Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 15 (Recap)

This is a very clever episode! We learn a lot about many different people, even though most of them do not get a lot of screen time and we experience Su nimbly fixing something that had the potential to blow a thousand holes into his lovely plan. By now, we have come to know our main protagonist quite well. And that is why we also realize that nothing he does is without a purpose, even if it probably means hurting people he cares for.
JoAnne: Oh, I wonder if this is the episode where I didn't like him too much...
Eleanor: Yes, that plan also had potential to blow a thousand holes into some people as well.

Episode 15

Su thinks that the plan is to weaken the Emperor's trust in the Imperial Guard. It's either Yu or the Crown Prince that would profit the most from this, and seeing how Yu has nobody with military power he can trust, it must be the Crown Prince and Xie Yu. Who will "naturally" become the next Commander of the Imperial Guard once Meng has to step down!
I thought that some family wouldn't get their gift and it would start a lot of gossip and hurt feelings...but then I realized that the guards would be discovered dead with the gift, so that didn't work very effectively.
These bad guys, the gifts that keep on giving...Su headaches. 
The Emperor wouldn't let go of Meng that easily, though. But if the incident gets linked to the fight for the crown, that might change. Mei Changsu is quite alarmed once he arrives at that conclusion and rushes out, to go see Yu. Poor Nihuang. So little time together.
If they spend a lot of time together they'll start wanting things they can't's for the best.
I think they already want what they can't have. That shipped sailed a long time ago. Mu Qing still totally ships that ship. (There is a really great comment in the last recap from A in the comments section about how Nihuang greets Su - go read it peeps!)
As expected by Xie Yu, the Emperor also tasks the Xuanjing Bureau with investigating the murder case. With lovely but fierce Xiadong is a new character, Xiachun (Liu Guan Lin), a male colleague of hers. Him giving Meng the task? Just a facade. It means they can investigate more covertly. And no pressure: but it's all up to them. Luckily (for them), they're both really smart cookies. Immediately, they start questioning the real target of the attack and the motif.
I liked that guy. He did seem smart, and like a good person. But I was suspicious a little because we very rarely get two good, smart people in a group.
Sneaksy Emperor. But also a good idea to be able to investigate covertly. Also can Xiadong have her own spin-off series? She's so cool!
They examine the corpses and realize that it's a special swordmaster's work they're seeing. Xiachun has quite a bit of knowledge of sword techniques, and he lists a few famous ones he considers a possibility. Among them? One founded by Zhuo Dingfeng. They have no proof for anything yet, though. They decide to look among the "swords" currently in the city.
I'm shipping these two Xia's together by the way. I hope they're not related.
I sort of like her for Meng, though. Or even Yujin. I did think Yujin for a bit. Ancient Chinese Cougar.
You would think if you had a super unique sword technique, that you might want to NOT use it when killing people covertly. Unless you want people to find out that you did it. I would totally ship her with Meng Zhi. Man, what is it about ships today?! 
Banruo on the other hand... is she deliberately misguiding Prince Yu?! She suggests he must try and befriend Commander Meng in this opportune moment. Friggin hell, that was EXACTLY what Mei Changsu feared would happen! He arrives at Yu's late, the Prince is gone, rushed to the palace to ask his father for pity. Mei Changsu pointedly ignores Banruo. When the Prince returns, Mei Changsu gravely lectures him on his rash behavior and how his little trip may have further damaged Meng's standing. The suspicious Emperor will now think that Yu seeks to use Meng in the future, which makes the removal of Meng much more likely.
However, that behavior makes it much more likely that the Crown Prince is behind the plan. Unless Yu was so devious as to create the problem and then propose the cure...except we know that isn't what happened.
Banruo, I think she underestimates Su. She should be wiser. And yes, she does seem like she's up to something sneaksy. I promise I haven't been watching Lord of the Rings lately. 
It's going really well for you, scumbag Xie Yu, isn't it? More lecturing for a rather sorry looking Prince Yu from Mei Changsu, who is SO annoyed. Well, calm and collected as always, but decidedly not happy. If Xie Yu becomes Commander of the Imperial Guards, they have real problem.
No lie. That would be hell on earth.
Perhaps even worse than hell on earth. Looking at Banruo's face, maybe she just didn't think that through. She does look sorry for getting Prince Yu scolded. 
Fei Liu is happily unpacking some wooden figures, when a white messenger pigeon lands. Oh! Fei Liu hates that pigeon! Haha, it's from Lin Chen, that is why. He catches it anyway, but refuses to take it to Mei Changsu, even when Li Gang insists he must. It seems it's not the first time he does not deliver a message!
It's probably 'Remember to take your heart medicine.'
Hahahaha. Oh Fei Liu. Wu Lei does such a great job of playing him! 
Like the Bureau, Mei Changsu has his men investigate swordsmen, but in contrast to them, he knows where to look: at our Marquis the Evil Ning and his buddy Zhuo Dinfeng. They have called for help from the pugilist world too: only a good sword can beat a good sword! And here comes Fei Liu with the bird... better late than never (comment from Su: "At least he's not hiding the pigeon this time")
Poor pigeon.
Way to look on the bright side there Su. 
Lin Chen has done something for Mei Changsu in Southern Chu - and it seems somebody will join them in the Capital later, as Mei Changsu says "before the 12 April". Fei Liu is very unhappy to hear anything about his nemesis, but Mei Changsu is able to cheer him up by saying they will go visit Meng, "the man you can't beat".
It's cute how Fei Lui actually likes my Meng.
Ah! So much cute! I have such a huge smile on my face from all the cute. It's so cute how fighting everyone else is so boring for Fei Liu, but Meng is actually fun to fight. Haha. Oh Fei Liu. 
Into Meng's bedroom he storms, the little one, and orders him to get up and fight with him! Awww, but poor Meng can still barely move... not to be taken lightly, such a flogging. Mei Changsu is quite relieved to see him "looking so well", though; but Meng says how annoyed he is he has no clue in the case he was given. Su tells him to just forget about the case altogether - he can't solve it anyway. Awww, Meng ... we love you for your other qualities.
Mmmm, yes.  I'm dying over the hair scrunchy, though.
Yes, Meng Zhi, don't worry that pretty little head of yours about solving this case. Trust Su and rest well so Fei Liu can fight you again soon. 
Meng is not offended, he knows his strength! Plus, he has his friend, Mei Changsu for all the things brainy. But Su tells him that he will not solve the case for him either... This is what he wants the Commander to do after the 30 days are up: Go to the Emperor, apologize and tell him to demote him. Su explains to Meng that knowing who did it does not help them at all - they need to be careful not to lose any more of the Emperor's trust. And for the rest... the one who holds the most power in the pugilist world is still Mei Changsu. Bring it on, Xie Yu.
The real battle is heating up!
I really do think that Xie Yu keeps on forgetting that Su is Mei Chang Su - head of the most powerful pugilist alliance at the moment. But hey, as long as they keep on underestimating him, Su has the upper hand. And all while looking amazing. 
Prince Yu is asking his mother, the Empress, for help - he needs eyes in the palace, to make sure Xie Yu has no chance to further destabilize the Emperor's trust in Meng and his Guards.
Dude, your mom is a liability.
Yeah, I second that. 
Nihuang is over at Su's, reporting to him about the Xuanjing Bureau's involvement (briefly showing concern over how cold his hands are ... ) - knowing Xie Yu, he most certainly made absolutely sure there is no evidence. Nihuang suggest fighting Zhuo Dingfeng (No 4 on the list) to expose his technique, but who could do it? Xiadong is not good enough and Meng is in bed - and what if he simply refuses to show his moves? Su asks. Nihuang calls this an unsolvable case, and Su smiles: yup, and that is why he is not helping Meng. Imagine if the dumb general solved it but the Xuanjing Bureau could not! The Emperor would be terrified.
Oh wow, yeah. I hadn't considered that.
So because you don't need to worry about the case, why don't you two just cuddle already. I know, I know, mumble mumble, period drama, star-crossed lovers, mumble mumble.  
It is night, and by chance after visiting his mother, Jingrui sees Pretty Zhuo return from somewhere. Doooodgy. At the same time, there's a fire alarm in the palace! But the Imperial Guard is on top of things this time and executes the eunuch who lit the fire. Poor Empress (headpiece-less!) gets a dress-down from the Emperor for not keeping the Inner Palace in order, while the Snake (yes, that's Noble Consort Yue) hangs onto his arm.
God, I can't even stand to look her sneaky snake face.
Well, they executed him quickly. Convenient that. Can't question him. 
The Empress orders much tighter security on all comings and goings at the Inner Palace after that. And it does not take long and she finds quite a few servants that try to poison food or attempt to start fires. The Empress orders death by flogging for all. Ouch.
So all this stuff was going on all along and they just never noticed? Hahahhaahah!
Haha yeah. Seriously. What is this kingdom doing? Oh right, it's filled with corruption and lacking virtue. 

Tong Lu is leaving Su's residence with an empty basket when he runs into Gong Yu on the street. She has come in the hopes of being able to wish Mei Changsu a happy new year (even though he told her never to come see him without explicit orders to do so). But the man is sleeping (doctor's orders!) and she can't wait until the afternoon, so she leaves again. She needs a restraining order, this one.
Seriously. She worries me.
Yeah. Let's not giveaway Su there Gong Yu. There's a reason he's asked you to stay away. 
Jingrui is offering his arm for the highly pregnant wife of Pretty Zhuo (this would be Jingrui's "sister") and gently probes her to find out what Zhuo Qingyao is up to these days. Well, Pretty Zhuo is clearly lying, because he told his wife he would play chess with his father that night when he clearly went somewhere outside (and then got caught returning by Jingrui).
Awww, but in other ways Pretty Zhuo seems to be a loving and devoted husband, this makes me even sadder that he's in cahoots with the devil.
He really fell in with the wrong crowd that Pretty Zhuo. Horrid Xie Yu. 

That day, Xie Yu gives the order to get rid of all the evidence Minister of State Revenue Shen Zhui has compiled against that murderous Minister, and, if necessary, kill Shen too. Awww, Pretty Zhuo shows some moral integrity when he insists that the Minister seems kind and upright! (Xie Yu says that's all a show) At the same time, Yujin suggests going to a particular street - Jingrui is appalled, brothel again? Mei Changsu won't go, but he tells Yujin to take Fei Liu with him. I'm not sure that's a good idea, Su :(( They're in a good mood, all of them, making word games with Fei Liu's name.
I like this little moments of brightness. I'm glad that even while Mei Chang Su appears to be living solely for a a revenge that will come some day in the future, perhaps - we get these reminders that his life isn't horrible now. Not entirely.
I'm really amazed at how this drama and also Disguiser, manages to show such lovely touches of lightness and humour amid all the hard and sad things. Though also knowing this drama, maybe somehow Su nudged them towards thinking of that street anyway. He always has a plan that Mei Chang Su. 
Turns out Yujin didn't even want to go to a brothel, but go to listen to music! At Miaoyin House ... where our little stalker lives, right? They agree to meet soon and go there together. Su then asks to see how much Jingrui's martial arts has improved (I know what you're doing, Su!) - and we get treated to another funky fight scene. Fei Liu likes it too! NOT. Cause Jingrui is very good.
It makes you look at the Worried Seal a bit differently.
He is soooo good with that sword. Hotteness. 
Yup, so we have confirmation of why Su had Jingrui exercise in front of him: Jingrui was trained by his 2nd father in the Tianquan sword technique (and he just showed the moves to our strategist). He also gets confirmation that Pretty Zhuo is an even better swordsman. He also gets info on how long the Zhuo family will stay in the Capital ... and that there's a big event in mid-April. Jingrui's birthday! Su, we know that you KNOW THAT, don't act so surprised - you just told your friend Lin Chen to get here before that date.
This does not bode well for our sweet Jingrui.
Oh Mei Chang Su. Let's just dwell on this happy moment here and not worry about the future. 
They go inside to eat some desserts and even though Jingrui is quite embarrassed about it, Mei Changsu keeps talking about his birthday (Yujin: "his birthday parties are massive!"). Jingrui shyly invites Su (yeah, well, if your father tries to kill a man, it's a bit awkward if you then invite him to a party) and Mei Changsu promises to come. Awww, Jingrui... he is so happy about this.
Don't put them at the same table, though.
Ah! This is so cute and sweet! Drama! Why do you make me love you so!
Minister Shen visits Prince Jing (these two clearly like each other), to report on the illegal factory investigation, which is going well! Prince Jing is quite concerned for this man's safety, though... and he sends some of his own men with him when he leaves. Good idea, cause lurker!!! Pretty Zhuo is eyeing the Minister and his entourage.
No, Zhuo! No!
Yay! More awesome people for Team Jingyan. Su really has done well to assemble people who get along well with Prince Jing. Surely that should make Jingyan just a teensy bit more suspicious that Su knows how well to choose people to work well with Jingyan. 
Su's men have identified all the swords that are in contact with Zhuo Dingfeng and in the city. But no more following them from now on - challenge them, says Mei Changsu, like it's custom in the pugilist world. The aim: the keep them in bed for a while.
Fight scenes coming! Yes!
Keep them in bed for a while. Ha! Don't mess with Mei Chang Su! 


I love all the Sunshine Boy scenes - those two have the cutest bickering and teasing going, so full of warmth and friendship! I also love their interactions with Su, how they look up to him, even though he is barely older than them, how Yujin always tries to take people's minds off grave things by suggesting some fun and how Jingrui is constantly chastizing his friend.
Jingrui is very much the older brother to Yujin, who just wants people to be happy.
They are just so lovely. They really are the Sunshine Boys. 

And what does Su do? Use them TT__________TT. For a reason we do not yet know, he wants or needs to be present at that party, and of course he got an invite. Earlier, he checked Jingrui's swordsmanship not because he was truly interested in it, but because he needed intel on the style. Is every word of his part of his plan? (probably not when he is with Nihuang)
I feel very bad that he befriended these boys simply for this reason. He probably genuinely likes them, but that's just a side effect.
It could also be both. That he genuinely thinks of them as friends. That he likes them, but that he will use them to further a cause greater than himself. Su is carrying the weight of 70,000 people and their families on his shoulders. I don't like that he's got plans to use them necessarily, but he is trying to essentially resolve a holocaust. 

We also got more info on a bunch of other characters...
Banruo: What's her game?! That was a really stupid move. Loved how Mei Changsu punished her by treating her like air. Childish, but deserved.
Yep. She's suspicious. I have actually wondered if she and Su know each other already.
She keeps on majorly underestimating him, so I think she just senses he's her enemy.
Fei Liu: Ahahahahaaaaaaa, he hates Lin Chen so much ... And it seems that he thinks he can no longer beat Jingrui now?
I liked that little bit of him on the roof mimicking the sword moves.
Fei Liu is like a cute, fuzzy, fluffy, fierce tiger. I love him. 
Meng: Handsome but a bit dumb. So cute.
Not dumb. Not strategic.
Very lovable and loyal.
Nihuang: She is very smart.
She was Lin Shu's equal.
I think still his equal, just out of bounds.
Gong Yu: She is crazy.
Getting more worried about her messing something up for Su by the minute.
Pretty Zhuo: He is not a thoroughly bad person. Somebody save him before it's too late!!!
Please! He has a baby coming!
Yes! Please save him!