Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 4 (Recap)

Parts of what Mei Changsu plans remain hidden (we just know he has something up his sleeve, don't we), but a major part of what he is doing in the Imperial City is revealed - and it has to do with this lovely face below. In this, like in many other episodes, a lot goes right for Mei Changsu, but there is always something that does not, something that threatens him or the people he cares for. In this episode, it's some evil scheming women in the palace. Careful! 
JoAnne: He even looks princely, doesn't he? The other two, not so much.
dewaanifordrama: That face. I'm in love. So much. And he does look so regal. That jawline. 

Episode 4

Awww, poor Jingrui has a hard time against the power of the Bear Man Bai Li! Before one of them gets seriously injured, the Emperor orders them to stop fighting. Everybody looks concerned, only Mei Changsu eats another tangerine and does not care a bit about what is going on. Even when some of the envoys start exchanging heated words, he chats nonchalantly with Nihuang. The Emperor notices that and requests to know what the two are talking about.
Look at these two, thick as thieves already.
Mei Changsu and his tangerines. Love it. Poor Nihuang and Su Zhe, they can't help but be drawn to each other. 
Nihuang gets up and tells everyone that Mei Changsu claims he knows Bear Man's weak points: Even a few completely untrained children can defeat him. Ah, the insult! Just have them try, challenge accepted! Oh, says Mei Changsu, but where might he find boys to train who have absolutely no previous martial arts experience? Ahhhh, you sly fox!! Nihuang says there are many such children in the palace: in the servant prisons! Will Emperor allow it?
It's like they're working together, except he couldn't have clued her in to his plans.
Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! Mei Changsu is so intelligent! Intelligence is so hotte!!! Even though Nihuang certainly isn't in on the planning, she's one smart cookie herself. You can see why they got along in the past and now, and why they're perfect for each other. 
Yes, he will: Meng Zhi volunteers to go choose three suitable boys... Tingshen is the third he picks. Mei Changsu asks permission to take them home for 5 days. That's granted, plus the Emperor promises a generous reward. Su pretends to misunderstand and says the boys are all criminals and have no use for gold. The Emperor chuckles and sets him right: The reward is for himself, of course! That's something Su can't possibly accept though, he stammers, the ones who will do all the work are the boys. I see what you're doing there, Su...
More and more convinced that Bear Man is a plant.
I'm so glad that Meng Zhi is on team awesome and that Mei Changsu knows what's what. ❤❤❤
Elsewhere in the palace, Consort Jing accompanies another concubine, who has just been reprimanded by the Empress for sloppy work, to an abandoned, scary part of the palace, where she is to burn candles for the dead. By chance, they overhear part of a conversation between a maid and an old servant. Someone in the palace has sought and now found an intoxicating substance, an aphrodisiac, that apparently was used on Grand Princess Liyang before (that is Jingrui's mother). This substance is forbidden and the two shocked women leave quickly and unseen.
That's her punishment? Go get spooked?
Well, it seems to work :) 
Not only is it an aphrodisiac but some form of the date rape drug. Ugh. No wonder they're so shocked! On a happier note, I'm always glad to see Consort Jing on my screen. I want to cheer whenever she appears!
At Marquis Xie's house, the training of the three boys is in full swing! Fei Liu seems to be in charge, at least for the oversight, while Mei Changsu prefers to read - apparently, he just know they'll win.
Well, he is a man with a plan, after all.
Martial arts is pretty dang awesome! And it always looks so incredibly beautiful. I know this is all choreographed, but it looks so effortless and transcendent. It makes me think of a ballet performance from The Beijing Dance Academy that I saw once. It was easily one of the most beautiful dance performances I have ever witnessed. One of the numbers they performed was The Butterfly Lovers, which coincidentally Hu Ge stars in a movie version of that legend. Sorry to be a bit random, but that was my train of thought. Haha. Welcome to my mind. 
Nihuang drops by for a visit, but after she observes (and is impressed by) the kids, she still voices some concern: it's not enough to beat the Bear Man. Patience, is what Mei Changsu tells her, but she is not convinced. But since Mei Changsu is so decisively unworried, she guesses he has something up his sleeve? He only smiles a bit - and then tells her to trust in him. And she replies that even though she doesn't understand why, she does. The exchange with her saddens him and he quickly walks away.
I can't decide if I want her to know or not.
I just want to hug Su Zhe. It must drive him a little crazy to live with such a complicated and dangerous layering of who is and what his goal is. And I love Nihuang for trusting him. What good people he has around him. And then I started tearing up because I just love this drama so much.
Clever Consort Jing, who is of low status and has no access to most of the palace and its people, finds a way to meet privately with Grand Princess Liyang - to ask her about that fabled love potion. Liyang was given it herself, back in the day, so that Marquis Xie Yu could pluck her. Yup, marrying the Emperor's younger sister is certainly a good match! In truth, though, Liyang was in love with a Prince that stayed at the Imperial City as a hostage. Those memories hurt Liyang deeply and she is shocked when she realizes who is in danger of being given the love wine: Nihuang!
I wonder what happened to that Prince?
I feel deeply sorry for Grand Princess Liyang. The trauma of a rape that she's never really discussed. It just makes me angry. 
The servant boys are still training and Mei Changsu praises them for their ability. Awww, the pride on their faces ... Fei Liu quickly steps closer to his master, angling for some praise of his own! He gets it and is very happy *scratches the puppy behind the ears*.
Awwww, look at them all. I love them all!
*Happiness* I totally get why everyone wants Mei Changsu's approval. One can't help but love him and want to be on his side. Well other than the bad guys I guess. And Fei Liu, I heart that kid so much. He's like the puppiest of puppies and his adoration of Su is so epic. I love it. 
But then, Prince Jing approaches, stiff as always - it seems Su has been expecting him. Prince Jing, who realizes that, says he made some inquires about Su, and found out he has ties to his two brothers. Whom will he choose? he asks. "I will choose you", says Su.
Jing! Look closely!
Yaaaaaaaaas!!! I choose Prince Jing too! 
That greatly amuses the warrior prince - but when he starts talking again, there is bitterness in his voice. He is a nobody, he says - Mei Changsu must be delusional. Him on the throne is about as far fetched as the clouds, Jing says, and not worth talking about - but if Su manages to block his two brothers' path to the throne, he would be happy. Su says that getting Tingshen out of the prison is his present to Prince Jing - let it be the beginning of their alliance.
*Shivers as a hint of friendship-to-come wafts through the air* #WhenAManHasABromance
Prince Jing! Trust him! You are worth it! You are special! Can you already be best buds, like right now? Please?! 
Prince Jing guesses that Mr. Su only got the boy out so that he would be in a good position to offer him an alliance, which Su confirms. That makes him a type of person Prince Jing hates the most: those that plot every move and use others. Even if he got him on the throne, he would not get much gratitude from him. Mei Changsu is confident they will work it out, though - seeing how strong Prince Jing's morals are. It's quite fascinating how Prince Jing has gone from "are you crazy" to "hmmm, wait a second" in such a short time.
*Backs sadly off the bromance boat* #WhenAManCockBlocksHisOwnDamnSelf (Jo, these hashtags are the best. I heart you).
Oh Prince Jing. I totally get why he's suspicious. He lives in a corrupt court that constantly looks down on him. I bet he feels incredibly alone. Prince Jing, I will comfort you! 
At night, Mei Changsu and Meng Zhi sit together and we learn who Tingshen is, judging by his appearance: the only surviving child of the Crown Prince Qi, hidden away by his mother. We will learn later that he was the eldest brother of Prince Jing and Lin Shu's maternal cousin. His birth mother was Consort Chen, General Lin's sister - both mother and son are dead. Prince Qi was wrongly accused of being the mastermind behind the treason committed by the Cheyan Army and his father sentenced him to death and she killed herself.
His father was the Emperor...wasn't he part of the plot? (No, he wasn't ... but he was stupid enough to believe Xiu Yu and other snakes) He made his own son the scapegoat?
Yeah, this silly, suspicious Emperor killed his own son, despite his innocence just because he trusted Xiu Yu and the others and was scared of Prince Qi. It's no wonder Prince Jing isn't such a fan of the court and why he's suspicious of Su. And judging from what we know of Prince Jing's integrity and what has been mentioned, a lot of that is to Prince Qi's credit. It's also another reason why Lin Shu is so intent on avenging him.
These two men always inevitably end up talking about the painful past and once again, Meng Zhi shows curiosity and concern a second time about what happened to the Lin Shu he knew. But Su is still not ready to talk about it - but he is very determined to make the best out of this second chance. He shares with Meng his plan to assist Prince Jing - and that he is ready to go all the way, pulling all the stops. 
*Hops aboard the MeiMing ship* #WhenAManHasMultipleBuds
Seriously, Team Awesome - everyone who is on Mei Changsu's side. 
All of a sudden, Princess Liyang appears outside Mei Changsu's quarters. Careful, woman! Her husband has her shadowed all the time, but it seems she got away unseen. She has come to tell him about the danger she thinks Nihuang is in - he is her only option. She begs him to warn Nihuang about the other women in the palace, especially the Empress, and of course, Mei Changsu agrees.
Especially the Empress? Really? Hmm. Okay, I guess that means the Empress was behind getting Liyang married off to the Marquis, but is she still doing that kind of thing?
I think it was not the Empress, but the Empress Dowager? In any case, seeing how the Royal Family already used it once, it seems likely they will do so again.
I think it was the Empress, and not the Empress Dowager. I can't remember if it's in flashbacks here or later, but I'm pretty sure it was the Empress. 
Yes, it's the Empress, I checked
Oh shit, while she is still at Mr. Su's place, her husband returns! The Marquis attempts to go check on his wife, but her old maid, who knows exactly what would happen if Xie Yu found out his wife is gone, lies to him that the princess is not in a good mood due to some old memories about a certain wine and a certain now-husband's involvement. It works and he turns away, maybe feeling remorse? No? Anyway, his wife is able to return safely, but Su - Su is worried. Worried for his lovely Nihuang.
Does that rotten man actually love his wife? I didn't expect that.
Weird reaction, right?
Totally weird. I guess he thought it was love to drug a women and have his way with her? Ugh. And yay for awesome maids!


There are several lovely interactions and emotions again in this episode. The first is Nihuang's profession of trust in Mr. Su - whom she hardly knows, but whom she an obvious connection to. Of course, Su Zhe knows exactly what he is doing, but when she says it, it shakes him again. Being with her seems to bring him both great pleasure and great pain at the same time. *sigh* To be with her is a gift, but to be with her and not be himself, that must be very, very painful.
I still say that they could get married AND he could have his revenge. (he still IS considered a commoner, as one of our commenters wrote - he just got a special title for the time being) And then they could go off to Lang Ya Bang and do like Jo and the Professor and run a school that takes in wild boys and makes them good men. YES!!!
That would be amazing if he could have his revenge cake and eat it, then continue to drink his tea with Nihuang forever and ever. I really would love to give Su a hug.

The second important interaction is with Prince Jing, of course. It's the first time they talk at length. Prince Jing has taken an interest in the scholar and has investigated and what he learns does not impress him. In general, our Xiao Jingyan seem inclined to misunderstand Su, and Su does nothing to correct him, quite the opposite. He does not need or want Prince Jing's love - but he is ready to do all the dirty work necessary to get this man of intact morals onto the throne.
There is such a thing as being TOO straitlaced, though...
Yes, that is Prince Jing's major flaw
And Su knows that and doesn't try and force his hand. Another reason to love Su. I trust Prince Jing though, stubborn as he is. If there's anyone who can help Prince Jing become the righteous ruler Da Liang needs, it's Su. 

It seems like Prince Jing has never considered the throne for a second. He has been busy fighting wars and he knows his place: low rank, no influence, don't even try. But Su can be very convincing. In offering his considerable talents, he is able to make the Fighter Prince pause and think about this. Maybe the throne isn't such a bad idea after all?
Do it, Jing!  Do it!
Prince Jing and Su for the win!!!