Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 5 (Recap)

Time to kick some bear's ass ... and time to worry about Nihuang! Mei Changsu makes a (small) mistake with potentially large consequences and once again, we are reminded about how precarious this whole situation is.
The pressure! It can't be good for his health.
This health might not be so good, but the man still looks so fiiiiiinnnneeee!!! Also, his lips match the carpet with that filter. 

Episode 5

Ohhh, it's almost time for kicking Bear Man's ass! (does Mei Changsu really say "You do not have to be afraid when you see that fat guy later" to the three boys in front of the palace? :D) Jing Yan, Nihuang and Mu Qing approach (Mr. Su is very happy to see them and to feel their energetic warrior vibes, so different than all the lazy nobles), everybody is eager to see the fight! Currently with the emperor, Yu and Crown Prince argue about what to do if the fat guy loses - cause that will most likely mean there will not be any suitors willing to fight Nihuang, ergo Nihuang will again not get married. Tsts, can't have that! They haggle over their two candidates but their father is quite sick of their constant bickering and cuts them off.
These are the most revoltingly babyish men I have seen in ages.
I totally love it that the Emperor basically tells them to shut up. Love it! 
Inside, Mei Changsu takes the opportunity to warn Nihuang about that poison wine that somebody might want to use on her. He particularly warns her about the women in the court and tells her to be careful of any food and drink offered to her. He also mentions that she must be extra careful, seeing how she never takes a maid with her ... which puzzles her, cause how does he know that?
I can hear Sting singing faintly in the background... anyone else? No? Just me?
Hahahahahahaha. Now I do! Su, you kinda just gave yourself away a bit there. Don't blame you, Nihuang is awesome. I approve of this couple. 
The sparring begins! Nihuang lets Su know that those kids will never be able to win (noooooo) and asks him to please use that other thing he hopefully has up his sleeve :) He tells her to just watch (he himself isn't really watching. He is much more interested in some kind of cake). Bear Man is like "come on, little vermin" - and then it starts! The kids twirl around, jabbing at him with super speed and from all sides.
I kept thinking about dance scenes in movies from the '40s while this was happening.  
Mmmmmm cake. WANG KAI!!!!!!!!! Oh, martial arts is pretty dang awesome. 
Thank you Kakashi ❤
What a spectacle! Finally, they manage to hit him on the neck... Bear Man down! Bear Man down! It's a win!! Mei Changsu sends the three boys to thank his majesty and they do ... without even getting a reward. Nihuang immediately grasps the situation and petitions the Emperor to give them their freedom instead of material rewards; and allow her to take care of them. Freedom granted! Sly, sly, sly Mr. Su.
So what do you two think? Is he an opportunist who saw a chance to save the boys or did he always plan this situation? Why those boys? (see comment in episode before - this is a special kinda boy) 
He TOTALLY planned it and made sure those boys were chosen. I mean, I think he saw an opportunity present itself and made sure that the boys could be saved i.e. integrated it into any existing plans he already had. And Meng Zhi would do anything Su says. I don't think he mentioned anything to Nihuang, but she's quick on the uptake. 
Once outside, Nihuang tells Mr. Su that she knows that the sword formation the kids used did by itself not guarantee a win. Can he explain? Yes, he can: Bear Man is part of his Jiangzuo Alliance. He had him enter the competition in case there would be any really strong contenders that Nihuang wouldn't like. Awwwwwwwww. 
If I were Nihuang I would be pretty suspicious by now. At what point does Nihuang say, 'Dude, back off!' I mean, she doesn't know him. Why is he doing all this for her? She must be wondering.
Yeah, I would be suspicious too. He keeps on helping her or making sure she's okay. But she's curious because obviously something is up with Su Zhe, much more than he's letting on. 
She has feelz
Oh, but then, a servant girl approaches! She invites Nihuang to dine with the Empress. Nooo, don't go!!!!! Mei Changsu very lightly shakes his head, but Nihuang accepts anyway and follows the servants. I guess she cannot really reject the Empress, can she. Mei Changsu looks quite worried.
The thing about that is, I very rarely think he 'looks' anything. He's mostly expressionless, to me. Or rather, he has one expression: Small dog, worried.
Interesting, I find he has a lot of expressions, but he is super good at being blank faced a lot of the time.
As he walks with his two sunshine friends, his mind is clearly elsewhere ... until he hears that Yujin is about to play polo with the suitor that the Empress has recommended to the Emperor. Something dawns on him... and he gets a bad coughing fit.
You know what, maybe he's not sick at all. Maybe all of this plotting is to hide some OTHER plotting.
I guess the upside of being mortally ill is that you can always fake things to your advantage? 
In the palace, Nihuang is heeding Mr. Su's warning and refuses to eat or drink anything the Empress is offering her. With them is the Imperial Consort Yue, who is gloating that Nihuang won't taste any of the Empress offerings. When the Empress also invites Nihuang for dinner, she comes to her aid and lies that she has already agreed to eat with her. They take their leave.
Back then they didn't have the option of claiming that they were on a cleanse, or only eating Paleo, or had a gluten problem. Tough times, indeed.
I'm guessing the Empress must be rather insulted that Nihuang won't eat anything. Isn't it tantamount to saying: Hey, I don't trust you lady. 
General Meng has joined the worried friends with Mei Changsu. They send them away on health errands so that Su can confide in Meng that he was wrong: it's not the Empress that Nihuang needs to be extra careful of: it's Consort Yue! Oh no!!!! 
We have a fanclub name now. Worried Friends of Mei Changsu. Worried Friends, for short. Well, to be in the original club, you have to show that you live in China and watched this on a Chinese station when it first aired, and then bought the soundtrack and DVD. The international fan club is much easier - you just drool a tiny bit when you say his name, and presto! You're a Worried Bean.
Haha. That reminds me, it is airing in Korea right now which means that perhaps there is a physical album to be purchased here. I must remember to look again. 
At the same time, Nihuang sits down with Consort Yue ... who pretty quickly starts talking of her favorite groom, Sima Lei. Handpicked by the Crown Prince! No pressure at all, of course. But she must support the Crown Prince in future.
This guy just came out of nowhere and now I'll never forget his name.
Nihuang! RUN!!!
Mei Changsu tells General Meng to search out Prince Jing and send him to the Consort's palace - to save the princess! Also, send someone to let the Empress know, seeing how much she hates Consort Yue. Plus undercover troops! To arrest Sima Lei, if he appears there, cause he has no right to enter the palace. Hurry!
Quick like a bunny, Meng! Hop to it!
Hop! Hop! Hop! You can tell that Lin Shu was an excellent military commander and that there is a reason why people listen to him. 
Eloquently apologizing for her pushiness, the Imperial Consort gets Nihuang to drink ... from the poison wine!!! And what a coincidence... the Crown Prince is here with Sima Lei. Nihuang tries to leave, probably realizing that something is wrong, but the drug takes effect and she falls. Sima Lei tries to help her up, but she breaks free, once, twice... and slams Sima Lei across the room.
That. That right there? That was awesome.
Nihuang is one awesome woman! Even drugged she can take someone out. 
Consort Yue screams to grab her, but this is a warrior Princess, she won't be captured that easily!! Elsewhere, the Empress has fetched the Great Grand Dowager. And there is Prince Jing! He beats his way in (he is trespassing!), just in time to catch the falling Nihuang as she exits the palace. But Consort Yue is close behind and shouts to stop him.
So I gather that the plot is to put Nihuang in a compromising situation. Ummm...does anyone think that would work in the long run? Forcing her to marry him? She's Nihuang, lady. She's been on her own for a decade, doing what? Leading ARMIES OF MEN? I'm guessing that ship has sailed, and she gives not one fig what anyone thinks.
I think though that the plan isn't just to be put in a compromising situation, but to rape her like the Grand Princess Liyang was. It's not just about appearances. Once her "honour is sullied", she would have no choice but to marry him. Barbaric. It's why Mei Changsu was so worried. 
Many guards take position, crossbows ready. Not long, and Consort Yue tells her son to give an order to shoot. The BITCH! Crown Prince does tell her it's not appropriate, this is a prince, but the Consort thinks the Emperor doesn't consider him one anyway. Arrows off!! But Jing is able to swat them away like flies. Cause he's cool like that! And before they can re-load he swirls towards his brother and puts his blade against his throat.
Sorry, but he looks like he's about to sing a soulful ballad to his brother in 3,2,1...
Prince Jing!!! Of course he can swat arrows away like flies, he's my Prince Jing ❤
It's a tense moment, but luckily, the Empress Dowager is announced! Consort Yue quickly sends Sima Lei away and then tries to get Prince Jing to pretend nothing has happened, seeing how grave his crimes are. Jing drops the blade and goes over to Nihuang, helping her into an upright position.
Consort Yue tries to bullshit the Empress, saying Nihuang is drunk ... but of course, the Empress does not believe her. And the fleeing Sima Lei is caught and beaten by cute Mu Qing.
That poor guy, like he had any hand in planning this. He was the weakest puppet they could find, is all.
I think I would be more sorry for him if he wasn't planning on raping someone. I'm glad Mu Quing beat him up. 
... and broke his leg. Haha. Awesome comment from Meng about that later.
A very upset Nihuang goes to see the Emperor and asks him for justice, telling him everything that happens. Consort Yue tries to lie (she is quite good at it), but luckily, Prince Jing insists to testify as a witness. That directly endangers him, but he does not care. Such a good man! He tells his father everything he witnessed. That testimony is backed by General Meng, who also appears and tells the Emperor he caught a trespasser: Sima Lei (whose titles are removed and who is sent into exile)! And that horrible woman is still pleading innocent!!! When she sees that that won't get her far, she starts pleading to spare the Crown Prince, who knew nothing. And ladiladila, god, I hate her.
Oh, she's disgusting. And so is her weakling son.
Prince Jing, his integrity is so impressive. I love him. 
The Emperor won't hear another word and despite the desperate pleas of his favorite Consort and the Crown Prince, he punishes her ... but not as harshly as she deserves, cause he is too soft, this old man. Yue is stripped off her Noble Consort title, now only being a Concubine, and has to move to a remote building. As for Prince Jing...
Bye bye, Yue!
Prince Jing ❤


This episode mainly served to show us what kind of upright person The Prince of Jing is - for the good of others, he is willing to put himself in danger and to receive punishment. He seems unable to lie, which most certainly is a lot of trouble to him. It also showed that the Crown Prince and his mother are polar opposites of this prince, whose regal, powerful stance impressed Su in the beginning of the episode. These two are low in every aspect, their mean scheming, their lying, the groveling ... disgusting. And yet, the Emperor shows disdain towards Jing, and favorable towards the low vermin. Pfui, Emperor. And finally, this episode revealed something interesting to Nihuang, if she paid attention... that this Mr. Su seems quite concerned with her well-being. Oh, and a final finally: Even though Mei Changsu briefly miscalculated, he showed us how quick his wits really are by totally saving the day.
You know one of the things I really like about this drama? He puts these ploys into motion, and sometimes you know what the ulterior motive is (or think you do) and sometimes it completely goes by you because it's such a quiet thing. Half the time no one ever mentions what he was really after. You're just left to piece it together, after, or notice something later and think, 'OHhhhh...' It's so subtly done, really a treat. And how far back does it go?
I love that about Mei Changsu's plotting. The writer reveals just enough that you know something is up, and then when the reveal happens and the plan unfolds, you're just so impressed. It also shows that by murdering his father and the Chiyan army, and supposedly also Lin Shu, that the court and kingdom has missed out on having such a brilliant person protecting and helping their country. It also makes it so much easier for us to love Prince Jing because you know that Mei Changsu wouldn't back someone who could be a good leader. I mean, we know that he was BFFs with Jingyan, but he also sees in him potential to be a righteous and good leader.