnaround, that she’s now so sure of him and committed to him, that she wants to marry him. Aw.
It’s just too bad, that just as Qingcang and Orchid are about the seal it with a kiss, Xunfeng shows up and brings up the rule that their first ancestor had set; that any fairy wanting to marry into the Moon Tribe, needs to enter Fuju Cave.
I appreciate how protective Qingcang gets, of Orchid, because he’s afraid that she might legit die in that cave, given what terribly painful punishment it is.
And I also appreciate that Orchid insists that she wants to pay that price, on her own, so that she doesn’t put Qingcang in a difficult position, and also, so that she can earn the respect of the tribe, properly.
I also found it a nice touch, that Orchid later tells Qingcang in private, that this is part of being equals, in a marriage relationship, where they each respect the other’s decisions. The dynamic in their relationship is shifting before our eyes, and it’s a positive thing.
E29-30. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming, the way Qingcang is shown to have spit out the wine that Orchid had asked him to drink – because he’s determined that she not suffer alone.
Aw. That really is so sweet and loyal of him. And, weirdly, I do think that it gives him a sense of assurance, to be able to feel everything that Orchid is feeling.
I feel like if I were in his shoes, the pain would be preferable to an empty void where I don’t know anything about what’s going on with Orchid, and I go crazy wondering how she’s doing.
Afterwards, it feels like sweet relief, for Orchid to exit Fuju Cave, and be greeted with respect by everyone from the Moon Tribe, and more importantly, to be received by Qingcang himself. After that ordeal, being with Qingcang must be the most comforting thing, for Orchid, I feel like.
And, the little scenes of Orchid happily preparing for the wedding are sweet.
E29-30. Grargh – Show introduces this thing, where, if Orchid doesn’t take off the Bone Orchid, she’ll die, because all her life energy will go to Rong Hao’s master (Cristy Guo).
BUT, she can’t take it off now, because she’s so in love with Qingcang, that taking off that Bone Orchid, which had been made with his heart’s blood, would literally kill her.
I’m perplexed that this is the situation that our OTP is in, because, what kind of a choice does that give Qingcang?
He loves Orchid, and at the same time, he has a deep duty to his people. How could he forsake either party? And yet, he must choose, because lives hang in the balance. Gah, I hate this. 😭
I appreciate that Qingcang is honest with Orchid, in the sense that he tells her that the war is coming, and is unavoidable, and I find it touching that despite the fundamental conflict that this creates in Orchid, she chooses to make a stand that her home is now Cangyan Sea, and that she will live and die alongside Qingcang.
That is a huge decision and commitment on Orchid’s part, and I honestly am quite impressed with how she sticks to her stance, even when Changheng appears and tells her her true identity as the goddess of Xishan, whose entire tribe had been wiped out by the Moon Tribe.
I’m surprised, actually, that it doesn’t take Orchid more than a second, to decide that it doesn’t matter, because she has no memory of her tribe. Her determination to commit herself to Qingcang is just that strong, which is impressive, given the newly revealed context.
To make everything worse, Qingcang’s decided that the best thing to do, is to push Orchid away, so that her love for him would be shaken, so that it would become safe to take the Bone Orchid off her wrist.
I mean, in another drama world, that would probably qualify as noble idiocy, but.. I can see why Qingcang would think that this would be the way to save her life.
It’s still distressing to watch him take steps to make her lose her love for him, though. 😩
The only consolation is that Orchid isn’t falling for it so easily, and is in determined denial that Qingcang would so such a thing to her.
Yep, our girl knows what she knows, and isn’t going to be gaslighted.
E31-32. For the record, I do think that the reason Orchid asks Xunfeng to take her to Xuanxu Realm, so that she can kill herself with the Chengying Sword, is not because she believes that Qingcang doesn’t love her, but because she can see what a difficult position he is in, because of her.
Additionally, she doesn’t want him to take the risk of dabbling with the evil spirit, because, as Xunfeng explains – almost accusingly – it will slowly destroy him.
She’s willing to kill herself, in order to set things right for Qingcang, as well as to protect him, and that is so selfless and sacrificial of her, honestly.
And, I do think it’s significant, that while Qingcang’s readying to use the evil spirit to revive his 100,000 troops, it’s the Heart Curse – and therefore, essentially Orchid – that gets him to come to himself, and go to her.
I hate that Qingcang doesn’t get to Orchid in time, and I hate that Orchid does kill herself with the Chengying Sword (or at least, part of it), but I have to say, I’d had an inkling that her death would bring life to everyone.
Just like the death of the Chidi Woman had sealed the troops in a state of limbo, Orchid’s death brings life not only to those soldiers, but also to everyone else who’s died in battle, in the war between Shuiyuntian and the Moon Tribe.
And that’s because Life is part of Orchid’s true nature. That’s why her blood can revive the dead, too.
Afterwards, poor Qingcang confines himself to a dream, where he’s living happily with Orchid, at Arbiter Hall.
The scenes of them are sweet, but the only problem is, this isn’t real, and worse, the effort of creating and sustaining this dream world, is only draining Qingcang of his life force. Ack. Is he.. trying to die with Orchid..? 🥺
It’s really poignant, actually, that the reason Qingcang eventually chooses to wake up from the dream, is for no other reason, than the hope that Orchid can be brought back to life – even if it means, that she’d likely end up marrying Changheng, as prophesied in the Tianji Mirror.
That is pretty selfless and sacrificial, isn’t it, since it means facing twice the harsh reality – one, that Orchid’s not actually by his side like in his dream, and two, that Orchid’s destined to marry someone else.
It’s a double whammy, but Qingcang’s willing to face it, if it means that Orchid might live.
Augh. That scene, where Dream Orchid begs him not to go, and Dream Arbiter Hall disintegrates around them, piece by piece, is so bittersweet and poignant. 😭
Her heartwrenching tears, as she begs him not to leave; the haunted, grieved expression on his face, as he tells her that he has to leave, and that he will save her; that final embrace, before Dream Orchid disintegrates, along with the rest of Dream Arbiter Hall.
Guh. It’s so much, really. And yet, it’s so little, at the same time, because this isn’t really Orchid. 💔
Zhang Ling He as Changheng
I have to confess that in my mind, Changheng was not much more than the token second male lead, doomed to pine after our female lead forever and ever.
But, I also wanted to give a shoutout to Julianne, who said in my first set of episode notes over on Patreon, that in a different drama, Changheng could have been our male lead.
The more I watched of this show, the more I was able to see that.
In fact, I also began to see that in a different show, Dongfang Qingcang could have well been our second male lead, doomed to pine for our female lead, for eternity. 😅
[VAGUE GENERAL SPOILERS]
I mean, we have the forbidden nature of the potential loveline between Changheng and Orchid, and he’s doing all sorts of things to stay true to his duty while protecting her – but also hurting her, at the same time.
In another show, Things would happen so that this gets cleared up, so that they can actually fall in love without censure or guilt.
In that hypothetical other show, Dongfang Qingcang would support Orchid and fall in love with her, but never have that love reciprocated.
Heh. I feel like I’ve actually seen a version of those events in other xianxia dramas before, where the demon lord falls for a fairy or immortal, but can never be with her. 😅
In that sense, Show isn’t as predictable as I’d first imagined (because, the moment we met Orchid, I just knew she had some kind of birth secret, heh), which I consider to be a Very Good Thing.
Overall, I wasn’t super invested in Changheng’s journey, but I do appreciate that we see some measure of character growth and maturity in him, by the time we get to the end of our story.
Xu Hai Qiao as Rong Hao
I can’t say that I liked Rong Hao as a character, but I really did find him more interesting than Changheng, comparatively speaking, and that does count for something.
Here are just a few of my thoughts on Rong Hao as a character, from my watch.
E7-8. I’m surprised (but not that surprised) that Rong Hao turns out to be a baddie sort of character.
I’m not terribly surprised because I just watched Xu Hai Qiao in A Dream Of Splendor, where his character Ouyang Xu isn’t such a good egg.
What does surprise me, is that Rong Hao’s actually the Masked Boss Dude of Haishi City, and is bent on doing whatever necessary, to bring his dead Master (whom he appears to have strong, almost romantic feelings for) back to life.
I definitely didn’t see this coming, so this twist is quite welcome.
And, I’m actually happy that Show lets us in on Rong Hao’s two-faced nature early on, because I feel it adds an interesting layer of tension to the scenes where he’s being his apparently nice, upright and pleasant self.
E19-20. Even though he’s our resident baddie, there’s something poignant about the way Rong Hao’s yearned for his Master, all these tens of thousands of years.
And, he’s yearned for her so intensely, that even in her mortal form, she seems to wait for him, without knowing what or whom she’s waiting for.
That’s quite romantic, yes?
E21-22. While I found the exposition a little boring, I do appreciate the idea that Rong Hao wasn’t always evil.
And, it’s probably good background information to have, that he’s at the mercy of that disembodied voice of that evil being, because his Master’s body is being kept alive by the evil spirit.
Theoretically, I find it an interesting idea, that Rong Hao’s core nature isn’t evil, and that he’s just that desperate to revive his Master, whom he clearly loves.
It makes me wonder if Rong Hao actually feels conflicted between his evil pledge and his core nature, which is good, and if that conflict will come into play in a significant way, in his personal arc.
That said, I’m more interested in this in a detached, theoretical sort of manner than anything else, because I don’t actually feel that engaged with Rong Hao’s story, to be honest.
Zhang Chen Xiao as Xunfeng
The main thing I wanted to say about Xunfeng, is that I found it hard to trust him, pretty much all the way through to the end of our story.
Which means that even when he was doing good and things, I still regarded him with a great deal of suspicion. 😅
Mainly, my suspicion towards Xunfeng stems from how he sets himself against Qingcang, from the moment that we meet him, in episode 9.
With his desire to kill Qingcang AND Orchid, at various points in our story, and with how I’d gotten used to him being kinda two-faced, I found that I couldn’t bring myself to trust Xunfeng, even after he’d shown contrition, and made up with Qingcang.
Even though he made up with Qingcang and pledged his allegiance to his brother, I still got suspicious of him, every time he questioned Shangque about stuff.
It made me feel like he was just waiting for an opportunity to take over the throne, or kill Orchid, or something.
Also, him making up with Qingcang didn’t make him want to kill Orchid any less, so that didn’t help. 😅
Happily, Xunfeng’s allegiance and loyalty to Qingcang turns out to be real, so a lot of my suspicion was unnecessary, after all. 😅
Lin Bai Rui as Shangque
I just wanted to give Shangque a shout-out, because I really liked his singleminded loyalty towards Qingcang.
Even when things seemed hopeless, he never wavered in his decision to stay loyal to Qingcang, and I liked that a lot.
I also found him quite a fun mix of badass and dorky, and a nice addition to our drama world.
The fact that his true form is a badass fierce dragon was pretty cool too, I thought. 😁
Shangque and Jieli
Just before our halfway point, Show starts teasing a potential loveline between Jieli and Shangque.
I was low-key amused by this, partly because Jieli’s fast-talking ways make Shangque look like such a dim dork sometimes, but also partly because Shangque’s discombobulation and related confusion was really quite endearing.
Without getting spoilers, I just wanted to say that I would have liked this loveline to have been given a more tangible ending.
That would have been nice.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Ok, so I have to admit that this finale stretch was a little uneven, for me personally. But, I did like where we ended up, so this was positive for me, overall.
Basically, I understand that Show’s got a lot of thread to wrap up, and needs to make sure that it all gets done, by the time the final credits roll.
However, in the watch experience, what this means is that there’s a lot of Stuff that happens, and not all of the Stuff was truly stuff that I was all that interested in.
For example, I’ve never been really that engaged with Rong Hao’s story with his Master, so the entire time Show was working on wrapping up their arc, I was mostly interested only in a cursory sort of manner.
That said, I do think that the ending that Show chooses, for Rong Hao and Master, is fitting, given the circumstances.
After all the evil that Rong Hao’s done, and after Master’s been so thoroughly damaged and tainted by the evil spirit that Rong Hao had used to bring her back to life, it feels like the right thing to do, to have them die, and then allow them to be together in death.
At least, in the way this arc was wrapped up, Rong Hao comes back to himself, and demonstrates that he wasn’t truly evil, so much as he was deluded and misguided.
Plus, in dying to flout Tai Sui’s plan to take over Master’s body, Rong Hao does earn a tiny bit of redemption for himself; enough for Changheng and Qingcang to pay their respects at their twin graves.
Not bad overall, yes?
In comparison, I was even less interested in the reconciliation between Danyin (Wang Yue Yi) and Jieli (oops), though I think it’s quite nice, in principle, that they finally accept each other as sisters.
And of course, Danyin taking Jieli to Arbiter Hall to seek Goddess Orchid’s help to heal Jieli of the poison in her body, brings Jieli and Shangque back into each other’s orbit, which is nice, since Jieli and Shangque need a chance to reconcile, just as much as our OTP.
As for our OTP, which is the arc that I was most interested in, I have to confess that the road to happiness – and the watch experience of it – was a rather bumpy one, in this finale stretch.
I liked the initial portion, where we see Qingcang tending to Orchid, after she’s been planted back in Xishan. The way he waters her, and takes care of her, with the utmost attentiveness and tenderness, is quite lovely to see.
However, I was bummed by the new version of Orchid that we get, in the sense that everything that I’d enjoyed and been charmed by about Orchid, was now gone, and in her place, we get this very distant, measured Goddess.
It was hard watching her reject Qingcang over and over again, while he looked at her with such puppy eyes.
And then, to learn that she actually did remember him, was a bit of a sucker punch to the gut too, because it just made it so much worse, that she did remember him, but was determined to reject him, while pretending not to have any of Orchid’s memories.
Gah. Poor Qingcang. 😭
The silver lining, for me, is that it is touching to see how devoted Qingcang is towards Orchid, even when he thinks that she has no memory of him, and that the Orchid whom he knows and loves, is no longer in existence.
Also, Dylan Wang looks positively incandescent in some of the scenes in this final stretch, which was a huge plus for me, since I just love – so much! 🤩 – his visuals in this show. ❤️
And, even though it’s a bummer that Orchid pretends that she doesn’t remember him, the bittersweetness of watching Qingcang choose to love Orchid for all time, even though he believes that there are no traces left of her, in the world, is quite lovely, in its own poignant way.
That scene on the bridge, where Qingcang breaks down and tells Orchid, whom he believes is gone forever, why he’d been so mean and horrible to her; that it had been the only way to save her life, is so poignant.
His regret and brokenness, at how Orchid had continued to love him, despite his best efforts to make her stop loving him, is very affecting, and I can understand why Goddess Orchid, who hears everything, wouldn’t be able to stop her tears from leaking out.
I’m glad that the prospect of never seeing him again, after he leaves for Cangyan Sea, and her own impending death that she believes will happen soon, when she faces off with Tai Sui, breaks Orchid’s resolve just enough, that she would reach out and push the corners of Qingcang’s lips into a smile, just like she’s done many times in the past.
While it hurts me to see the heartbreak in Qingcang’s eyes, as he realizes that she’d been pretending not to know him all along, it does feel freeing, for him to finally know the truth, and also, this does pave the way for our final arc.
I find it incredibly touching, that when Qingcang realizes that Orchid plans to sacrifice herself in order to destroy Tai Sui, he hatches a plan to sacrifice himself instead – because this will not only save her life, but also, give her peace, going forward.
Guh. That scene where he appears before her, at Arbiter Hall, and kisses her, is so swoony.
The way he grabs her for the kiss, like his life depends on it, juxtaposed with how sweetly tender and ardently heartfelt the kiss itself is, totally melts my knees, and I am a flailing puddle as they both allow themselves to drown in this suspended moment of wistful, fervent, deeply felt kisses. 🔥
And then, Qingcang walks away and disappears, as abruptly as he’d appeared – to prepare himself to face Tai Sui, alone.
It’s completely badass, and completely heartbreaking, all at the same time, which means I don’t even really know what to do with myself, watching him.
Talk about a multi-pronged attack on the heart, y’know? 😩
His determination in facing Tai Sui; his aura of peace and acceptance, at the idea that his death will save Orchid and give her a peaceful life; his wisdom and discernment, as he tells Tai Sui that the fears that Tai Sui are bringing up, are Tai Sui’s own, and not his.
Augh. It’s all so heart-in-throat affecting, honestly.
I was admittedly bummed when Qingcang wavers, when Tai Sui taunts him that Orchid will forget he ever existed, because that allows Tai Sui to take over his body, BUT, that’s when Orchid’s love comes into play, and she’s the one who fights her way over to Qingcang.
And when she gets to him, she doesn’t hesitate to kiss him (although, in that moment, he’s got beady demon eyes, thanks to Tai Sui inhabiting his body), and thus enter the sea of his heart.
The way Qingcang pleads with her to kill him, before he runs out of strength to hold Tai Sui at bay, and the way Orchid weeps, completely unwilling, but torn by Qingcang’s plea, which is for the greater good, is utterly heartrending to watch.
My only consolation here, is that Show gives them a suspended moment in time, to kiss each other goodbye. 😭
And, Qingcang does leave a sliver of himself behind – the Bone Orchid – which Orchid then waters in her magic garden, for the next 500 years.
Yes, it’s an obvious mirroring of how Qingcang had held onto that sliver of Orchid’s primordial spirit, and nursed her back to life, but I’ll take it (of course), because it’s my only hope for a happy ending, for this OTP.
As we close out the finale episode with Orchid’s voiceover of how love affects each and every person differently, Qingcang does come back to life, huzzah! 🤩
The way he reappears, and says simply, “I’m back,” before walking to Orchid to finally kiss her, is so matter-of-fact, yet sweet and swoony, at the same time.
Augh. So tender, so gentle, so focused, and so full of love. ❤️
Part of me wishes that we’d gotten a deeper and longer glimpse at their happy-ever-after, but I absolutely cannot argue with the sweet, swoony note on which we leave our couple.
Be happy together, always, you two. 🥰
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A little uneven, but Show’s bright spots outweigh its rough edges. Worth it for Dylan Wang, who is *chef’s kiss* sooo well cast in this.
FINAL GRADE: B++
Here’s a short teaser, which isn’t spoilery, but which doesn’t quite get Show’s vibe right, in my opinion.
Here’s a longer trailer which is closer to Show’s actual vibe, but which is moderately spoilery, thanks to its length.
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Love Between Fairy And Devil, is Mr. Bad [China]. I’ve taken an initial look, and I’m happy to say that I’m having a pretty good time with it. My E1-2, E3-4 notes on Mr. Bad 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 + the first set notes of all shows covered on Patreon (that’s 2 episodes for kdramas and 4 episodes 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