Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 20 (Recap)

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?! In fact ... WE ARE! Here comes the much awaited and much dreaded birthday party that changes everything. Mei Changsu gambles very high ... but can he actually control what he has set in motion?
JoAnne: Kakashi, you've accidentally included the picture where Grand Princess Liyang explains to Jingrui how babies are made.
Eleanor: I am so distracted by the filter they used to get that shade of lipstick on Jingrui o.O it's like cerise pink!

Episode 20

Birthday bash preparations! Jingrui is dressed very fine (Xie Bi suggests it may be too fine) in a blue garment with gold thread made by his pugilist mom. When Miss Gong is announced (Yujin escorted her to the mansion), Jingrui welcomes her warmly. Yujin less so, haha. You cute bickerers... Other guests start arriving too, like Meng and Xiadong. Finally, Su Zhe is announced. He smiles and bows, all politeness ... Xie Yu eyes him warily. Yeah, you better. Something's in the air.
Awkward. Usually once you've tried to kill someone you can count on friends inviting you to separate events...
Su Zhe, he's all polite, but that smile, man, you can tell he's up to something big. 
It is dark now and the festivities are about to begin. Yujin checks all of Jingrui's presents, particularly taking notice of Su Zhe's exquisite gift - it's ten tremendously valuable "heart-protecting" pills. Yujin complains that Su Zhe is too biased - where is his gift?! (his birthday is in quite a while, actually). He also calls Xiadong's gift stingy, but she takes it with humor.
Okay, Yujin, settle down. You aren't six.
I think Yujin totally didn't get the memo on that one Jo. Also, when a friend is giving you heart-protecting pills, is he trying to tell you that you're about to need them? 
Their friendly interaction is interrupted by Xie Yu (he looks like a shark when he smiles), who asks all the guests to sit. Well, these "parties" were a bit stiff and formal back then, because they all sit facing each other and far apart (I'm sure the way they sit is in accordance to status or age or something, am I right?). Xie Yu offers a few toasts and then, he suggests they should feel "at home". Mei Changsu looks ... bored. Smug. Smug-bored. Smored.
Better than bugged, which would also have been an option. Sort of. In a weird way, I find Airplane Wang Xie Yu kinda sexy and hot. I'm just saying I wouldn't kick him out of bed for leaving cracker crumbs.
You are not alone in this. Issy swoons about him too.
S'mored? All I could think about was campfires and S'mores and chocolate. That would be a fun party with this crew. Xie Yu is handsome, but I find him too evil in this to swoon much. 
Ha, Xiadong says, if this is like home, nobody will mind if she is a bit rude - like she normally is at home, right? In that case, she wants to fight Zhuo Dingfeng, whose impressive skills she has always admired! And she attacks ... with chopsticks!
Okay there's rude and then there's RUDE. Girl, sit yo' ass down.
That was kind of intense. Remind me to keep the chopsticks away from her if I invite her over for dinner ever. 
The fight clearly has one purpose only ... she wants to experience his fighting style up close to identify him as the killer of the eunuch. However, the Elder Zhuo is a smart man (and it seems Xie Yu has instructed him well), so he does not show his style. Mei Changsu is thinking... "can we get on with this?!"
That old 'I challenge you to a spontaneous duel' trick is soooo yesterday.
LOL There are so many layers and levels of investigation and allegiance here. At least Su doesn't look worried that Xia Dong is doing a little investigative work here. I bet he planted a bee in her bonnet to make sure she was invited along as well. 
Time for some music! Miss Gong Yu plays ... oh so beautifully. It's a sad song, so moving that the Grand Princess Liyang starts crying. Does she have a special connection to this song or is she just feeling melancholic?
I bet you Nihuang's headpiece it's a specific choice.
Knowing Gong Yu works for Su, I bet the piece has meaning and memory. I really do feel sorry for the Grand Princess Liyang. There is much sorrow in her past. Then again that's like half the people around the table. 
But wait ... where is Fei Liu?! Outside! Flying silently across rooftops. Also outside (the mansion): the people from Southern Chu, plus the old swordsman who is out to challenge Zuo Dingfeng. "Go know", the old man tells the young princess... and so, it starts.
It just dawned on me that Mei Chang Su worked this out with Southern Chu. I thought this was an extra thing but nope, right?
He received a letter from his friend Lin Chen a few episodes ago (the pidgeon one), informing him about the successful setting in motion of this plot
I know that Mei Chang Su is the great plotter here setting everything in motion and we are amazed, but can we for one minute think about the writer here. She has done an amazing job with this intricately plotted story. It's like a fine watch with perfectly aligned cogs and wheels each turning and interlocking with the next to tell a story with meticulous precision. I love it. 
The swordmaster, Yue Xiuze, appears in front of the guests, calling out the Elder Zhuo for the duel he was promised. Xie Yu is very angry at the unwanted disturbance. However, Yue is no longer a Minister (at least not for half a year), so that he can wander around and challenge people, as the sassy Prince Ling tells everybody. Well, Yue Xiuze appeals to Zhuo Dingfeng's honor and he really cannot refuse this: Pugilist rules. Xie Yu is VERY displeased - but Zhou assures him that he "can handle it".
Ahhh, the famous last words of fools throughout the centuries. And Xie Yu is definitely sexy.
Look at that beautiful screenshot *sigh* so much pretty. Wait, what were we talking about, ah yes, a challenge. I think that Mei Chang Su must know everyone because he can sure call in favours everywhere. He's just so impressive.
Meanwhile, Fei Liu is no longer outside ... but inside. Inside the armory! What is he doing? I think I know... knife ... bow strings....
I love his face. And his weird ear hair doesn't bother me so much. It's really just Mei Chang Su's for some reason. (heh. ear hair. I wanted to call it ear brows, but the real word is side burn. I just couldn't remember it, and ear brow was definitely wrong...although I think it's the best description ever.)
He is so cute! He looks adorable but he's deadly. I like the juxtaposition. 
Elsewhere in the Xie-Mansion, the clash of the swords is underway! But what is this? Zhuo frequently looks over to Xie Yu. It seems he is not really using his full strength and skills! He does one move, though, that almost gives him away... but then, he lets himself be cut. The fight is over! Zhuo managed to protect his secrets.
I hope the Zhuos make it out alive.
Me too. I like them. They've made some bad decisions, but yeah, I like them. 
But not so quickly ... the most annoying of all Princes (haha, he is so annoying that it is actually amusing), Ling, says there is something else. Oh ... and there is Prince Yu, getting some guards ready! NICE armor, Yu!
Also sexy. Guys, I think I must be super hormonal right now. It's close to a full moon, too.
I don't think you need to be hormonal to find Yu in armour sexy. The men in armour in this drama *swoon* - every time. 
Back at the Marquis' mansion, Mei Changsu suggests that Zhuo Dingfeng should eat one of his heart pills now. Uh-oh. Yujin and Jingrui comply immediately ... good boys. Prince Ling waits politely and then turns to his cousin. "Aren't you here for him?", he says ... and with that, the Princess from Nan Chu walks towards Jingrui as she unfastens her veil. "Ge Ge", she says, "I am Nian Nian". Behind them, Grand Princess Liyang slowly rises, clutching her breast. "Father misses you a lot", says the Princess, "will you come to Nan Chun with me?". Jingrui is clearly VERY confused, but she grabs his shoulders and says "Ge Ge, you are my brother!". DAMN. Now it's out.
Seriously, what a fucked up way to deliver the news. Our seal looks like he just saw a club.
Way to seriously ruin Jingrui's birthday party. He needs a hug. Look at that face T___T
The Grand Princess collapses. Prince Ling grabs his cousin by the hand and drags her into the house, towards the Grand Princess. Everybody follows but Xie Yu who is dumbstruck (wow, did this show just manage to make me feel sorry for this scumbag?!). Prince Ling's uncle, the king, is Grand Princess' Liyang's former lover. Even though he was made to leave Jinling, he never forgot about the baby she carried back then, and he never forgot about her.
You get a broken heart! And you get a broken heart! And you, and you, and you! You alllll get broken hearts! Way to go, Changsu. Really don't forgive you for this. The ends do not justify the means. Two wrongs don't make a right. Way to go, FRIEND.
Was there any other way forward? I guess he could have had things revealed slowly, in private, but then it might never have come to light...I don't like what he did, and I don't think he does either, but I think it's very much a case of the "sins of the fathers resting on the heads of the children" to use a Biblical phrase. If it could have been executed in a less hurtful way, but still to the greatest effect, then maybe I could dislike Mei Chang Su more for doing this. 
Princess Yuwen Nian bows deeply in front of the Grand Princess and asks for permission to take her brother with her to Nan Chun. Jingrui sinks to his knees when the truth hits him. He seems to have trouble breathing. Wow. So many hearts broken at once. Mei Changsu, I don't think we can be friends.
He's not getting a Christmas card from me, that is for damn sure.
I don't think he wants people to write him one either. He knows what he's done. 
But this is not all. Mei Changsu glances over at Miss Gong Yu ... who begins to laugh, like a madwoman. Every head turns in her direction and she says: "Now I understand that the murder of my family at the time is because of this". Say what?! DAMN, of course she has a role to play in this as well!
I must say, this particular little piece was unexpected. All of it. Oh and by the way, fuck you, Mei Changsu. NOT FORGIVEN.
Seeing as no one else seems to want to defend Mei Chang Su, even a little, may I say, he's not the person who did all of this. He is revealing the cancerous, rotten deeds that Xie Yu and his pals all did. Do we curse out the surgeon for removing the tumour? I don't like that to do so he's had to hurt everyone, but let's just remember that it's not him who did all the murdering, or raping, or having illegitimate children and then never telling them (though I get why she didn't). Also, Mei Chang Su is not deriving pleasure from hurting people. Knowing that he was going to do this at the party has been eating away at him for weeks now. If anything, I feel somewhat sorry for him that he has to have made the decision to go forward with taking down Xie Yu all the while knowing that he's going to hurt so many people. Xie Yu needs to be taken down. Pronto. And someone has to do it.  
"Marquis", she says. And she (and everyone) turns towards Xie Yu.
DAMN. I already feel bad for this guy, and he's a terrible person. The actor... he played this like a champion. I was in awe.
And I cannot for one minute feel sorry for him at all. All the evil he has ever done is going to come back at him. Karma. It will get you. 
Take a moment and clap for this gif.  It's perfection.
Prince Yu gets report that nothing is moving at the Mansion and nobody has come out. But time is almost up, Prince Yu says - they will head there in any case, and hide outside in the alley.
This is the part I was like... okay, how's he going to be involved? I was dying to know.
Yeah, me too. 

Miss Gong Yu walks towards Xie Yu, slowly. She could not understand until today why he wanted her father dead. It was because her father did not complete his job. And that job was to kill Princess Liyang's child. OMG. But ... he killed the family Zhuo's son instead. OMFG!
What Jo said. 
Xie Yu attacks! But Miss Gong is no easy target. He slashes at the young musician until Zhuo's wife intervenes and disarms him. She wants to hear this! Who killed her son?! Miss Gong Yu continues to say that the Grand Princess knew what her husband was up to, but Xie Yu has heard enough - he screams for his guards and orders them to kill "the witch" (for spreading fallacies). But at his father's command, Zhuo Qingyao gets ready to defend her. His wife (Xie Yu's daughter) starts sobbing.
Am I alone in feeling for a few moments that Liyang was even worse than Yu? SHE KNEW. She knew AHEAD OF TIME.
No Christmas Card for her either >.< 
Yes, she knew and yet she did nothing. Well, did she know all the details? Ack. This family is so screwed up. How did Jingrui turn out so awesome with this crowd as his parents? 
Now Zhuo Dingfeng speaks up and calls Xie Yu unreasonable. Xiadong steps forward, too, to remind Xie Yu that Commander Meng and herself are here to witnesses everything. Now, Mei Changsu says something too: Of course Xie Yu knows that it is not a smart choice to kill in front of them, but what other options does he have? It is destined that the two families will have a falling out tonight.
STFU, Mei Changsu. You've done enough.
Well someone had to say it. 

Additional soldiers run into the armory to get their bows - Prince Yu observes them from the alley. Finally, things are moving, he says. Haha, look how pleased he is.
Seriously, dude, why are you here.
Because Prince Yu wants his fingers in any pie that will get him closer to the throne. 
The situation in the yard now looks like this:
Excellent perspective.
I'm really glad we weren't invited to this party. 
Meng warns Xie Yu not to spill blood tonight - he and Xiadong won't stand around idle. Xie Yu promises him that nothing will happen to him and Xiadong. And he is ready to plead his case in front of the Emperor if must be - he seems  quite certain whom the Emperor will believe. Meng whispers to Mei Changsu that their situation is bad - the Marquis has 800 soldiers, and when the bowmen come and will start shooting at them, he can only protect Mei Changsu et al, not the Zhuos.
This escalated quickly.

Xie Yu tells his wife not to get involved, he won't harm Jingrui. If he really wanted to harm him, he would certainly have killed him by now. He wants to hear where Prince Ling stands (he won't interfere) ... and then, his eyes come to rest on Su Zhe.
Don't worry, honey. I've had twenty years to kill our son, so trust me:  if it was gonna happen, it would've happened by now. I lost interest in that whole 'smite the fruit of another's loins' business yeaaaaaaaars ago.
Ugh. I guess that his love (?) obsession (?) the thing he has for his wife was enough to protect Jingrui's life, well and make sure that the Zhuo's remain loyal to him by pretending to share Jingrui. I'm pretty sure it was that tie that saved Jingrui more than anything. Xie Yu would kill his own bloodline to get what he wants I'm sure. 
"Have you finally remembered me?" Mei Changsu asks. So it seems Xie Yu seeks to use this opportunity to get rid of him too? Think again. Where is Fei Liu? Meng says then... and yes indeed, where is Fei Liu? Just then, a soldier comes running ... all the bowstrings have been cut! "Fei Liu!", Mei Changsu yells, "was it fun?" - "It was", comes the answer, and Fei Liu saunters in.
I thought that this was Mei Changsu's big reveal when he said that, but he just meant the fact that he was there that evening, also. I think.
Hee hee, I love Fei Liu. 

Xie Yu scoffs at that. Did Mei Changsu think that would stop him from keeping them all here? He is underestimating his power! Mei Changsu smiles and says that may be, but there is a reason for everything in the world. And tonight, it is retribution for the Marquis' actions. The Marquis is unimpressed. But then, Mei Changsu mentions Prince Yu and his soldiers the doors. If he does not see Mei Changsu leave and hears fighting, he "may not be able to resist storming in here" to rescue him.
Seriously, Yu. You're looking real good tonight.
This is one giant, huge, game of playing chicken. Or chess. Xie Yu is a formidable opponent, so we can't be 100% sure that Mei Chang Su will have been able to stay one step ahead. It's what makes this so intense. Ack! 
Does Mei Changsu really believe the Prince would storm a first rank Marquis' household for a mere strategist? No, Mei Changsu answers, of course not. But he will do it if it means kicking the Marquis out of the court.
OOP. Gotcha there.
Let's hope so. Let's really hope so. This party is stressing me out. 


*slow clap* excellent episode. Slow, but steady build up of tension, twist and turns, to finally 'end' with the two main antagonists facing each other. It is the first time in twenty episodes that Mei Changsu directly gets involved, is physically present at one of the scenes of his orchestration. And damn ... this is an extremely dangerous situation! He has now put himself in the Marquis' sight, even revealed himself as master mind behind this all (at least for those who care to pay attention). Sure, there won't be any bowmen right now, but our guy is damn cocky if he does not see that to risk to his life is very high right now! The Marquis is a formidable enemy.
You know what, the way I feel, he should at least be leaving there with a sliced tendon or something. Make him walk all gimpy for the rest of his life so that every step he takes in pain reminds him of the families he destroyed tonight. The friend he shattered.
He didn't destroy. Xie Yu did. All he did was reveal what was already there. Mei Chang Su did not do any of the things that destroyed the families and his friends. Yes, we can be angry with him with how he chose to reveal it all at once, and so publicly, but we cannot for a single second hold him responsible for the truths that created the destruction. If we are going to hold him accountable for the deeds that Xie Yu did, then that seems rather vindictive of us. Yes, it's terrible that Jingrui was hurt and his cousin helped reveal his past, but it is his parents and Xie Yu who made the mess, not Su Zhe, not Lin Shu.

That Jingrui was an exiled prince's son was known (at least to us, even if not to most of the characters). However, that Miss Gong Yu's own past is intricately interwoven with Xie Yu was quite a shock! Also, that it was Xie Yu that ordered the baby killed, but got the wrong one. Poor, poor Jingrui... not only did he have to find out that he is not at all the child of one of his two fathers, but also that he lived whereas the Zhuo boy died. Just so sad.
I didn't know that he was Son of Chu, but probably because I didn't think about it for a minute. You and Eleanor spend wayyyy more effort thinking about this drama than I do, though. The whole thing is pretty sad though, you're right about that.
Oh, I thought we mentioned it before! Plus it was mentioned in his character descriptions somewhere... Now I'm unsure. .... Okay, I did, in episode 18! But since you didn't know, you thought I was referring to something else. Hehe.
Jingrui's whole story is just tragic. I can't remember if I knew before this episode when watching it the first time, but I knew what you were referring to in 18. It gets confusing sometimes. Haha. Gong Yu's personal involvement was also a shock to me, but it also makes more sense why Su Zhe has allowed her to stay around when she was in love with him. Let's just hope that most people survive this party, or at least everyone that we love.