Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 3 (Recap)

We are reminded of the danger that Lin Shu is in several times in this episode. Another great friend joins his team, but will that be enough? He has planned his return and his revenge for many years, but he is clearly unwell and tormented by the memories of his violent past. At the moment, people are still mainly curious about him or covet his service, but I fear that won't last forever...
I think there are a lot of folks around here who covet his service, too. I'm still not one of them, but I am warming up to him.
Lin Shu. Both in and out of the drama, Hu Ge definitely commands my respect. I love how at this point in the drama, his weakness and fragility serve as an excellent mask for the intelligence and strength behind his drive to fulfill his plan. 

Episode 3

Nihuang and Lin Shu's ... wait. I need to settle on one thing to call him! I think I'll just call him Mr. Su or Mei Changsu for the time being. Okay, Nihuang and Mr. Su's leisurely stroll through the palace  is interrupted by shouting: an eunuch is hitting a young servant boy who spilled some water while scrubbing the floors. In addition, he finds a book on him! That enrages the eunuch further, but gets Mei Changsu' attention - and he also hears that Prince Jing has protected the boy in the past. Obviously, the eunuch looks down on Prince Jing like everybody else and says he has no power to protect the boy here ... But here he comes!
Care to repeat that, Mr. Eunuch? What's that? No? Guess you don't have the balls to say it to his face, huh? No offense, of course.
Prince Jing looks so sad there! I just want o hug him. I detest people who beat children. Ugh. 
Nihuang is protective of Prince Jing too, she tells him to be careful seeing how he is not high in favor and there are many that want to do him harm
The eunuch cowers and finds slimy excuses for his behavior (he is gross!). Nihuang cannot tolerate it and strikes him with her whip, after which the disgusting man scurries away. The boy's name, we find out, is Tingshen. He is eleven.
I knew I liked that girl.
This trio of people here. I heart them. 
Prince Jing suddenly becomes aware of Mr. Su, who bows politely and is introduced by Nihuang as Su Zhe. But why does Prince Jing have such an interest in this boy? He claims it's because he looked pitiful and because his mother, who could read, became a servant due to an unfortunate circumstance (Suuuuuure). Mei Changsu offers to teach the boy not only to read, but also to understand - but Prince Jing tells him that servant slaves are neither allowed to leave the palace, nor do they have any right to an education. And these particularly lowly servants can only ever do anything if the Emperor allows.
Are you thinking birth secrets?
Su Zhe wins like a million points for being nice to the boy. Make that a bazillion. I guess a perk of being seen as in the pugilist world is that he looks for merit where there is without regard for social status. 
There's an interesting thing going here in addition that I should probably add. Jing does not recognize or know Su, which surprises him, seeing how he is on the palace ground (Jing himself needs special permission to enter many parts of the palace, as we know). Su says that it's not overly surprising, since he is only a commoner. But Jing does not buy this "only a commoner". He has definitely noticed this Mr. Su now.
Like Mei Changsu cares! He simply states that he will find a way to free Tingshen. It's possible that Prince Jing inherited some of his father's suspiciousness, in any case, he begins questioning the scholar: why is he so interested in this particular child? Yeah, good question! Nihuang wants to know why Jing is so interested himself. Princeling won't say, but he is willing to let Mr. Su and try to get the boy's release.
I mean, why wouldn't he? It's no trouble to him if there's one less servant in the palace, right?
Prince Jing's actions belie that he cares a lot more about what happens to that young servant boy than he can or wants to say. What secret is he hiding? 
The martial arts competition is still going on (the Princes have left, after they heard that Su might most likely not come back). Nihuang’s little brother Mu Qing gets word that his sister has been walking around and chatting amiably with a scholar. Curious and protective of his older sister, he sends a subordinate to check that man out.
Ooooh...check that man out. No, really, the one next to the Prince down there. Nice! although his mustache is very weird.
I find Mu Qing rather handsome. 
Mei Changsu is walking back, thinking about all that has just happened, when suddenly, Mu Qing's soldier appears in front of him - and attacks! Su just stands there, unmoving, because he knows that Fei Liu will be there to protect him. "Don't hurt him", he reminds Fei Liu quietly, when he is about the throw the soldier somewhere forcefully.
Love it. Love every bit of it. Mei Changsu's calm faith in Fei Liu, the mere fact of Fei Liu's amazing fifteen-year-old existence, the way the scene is filmed, with such strong lines and visual perspective, the wirework, all of it.
This drama. ❤❤❤❤❤❤ Can I hug the director of cinematography? The head of choreography? The director? The set builders? And Fei Liu. One of my all time favourite drama characters. Adorable and awesome.
Luckily, Meng Zhi appears and scolds the soldier for fighting on sacred ground. After dismissing the guy, he slowly approaches Mei Changsu. Standing still slightly to his side, he says "it's been twelve years - you've finally come back". He knows who he is!!!!! Well, they have been in contact all those years, and apparently, Meng has told him repeatedly NOT to come back. The danger is too great! Mei Changsu is sure that nobody will recognize him - his face is completely changed, there are no traces of the past (and yet, Meng immediately knew who he was!). Meng worries and fusses some more (he does not like his friend living in the Xu-manor) and they decide to meet later.
HE'S A GOOD BOY. No wait, that was a different drama. But yay! Meng is a good guy! I'm soooo happy! I need to go see what this guy looks like in real life.*short pause* Okay, but I think I like him better this way.
MENG ZHI!!!!!!!!! I love how he fusses over Mei Changsu so much. I just love the whole band of awesome Mei Changsu has around him. I totally get why they're loyal to him, but he also just attracts awesome people to his side. 
Nihuang is greatly pissed to hear about her brother's little stunt (I wonder who told her?). Mu Qing in turn is surprised by his sister's vehemence and quit unimpressed when he learns that Mei Changsu is the leader of the Jiangzuo Alliance. Well, there is this: two years ago, Nihuang faced great difficulties during a military operation. Mysteriously, a stranger appeared and helped her find the right strategy. The stranger used a fake identity and Nihuang had him followed, but he disappeared without a trace at the Jiangzuo border. To her, it's quite obvious that he was a) sent by Mei Changsu and that b) his appearance in the Imperial City at this time is not a mere coincidence.
Awwwww. Hey, wait. Why couldn't she marry the leader of the Jiangzuo Alliance? I mean, yes, we know why she can't... but she doesn't. The Emperor doesn't.
I don't think royalty are allowed to marry commoners... or at least that's what I assume is the reason other than all the other stuff. 
Yes. There is a lot of that "commonor"-"high born" thing in this episode, maybe to make that point absolutely clear
Mei Changsu is currently napping in his room (poor man ... so tired), when General Meng appears. He is still very worried about Su (he is constantly cold, too), and it takes some convincing on the sick man's part until Meng realizes that he can best help by pretending not to know him. He is so fiercely loyal, this one... even though he only served one year in the Chi Yan army. Remembering the details of the massacre is very painful for Su.
What exactly is wrong with Mei Changsu?
Su Zhe! Take care of your health! 
The fights at the tournament continue (and the Princes try to woo Mei Changsu with wagons full of gifts). Su is not attending the fights anymore, using his delicate condition for an excuse. Yujin and Jingrui also participate - they're both really good! They both make it to the top ten. After this, there will be a written exam! I wouldn't mind one of the two as Nihuang's husband ... not that they would make it long though. She would eat them for breakfast!
They're so cute with their buddyness and their cheery dispositions.
I love how super adorable they are and at the same time they're actually super badass martial arts experts. 
Well, I hope this is kept fair, because apparently, the Crown Prince and his mother, the Consort Yue, are plotting some specific alliance that serves them best, of course. Hehe, the Empress has also already positioned her own (and Prince Yu's) candidate. Unfortunately, the Emperor seems to like Consort Yue the best - she's a snake! But at least, he also requests Mei Changsu to be the examiner for the written test, at Nihuang's request.
It looks like a jewelry store threw up on her head.
I hope she empales herself on her headdress. 
At the tournament, a big bear of a man (nobody knows who he is) is besting everybody. His abilities are scary, especially since it looks like he might win the whole thing - and it looks like Nihuang would not be able to beat him either. A fact that Meng himself confirms. Haha, the Emperor has a little freak-out over the fact that this guy is not on the Lang Ya list - but they only rank those who have already "shown their abilities" aka are known. Bai Liqi, the Bear, has been hiding until now. But the princess cannot be married to Northern Yan, Bear's home country! It would make them too powerful.
Oopsy Daisy, whatcha gonna do now, Mr. Emperor? Can this guy be all Hagrid to Mei Changsu's Harry, please?
Haha. Emperor's plan is totally going to backfire on him! Ha. That's what he gets for not trusting Nihuang. Though I don't want Nihuang to get saddled with someone she doesn't like either. This is all going to work out, right?
The Sunshine Duo (that's Jingrui and Yujin) hope to wound the Bear at the upcoming feast for the Top Ten ... in order to help Nihuang beat him afterwards. Su just smiles. In the process of their talk, we learn about Jingrui's birth secret (actually, this is only part of it): the two wives of Zhuo and Xie Yu gave birth at the exact same time. When everything turned pitch black due to a violent storm, they couldn't tell which baby was which. And sadly, one of the boys died the next day. So - which family does Jingrui belong to? Avoiding any complications, the Emperor declared him a son of both families.
Why would the wives of two families be in the same room giving birth? (I don't remember who Zhuo is and I'm trying to distract myself for a minute to see if I remember, before I give up and go look.)
There was a dangerous illness making its rounds in the Imperial City, so they were sent to a remote mountain together. In a very stormy night, they both went into labor at the exact same time
I guess this is the Chinese solution to the King Solomon's problem of a baby and two mothers? Have we met daddy Zhuo yet in the drama? I can't remember. (Yes we have, super briefly in episode 1) His cute son was the one who escaped the armada of ships in the first episode though, so I know we've met him. 
The time for the banquet has come! But first, Su Zhe is called into the hall to meet the Emperor (he looks so frail, our Su) and is given some kind of special status for overseeing the exams. He is now no longer just a commoner.
The feast seems a bit boring, so Yu proposes some merry fighting in the hall. Su shuts the Crown Prince, who wanted to sabotage his brother's plan, up with a tiny shake of his head. Hahahaaaa, love how he is able to manipulate him. Jingrui quickly volunteers to take on the Bear Man. He even gets to use a sword! (which I find very unfair) And yet, he does not win ... I'd actually say he is weaker. Oh no! Will Nihuang have to marry that brute?
I bet he turns out to be an awesome guy. Oh! Any chance Lang Ya knew about this contest and that this guy is a plant?
Maybe he's a really nice teddy bear and not a mean grizzly? 


They air two episodes back to back normally in China, right? This clearly is a build-up episode and leaves us wondering - how will Mei Changsu get Nihuang out of this situation? I like that she is now aware of him as somebody who helped her in the past (probably wondering why he would have done that) and I absolutely love that she is such a smart, capable woman, who senses that this guy is much more than he wants to seem. I also like that the two younglings are so blissfully ignorant - they simply don't get anything, neither the careless Yujin, nor the much more earnest Jingrui. And finally, little prince Mu? Ahahaha, priceless how he just threw an arm around Su's shoulder as if they were the best friends in the world!
I think you'll understand me when I say this feels like a book. So full of little things and side trips, in a way that movies never can be.
Yup, they aired two episodes a night for 27 days. I think that we're getting such a beautifully intricate plot because the novel's author is also the screenplay writer. Thumbs up for this idea. I love that Meng Zhi is on team awesome and that Nihuang is certainly leaning that way. Yay! I can't wait for more awesome to come!