07 February 2016


Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 24 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on February 07, 2016
Someone dies and someone returns in this episode. Someone goes into exile and someone is pardoned. And who, we wonder, is next on Mei Changsu's list?
JoAnne: The advantage of having watched this a while ago is that I'm sitting here going 'ooooh, who?' and then as I read your always excellent recap and view your always perfect pictures, I get to 'watch' again.
Eleanor: Just looking at your screencap there lets me know that I need to make sure to have some tissues handy. This has some parts I know I cried at while watching the first time. 

Episode 24

Prince Jing's blood is boiling and he wants to act on his new knowledge, redress the injustice done to the Chiyan army, Prince Qi and the Lin family. But Mei Changsu begs him to let it go ... let it rest. It is too dangerous. Jingyan hears what he is saying: But how can he not set this right? For his dearest friend and his brother? And he begs Mei Changsu in turn to help him, despite the fact that there is no benefit to his current plan and that it's deadly dangerous. Investigate he will! So that he can clear their names once he is Emperor.
So that's okay, yes, right? Investigate for later, when you have more power - but quietly, quietly! Don't mess things up by drawing attention to old wounds!
Jingyan, don't be silly and stubborn now. Listen to Su Zhe. Please. Listen. Jingyan, I know it's hard, but please, just listen. 
Oh man, this is emotional. Mei Changsu falls to his knees and and vows to do everything in his power to help Prince Jing to uncover the truth. And he bows very deeply. Equally overcome by emotions and gratitude, Prince Jing does the same.
Jing, do you really not have ANY idea who this man is?
Sometimes what is most obvious hides easiest in plain sight. Oh these men. They break my heart. 
A sound - the beating of a gong - brings them back to their feet. It's the "Jin bell" and it is rung 27 times. This means ... that Great Grandma has died.
Oh nooooooooooo I really did forget this!
*reaches for tissues already* but then gets distracted by how gorgeous those two are. 
Jingyan runs away, and thus, he does not see how hard this news hits Mr. Su. Like... SUPER hard. He coughs up a lot of blood, goddamit.
It just occurred to me to wonder how our bodies make more actual blood. Did we learn that in school, Americans, when we were learning about the body? Science was not the class I enjoyed.  I know leaves use chlorophyll and I remember some fun genetics math-y exercises...not a lot else. It was last century though - some of the stuff I learned has since been proven NOT to be true, that's how long ago it was. (Yes, smartass. We knew the Earth was round. Roundish.)
This is deflection because it's very sad that he lost his grandma, the only person who knew him on sight.
My heart breaks for Lin Shu who has already lost so much. This has to be so hard. So hard. No wonder he's spitting up blood. 
And to answer your question, I have no idea about the US curriculum as far as biology and anatomy goes, but the body makes blood in the bone marrow. That's where red blood cells are formed. They are only a percentage of the blood though. Bone marrow also makes white blood cells too (the ones that fight infections) that are also part of blood tissue. There are also platelets in the blood, and they help blood to clot - they're also made in the bone marrow. And all three of these types of cells have a limited shelf life. They all float around in the blood plasma, which isn't formed in the bone marrow, but is a composite of various materials from different organs in the body. When you donate blood, the plasma regenerates after about 24 hours but the red blood cells take 4 to 6 weeks. Anyway, it's all very interesting. I love biology and the blood is particularly fascinating. And yes, I am sure you could probably have googled that...
So it's really not good that Su is losing so much blood. And that he's coughing it up means that his body is failing. 
Since he cannot go to the official funeral like all the princes, he dresses in white at home and holds his own little funeral ceremony. Fei Liu keeps him company. He tells the young one that his great grandma passed away before he could return to her. A bit to the side, his loyal servants worry about him doing the fasting and kneeling and bowing and everything.
Can't you people DO something? Do we know what he's dying from? Is it ulcers?
I am sure that if they could do something for him, they would. It's obvious his men adore and love him and would serve him no matter where he went. 
At the royal funeral, Crown Prince sneaks a little something into his mouth. Scumbag. He offers some to Prince of Yu ... who takes it. All the other princes are snacking too. Except for Jingyan, of course. He's the only one who has the decency to observe the funeral rites? Wow.
But a grandma would always want you to eat.
Jingyan is the only one with honour. I love you Jingyan. 
30 days have passed, and the two "good" Ministers discuss that the Emperor wants one of his sons to go to Mount Wei, to observe the Great Grandma's Wake. But who will it be? They have observed that Jing was the only one able to stick with the requirements. But is that good or bad? they ask themselves.
Why would it be bad?
It probably means that he's the only one who is willing to stand up to corruption in the court, which essentially means standing up to the Emperor - and we all know how suspicious and trigger, well kill-happy the Emperor is. At least that was my take on it. 

Look who's back! Nihuang! Well, thank goodness, because Mr. Su is not doing too well ... She tells him that she saw Grandma's body and that she looked very peaceful. He nods in acknowledgment of this, but what wears him down is that he could not see her. He remembers that one time he saw her since he came back, when she recognized him despite his altered appearance. And he breaks down in tears, saying how she always missed him, how he hoped to reveal himself to her.
It's very heartbreaking, but I can't stop wondering what they do to these bodies that they can be in a room with them for 30 days. Because even an embalmed body is going to rot.
That's a good question. I am so glad that Nihuang knew that Lin Shu would need someone to talk to. 
Nihuang remembers how he was always Great Grandma's favorite, how she would come and protect him when his father wanted to punish him for something he did wrong. He starts smiling at the memory, when a coughing fit racks his body.
It's not fair! Why can't he at least live?
Seriously. And marry Nihuang and make beautiful babies together. 
Ah, make him stop thinking about the past :(( He tells her how he feels like an iceberg, roasted by fire. Sometimes flaming hot, sometimes chilled to the bone. She tells him to take care ... for her. For the future. She will do well without him in her future too, he answers. Ahhhh ... is this the closest he'll ever get to telling her he is dying?
I love Nihuang almost as much as I love my Psycho Kitten. Why can't she have her man? It's not fair!
It's very not fair. I think that the writer wants us to feel that unfairness - this is exactly what the betrayal of the Chiyan Army did for those 70,000 men and their families. They will never live their lives, and marry, or see their children. They are gone from the earth and their ghosts haunt Lin Shu/Su Zhe/Mei Chang Su. It is why he feels it so imperatively that he must give them justice - so they can rest in peace. 
But she wants to be with him, close to him... he tells her sadly that that would distract him too much. She has hope that now that there is a funeral and then the time for mourning, the Emperor won't marry her off (at least not right away) - and she could go hold the Wake for Grandma, so that she won't have to return to Yunan (ergo, be a little closer to him). To that, he agrees: it is safer that way for her.
Does she stay single forever?
I can tell you if you want...but first I'm going to cry at this scene. Oh these two. *sobs*
This is already breaking my heart, but to see her in tears but happy to be allowed at least this! Oh man...
Bravely smiling for him. Wahhhhhhhh, yes, I cry.
How can looking at a gif make all these feelings happen!? This show. I love these people so much. 
Time for Xie Yu to be sent into exile... but when he is outside the city gates, somebody calls to stop! It's Jingrui. And Xie Bi. And ... Grand Princess Li Yang. It seems that Mr. Su told her that her husband had a letter to give to her. If he hasn't written it yet ... then he better should do it now.
The lighting there. *shivers*
Wow. Yes, that lighting. 
Xie Yu understands: Mr. Su wants him to write down all his secrets and give them to his wife for safe-keeping. As long as he is alive, it'll be kept a secret. When he dies, it will be revealed. That's insurance against being killed by Xiajiang! Clever. Really clever. And so, Xie Yu writes his letter in plain sight - the more people know he wrote it the better. Hmmmm.... but what is Xiadong doing on that hill outside the city?!
Why did Mei Changsu do this, do you think? A measure of pity for his family?
That's what I thought. Perhaps also as a way to be able to manipulate Xiajiang as well. And to make sure that the secret is written down somewhere. 
More strategy than pity, I'd say. He keeps his promises, so he has to make sure Xie Yu is not harmed by Xiajiang. Also, he then has something concrete that he could use against Xiajiang
Prince Jing has gone to see Mr. Su (some time has passed). Mei Changsu claims he's better - he looks it, too. The "sixth brother" is the one that was chosen to go to Mount Wei ... and surprisingly (to everyone but Su), Nihuang requested to stay there for a year too. Also, Prince Jing has not been idle - he got going on war horse supply chain planning, like he discussed with Mei Changsu before the death of grandma. Cute. He's really into this.
How did people manage to live lives if people regularly had to go off and stand vigil for a year? Was that for everyone or just for super super royalty?
Yeah, I don't know. But at least it allows her to escape the Emperor trying to marry her off. 
Next assignment: food supply. Mei Changsu begins explaining about the amount of grain and where to purchase it from (using his hands in a particular way), but Prince Jing does not seem to pay attention for long. Rather ... he stares at Mr. Su, so intently, that Mr. Su stops and asks what the matter is.
"Have you heard of Lin Shu, the young Marshall of the Chiyan Army?" he asks, almost embarrassed.
Oups. Quickly, Mei Changsu retracts his finger. Yes, he has heard of him. Some. Why?
Oh, Jing was reminded of him just now. He thinks he would be great friends with Mr. Su too.
You would all be BFFs, yes. Picnics and camp outs and sleepovers. Empire takeovers. Dynasty makeovers.
I totally understand logically why MCS can't tell Jingyan, but I REALLY want him to tell Jingyan. Like right now. So much wasted bromance time. It's a crying shame. 
Mei Changsu says Jing is overpraising him, he is just a nobody and does not compare to someone like Lin Shu. Ah, but Prince Jing finds it interesting that he knows so much about military matters although he is from the pugilist world. That is because there are many discharged soldiers in his Alliance, says Mr. Su. Okay, Jingyan buys it ... but be careful, Lin Shu. This is not the first time that he is reminded of his cousin when he watches you.
You will all have to remind me again how bad it is for him to know. Since now he knows that they were definitely framed, how much more is it to know that Lin Shu survived?
Jingyan is a bit hot-headed and might cause trouble is one reason. There is a much longer explanation later on the drama that made a lot of sense to me then, but I don't remember all the points. And some of the points I do remember will spoil things in the drama I think. And I think also to protect him in case MCS's plan fails and Jingyan has the power of deniability. 
Meanwhile, Xie Yu has finished writing his letter. And he seals it with blood. His wife promises to keep it safe (and not to read it herself). As a final parting gift, she brought clothes for him and some money ... and I have to admit, these two move me. That's it then! Xie Yu turns around to leave (without even looking at Jingrui once)...
It's a complicated relationship, these two. But I have been moved by his love for her all along. Oddly, I like her less than I like him.
Good script writing and acting that we can still feel pity/sympathy/like a terrible villain. It reminds us all of our humanity - even when the villain lacks it in spades. 
... and then, Xiadong appears.

Mr. Su and his Prince have moved on to tea; they're discussing Xie Yu's plight and the new power balance at court. When asked about Xie Yu's life, Mei Changsu says he will only protect him from Xiajiang, but not from the rest. The rest being: Xiadong.
Why? I'm sure they tell us. (it's what he promised) I just don't remember, so it's all new to me again today! (and Xiadong just found out Xie Yu killed her husband. She has a MASSIVE grudge) Also: you can get a very similar cast iron tea pot from Republic of Tea.  I want it but don't need it or have room for it. grrrr
I imagine that tea sets like this one sold through the roof after Nirvana in Fire's airing in China. They are so pretty!
Oh my. But what will she do? She walks towards Xie Yu, sword in hand, and he retreats backwards ... until Jingrui steps between them. She is in no mood to let this go, but when little bro and his mother also come closer, she says she has just come to see him off. She is just grateful that he brought back her husband's body. And he better be careful on the way ... it's very dangerous out there. I guess Xie Yu won't rest easy in the future ...
Worried Seal, what becomes of you now?
I think that both Xia Dong and Jingrui need GIANT hugs. Their lives must suck so much right now. 
The Emperor is in a VERY bad mood ... until his Eunuch tells him that it's Consort Jing's birthday today; off he goes to visit her! Already there, enjoying lily soup: Prince Jing. The Emperor overhears the two talking ... about how he cannot come and go as he wishes. The Emperor makes himself known, gives Consort Jing many gifts, and then tells Jingyan to tell him what he wants ... he has been promised something for his good services a while ago.
Look at his happy face there!
Oh my beloved! I just want to squish that face! 

Of course he wants nothing: he just did what he had to do. But, since his father insists: could he please pardon an exiled prisoner? Oh, the Emperor gets immediately angry, thinking this is about some scholar who has been criticizing the Court. Jingyan kneels down and tells his father he is mistaken: it is merely a commoner he seeks pardon for. A physician, in fact: it is the one Consort Jing learned medicine from (as she explains) - she just now complained about his hardship to her son.
Such a good son.
My heart. Jingyan, you have done things to my heart! 
Quickly changing his temper once again, the Emperor is now amused. Prince Jing can come up with a plan to rescue him, that does not need his pardon. What else does Jing want? But Jingyan insists - he has no other method, he needs this pardon from the Emperor (Consort Jing is very uncomfortable while watching this exchange). Well played, though! The Emperor is pleased that Jingyan did not misuse his power - and promises to pardon the man.
Jing is principled in every thing. The King admires that right now but at what point does he become paranoid and worried that there's this good, wise man around?
Yeah, I do not like the Emperor's changeability one bit. I imagine that Su has helped coach Jing a bit though for this. Or if not, perhaps Jingyan is learning the ways of negotiation in court. 


Is this the last we've seen of Xie Yu? For the sake of Mei Changsu, I hope so ... but for the sake of this great actor, I hope not. I did fear that Xiadong might kill him and then was surprised that I don't want him dead, obviously. Such a horrible person! And yet, there is something to this character that moves me. Maybe it's his unwavering belief that he did nothing wrong. His perverted morals, that are morals nonetheless. He did terrible things, but I much prefer him over people such as the Crown Prince and the Emperor.
I have a fondness for Xie Yu myself, so I totally understand. And agree!
He is just such an interesting character and has a great screen presence. And it is always more riveting to have worthy opponents for our hero. 

The Emperor ... he can be a cuddly teddy bear one moment and a raging lunatic the next. The drama tells us again and again that ultimately, he is what's rotten and bad in this world and indeed ... the longer we watch him, the better we can see it. His suspiciousness is basically paranoia and paranoid rulers are super dangerous, because they're completely crazy. Mei Changsu was serious when he told Jingyan to let the Chiyan Case rest. It is super dangerous to even think about investigating it.
What's that quote about the greatest evil being those who do nothing? The man in and of himself isn't evil and doesn't have bad intentions. But his weaknesses and failures are what damaged the court and allow the rot to fester.
I don't know about him not being evil. He rather violently and bloodily conquered and took over the thrown. He's certainly a lot less active than he was in his youth, but yeah, he's not the sort of ruler one could ever really trust because he himself barely trusts anyone around him. 

But that moment, when Prince Jing told him that he understood the peril well and that he would STILL go ahead, that moment was extremely important for their future relationship. Mei Changsu could see how Prince Jing valued the honor of the Lin-family and Prince Qi higher than his own life. And that is more than he could ever ask for. His plan is paying off. Time may be short and obstacles may be many, but with someone like Prince Jing by his side, he can at least believe to succeed in the end.
He must live that long. It would be too sad for him to die without achieving this, even if Jing goes on to succeed for him.
Ah. I'm crying again at your words Kakashi. This story. It just does something to me. 

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