Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 17 (Recap)

It's possible to kinda feel ... something for Prince Yu, right up to this episode. In this, however, he is revealed as absolutely ruthless scumbag. No more cookies for you, Yu! But it seems that slowly, slowly, Prince Jing's time to shine has come.
JoAnne: Would it hurt the guy to smile?
Eleanor: Jo, he doesn't yet have me in his life, of course he can't smile. Plus, this way we can see his magnificent jawline so well. 
Why would he smile in this situation though!!! Ah: "Prince Jing, look this way! Yes! Thank you, now smile for the camera!"

Episode 17

Su Zhe advises the Prince to go on the offensive now. After he has left and Prince Yu wants to go talk to his guys at the Ministry of Justice, to decide how to best help Minister Shen, when Banruo suggests something "far better". Go bigger and badder, she says, make the factory a big issue before they can close it. Ack, woman... 
Somehow, I just don't think... hmmm. Yu, can you not sense that this woman is not really thinking of your best interests?
Right? I think he is too full of himself to notice it though.
This is NOT going to end well. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the biggest idiot of them all? 
Zhuo Qingyao is still unconscious ... but the family lies to Jingrui and claims he is just sick. Do they think he's stupid, the whole room smells like blood! Jingrui shouts. His sister finally caves in and admits with a nod that yes, her husband went out at their father's behest that night. Jingrui is outraged and runs to Xie Yu. I'm sure that's not a good idea.
What if Xie Yu decides there's a 50-50 chance Jingrui isn't his, and cuts his losses?
I think that even if Jingrui is Xie Yu's blood son, I wouldn't put it past him to still cut his losses. 
Evil Daddy is reading ... and very displeased that Jingrui just barges in. Jingrui wants to be a good filial son, but he cannot keep quiet any longer! He voices his shock over his father's methods - and SLAM, Xie Yu hits him in the face, full force. He who just prances about in the pugilist world has no clue about politics, he screams at his son. He, as a Marquis General, has no choice but to join the fight of the Princes. And what is more, he needs to be on the side of the future Emperor, or both the Xie and the Zhuo family will face hard times! Jingrui is kicked out and Xie Yu tells the Elder Zhuo to keep all their doings from Jingrui in the future.
I mean, what he says is reality... but, still.
His brutality. He is like a deadly viper, ready to strike with complete and utter viciousness. I think he's willing to create whatever "truth" he needs to justify his actions. 
Sure, there is truth... but isn't the rub that he is ACTIVELY making one of the contenders the future Emperor? That's simply meddling. And given how incompetent the Crown Prince is, it is also purely selfish
He'd never go for Yu because he might not be able to control him.
Excellent point. 
But all of a sudden, an explosion rocks the Capital. Don't tell me ..... you frigging IDIOT! Yes, Prince Yu is to blame, he ordered the explosion and spends 3 seconds being sad about the lives this may have cost. But in his head, the end justifies the means, and the end is damaging his brother as much as possible.
You massive fuck, you.
Ugh. I have no words. Utterly depraved. 
In a a nice contrast, Mei Changsu is completely shocked when he hears about the number of dead, injured, the damage to the houses nearby, and the fire that could have cause massive damage. He is pleased to hear though that Prince Jing went there with his soldiers to help and that he sent some tents and blankets from the army stores.
Because Jing is a human being.
I LOVE that Prince Jing just goes there immediately. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty (in a good way) by serving the people. A truly good leader this Prince Jing. 

Also not pleased about the news: The Crown Prince. He wants to seal the area off to cover up his crime, but is informed that it's too late: the magistrate is already there as are Prince Jing's people. He rushes away, to his mommy. Now at the site, Mei Changsu, looking grave. Nihuang also arrives, with supplies. Prince Jing steps out of the ruins, just as saddened by this calamity as Mei Changsu. May I add that he looks SPLENDID.
That armor is WORKING for me.
This is easily my most favourite Jing scene of all time. And it was I think at this moment where I fell completely in love. I remember tweeting about it. *sigh* 
He seems to believe it was an accident, but Mei Changsu convinces him otherwise. This was just an embezzlement case until the explosion. Now, it's much more - the punishment for the Eastern Palace will be much more severe this way. All that Yu ever wanted. 
That, right there? That's about the best Su Zhe has looked since the start.
I'm still completely distracted by Jingyan, but yes, Su does look good. 
Prince Jing is extremely disgusted by the thought .... and then asks whether Su had anything to do with it, seeing how he is Prince Yu's adviser? Wow, Jingyan. You would think that, wouldn't you! Nihuang jumps to Su's defense immediately and ferociously at that; Prince Jing gets quite the lecture. Mei Changsu just stands there, deeply hurt at first, then trying to cover up for Nihuang's emotional outbreak, more and more embarrassed. Jing just stands there and looks at her strangely. Just shut up, Nihuang!! The Prince finally apologizes, but it's all a little awkward after that.
That is some messed up shit you just pulled, Jing.
Oh Jingyan. Just trust Su already! Oh Nihuang. I love her. I know this kind of doesn't help Su's cover, but I ADORE her loyalty. 
In the palace, the Yue snake slaps her stupid son, the Crown Prince, for being so stupid and greedy. Well, he got it from somewhere, doesn't he? She has an idea though: use some of his secret men at the judiciary to impeach him in front of the Emperor immediately. The bigger the crime they want to get  him for the better! Because of the Emperor's suspicious nature and his hate for the fighting between the princes, getting attacked viciously by Yu's men is good for him.
I loathe these two and have been very happy not to have them on my screen. Yue's smart, though. I'll give her credit for that.
She is smart, but not in any sort of way I can admire. These two. Ugh. How come he gets to be the Crown Prince? 
Jingyan's generals approach with a list of things they got from the army stores and suggest they should report it to the Ministry of Defense, as regulations demand. Don't report, Su quickly says. They're all "why?!" and Nihuang says: "Don't ask so much. If he says so then don't report it". Hahaha. After his men have left, Prince Jing wants an explanation, though. First, Su sends Nihuang away to go look after the supplies from Mu palace. Smooth.
Nihuang, don't go potential Gong Yu on us.
Haha. I don't think she will. She's a feisty one though and totally awesome. 
Then he explains: They're not at war and lending a small amount of tents and quilts is no big deal, in fact, it's the humane thing to do. It is however quite likely that the Ministry of Defense, controlled by the Crown Prince, will attempt to impeach Prince Jing because of it. And that is good: Because it will make the Crown Prince look bad. Of course, our ox-like Jing does not understand why they need to do this, so Mei Changsu explains further: it's to make Prince Jing and his quiet actions noticeable.
Just wear that armor all the time, Little Prince. You fine thing, you.
As much as I love Jingyan, his stubbornness must try Su's patience a little. He loves his so much and he knows him so well though, that I think he doesn't mind too much. Oh Jingyan. 
Jingyan is STILL reluctant (chill, boy, seriously!). He is not doing good things for people to see! Mei Changsu has this to teach: "If you do good things for others to see, then it's a problem of your moral character. But if nobody knows of your good deeds, it's a failure of your adviser."
Just go with it, Jing. Unclench a little.
Listen to Su, Jingyan. If you want to help more people, then you need to be emperor like Su wants for you. And man, so much beautiful in that shot. So much. 

Prince Yu, Magistrate Gao, Minister Shen and the Crown Prince have an audience with the Emperor - it seems he wants to deal with this as quietly as possible. Only a servant named Han Li is implicated (signing off on the illegal funds), the Crown Prince's name does not appear. But Shen points out that they way the profit was split (far less for the Minister and more for Han Li, well below in rank) makes it rather unlikely that the Crown Prince did not know.
Clever man, we approve of you.
I really love Minster Shen. 
The Emperor asks Prince Yu what he considers a good punishment for his brother. Yu is very mild and brotherly and is veeery shocked to hear that some of the ministers want the Crown Prince abolished! No, that cannot be!! (Did you listen to Mr. Su at the right time for once?) But all his good words for the Crown Prince are to little avail, Papa is angry and exiles his wayward son temporarily. Well, only to another palace. But they're far apart.
Aw, he looks so sad. Good. 
Repent he does not, though, but seethe with anger and swears revenge - he will kill them all once he is the Emperor. Especially when he hears that Prince Jing managed to look good in front of the Emperor.
I think he always wears muddy colors because he's basically a shit human.

Prince Yu is flooding Su Residence with presents again, this time ornaments for his newly refurbished house. Well, Su sends all of them back, but Prince Yu is still happy about it (because it makes him feel like a good person, I guess). He is very grateful to Su for advising him so well in the Crown Prince case. Banruo makes a few not very subtle comments as to how she would really like to see Mr. Su's place but can't really. Oh, she can come with him for a visit! goes Prince Yu.
Well that should be interesting. I have to admit I enjoy watching Yu be led this way and that by people, while never suspecting a thing.
She is gorgeous. If I were Yu's wife, I would not let those two spend so much time together. 
And then, it's spring and Su has finished renovating and is about to host a gathering at his place. It's not a large one, as Meng, who is already there, realizes; but quite well selected instead, I'd say: Meng, Nihuang and her brother, the Sunshine boys, and Xiadong and Xiachung. Mei Changsu guesses correctly that one uninvited guest will turn up too. He's a little know-it-all, isn't he!
While watching, I assumed he meant the prince - but now, I wonder if he meant Banruo?
Is he part fortuneteller this one? And I do love seeing more Meng Zhi on my screen. 
But actually, it's TWO uninvited guests: Prince Yu and his female strategist. Again it happens, sort of. Su Zhe's "small" renovation is praised to the sky by the eager Royal. Su gives Banruo the side-eye. Haha, he so does not like this woman. Su is the perfect host (of course), serving them lovely dishes and a different wine with each of them (which pleases Yujin in particular). Jingrui on the other hand is totally out of it. Poor boy. Family sucks, right?
It's only going to get worse, Jingrui. Let Yujin distract you for a while.
Jingrui's family could be the plotline for a soap opera. Poor man. 
Just sitting around like this is boring, says Mei Changsu - he has a game for them! He has hidden a very valuable antique music scroll somewhere in his house; he believes it's the long lost score of an ancient piece of music (Guang Ling San). Everybody can go search anywhere they'd like for it. And whoever finds it can keep it! Wow, there's a few people SUUUUPER enthusiastic about that! And a few people going "WTF is he thinking?".
I'd be with them. I mean, obviously, there's stuff he wants people to 'discover' - but I'm not even a super secret strategist to the stars and *I* wouldn't want people just digging in anywhere in my house.
I'm sure he's got all his real secrets hidden away. I LOVE Nihuang and Meng's reactions though. Just trust Su and go with it peeps. 
The young enthusiasts (that would be Yujin and Prince Mu) are all over this (minus Jingrui, who is too melancholic to have any fun) and Xiadong pairs off with Nihuang. Only Prince Yu, Meng (and Banruo) keep sitting around the little tables. Mei Changsu is chatting amiably, telling them that Officer Xiachun (a known music lover!) is known for being an expert at finding hidden mechanisms. Hmmmmmm, what are you playing at, Su?
This busy little gardener, planting seeds...
Mu Qing! He's adorable! I love him. Su plays people so well. It's a pleasure to watch. 
He notices that "Miss Qin" (that's Banruo) looks edgy and he explicitly invites her to join the search. She eagerly leaves. And so they all search his house for hidden compartments (Xiachun is absolutely certain such a valuable script is kept inside to keep it dry). But what is Banruo looking for? The scroll as well? I'm not sure ... but it is her that finds a hidden room behind one of the walls. 
If they find a room, they won't go looking for it later. And possibly uncover a passage.
Exactly! Oh Su, you are so clever!


Mei Changsu hand-picked those people (and knew quite well that Prince Yu would come, potentially with a plus one), so it's clear that all of this is intentional. He invites an ardent music lover who is good at finding hidden compartments? Hahaha, why does nobody ever go: "Hmmmmm, that cannot be a coincidence!" But why does he WANT them to find hidden compartments in his house? We will have to see!
I think it's that 'hide in plain sight' tactic.
I definitely agree with Jo. 

Banruo is really creepy. Prince Yu is morally corrupt to the core, but it is her that seemed almost enthusiastic about giving him advice that would make innocents suffer. That said, I'm getting more and more curious about her! Whom does she truly work for?
Yes, I really want her backstory!
I love that the drama lets us get to know characters slowly, so much so that we get super curious about who they are. It's really lovely and interesting to watch that way. 

Eleanor's Wang Kai looked absolutely splendid in this episode. Those shots in the rubble were hauntingly beautiful, all the grey and then his red, angry colors. And yet, I'm a bit angry with him for so completely misjudging Mei Changsu. Again. Sure, the man indeed seems shady - he also often said that he would "use" people if it is opportune to him. But a mass murderer? It is clear to anybody who has a bit of knowledge of human nature that he is not!! He needs to learn how to read people better stat, our Prince.
Agreed, 100 percent.  I wonder if he expected it, even perhaps counted on it? Jing does need to be a bit more discerning about shades of gray.  He can't treat the world like everything is black or white all the time, and he also needs to understand that good people will do bad things for a good cause, but more importantly, he needs to understand how far is okay and how far is not, and whether people around him can be counted on to understand that as well.
I agree. I really do, BUT I do think though that Prince Jing has had a hard life in the trusting people thing. Pretty much the most important people around him were killed (except for his mother). He has no one to really trust. He's been suffering, an outcast essentially, for thirteen years, with all his attempts at trying to bring justice to the Chiyan Army stopped at every turn. And he has been vocal about it. No one likes him, no one respects him, and yet he has continued to be just and good and to serve his country well, with no expectation of praise or reward. Then suddenly this random stranger shows up and wants to help his ascend the throne. I think it's perfectly natural for him to be suspicious, actually maybe even super suspicious. Any semblance of a happy and carefree Prince Jing was squashed thirteen years ago with the massacre of the Chiyan Army and the execution and betrayal of his beloved mentor and brother, Prince Qi, and his best best friend and cousin, Lin Shu. We know who Su Zhe is, but to Prince Jing, he is a stranger. Jingyan is hurt and angry and frustrated at the injustice around him, and feels powerless to really make any difference. Plus he's a hothead. And well, it's a character trait that makes him human. We can't have a virtuous and upright man be perfect, he has to be human, and his hotheaded stubbornness and unwillingness to bend is also what has kept him doggedly believing that the Chiyan Army massacre was wrong and that Prince Qi was betrayed and wrongly accused. And in that respect, it becomes a strength. It's what keeps him going. 

Mei Changsu's plan to make Prince Jing's good deeds noticeable seems smart. Prince Jing is the type of person who would give his life to protect a complete stranger, without thinking twice. He truly cares nothing about how he looks to other people - but with that attitude, he may as well go back to one of the corners of the Empire. If he wants a shot at the crown, he needs to worm himself into his father's good graces eventually! I wonder if he learns in time, our pretty prince.
I wonder a lot of things about our pretty prince.
I do quite love that pretty prince. 

And finally, Nihuang. Haha, woman, you did show a bit too much concern for the scholar there! Careful. Prince Jing kept watching them and I'm pretty sure he's come to the conclusion that they're in a relationship of sorts ... why else would she be so protective? If he thinks they're lovers, it's not such a huge problem, because the whole Capital seems to be gossiping about that anyway. But Nihuang has to be more careful! Didn't Su warn her to keep his true identity hidden at ALL cost from two people?
Every hero has an Achilles Heel. Most also have a fatal flaw.
Oh Nihuang, don't worry, we understand why you rushed to Su's defense. I just hope it doesn't get Su into too much trouble. Or really any at all would be nice.