Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 25 (Recap)

Banruo (or rather, her network of spies) emerges as new target of Mei Changsu's, but is he fully aware of her abilities? She is not one to sit idle and wait for the erosion of her entire power base, no, she immediately hits back. I'm starting to feel uneasy again. And then, there's a matter of a certain book ... okay, I'm feeling VERY uneasy.
JoAnne: I want him to manipulate some situation where she has to cut off those two hanks of hair she leaves hanging down.
Eleanor: Even though Su is VERY smart and well-prepared, there seems to be so much that seems uncertain. But I guess that's part of the charm because he already seems to have accounted for it, or has he? 

Episode 25

Meng in da house!! Oh, we haven't seen you pretty dimwit in forever! He tells Su about the Emperor's rage fit, which was due to Prince Yu fighting with the Crown Prince again. It was about the control of the Capitol Patrol, who are master-less after Xie Yu's demise. Su explains to the clueless Meng (awww, sweetie) that the Commander of the Capitol Patrol is higher in rank than the Minister of Defense, which makes it quite a desirable post. Su's take on things: When two people quarrel, a third rejoices.
Awww, I love Meng. He's capable, just very straightforward in his thinking. He wouldn't look dumb if he weren't standing next to these guys, really. I like him and his solid, good, loyal ways.
I totally think Meng Zhi is there to help the audience catch up in case we missed all the bajillion plot details going on. haha. 
The Emperor is now eating Consort Jing's soup. He is happy enough about things ... and offers Prince Jing the Command of the Capitol Patrols. Haha, Jing doesn't really seems overjoyed... but he accepts graciously, after hesitating briefly but noticeably.
Puts him right in the crosshairs with his brothers, doesn't it?
Yup. Maybe it's also really starting to hit him that he's now in the big leagues. Gulp. 
After his meal, Consort Jing suggests the Emperor take a nap, an idea he likes very much. It also means Prince Jing turns away to leave. But the Emperor calls out to him: he is sorry to disturb a rare reunion between mom and son. To make up for it, he grants Jingyan the right to come visit his mother anytime he wants to, without having to ask permission. Oh, a rare smile!
Now THAT'S the reward that Jing wants! He wouldn't even have dared to ask.
Jingyan smiles and all is right with the world. I don't even need anything else. 
The Empress gets to hear of all this pretty quickly. She's cool about it. But Noble Consort Yue is "unhappy", which probably means ... trouble. Yes, she's veeeery jealous of Consort Jing's new found favor with the Emperor. Wow, and they are MEAN to each other... Their weapons are their tongues.
I will not rest until I understand why she only has half the eyebrows she should have.
Surely they have something better to do than to fight amongst themselves? Like there has to be a better way of helping their respective sons get the crown prince title without all the meanness. Though I guess not. 
Tonglu leads Mr. Shisan to Mei Changsu's house: he has important intel, best brought personally. In the last few months, he sought to remove Banruo's informants and thinks he has been successful in uprooting over half of them. We learn that Banruo had a shifu, a now dead princess named Xuanji. She may be dead, but a whole army of women (Hong Xiu Zhao) is still doing her bidding! Her tribe was rebellious (the Chiyan army fought them), she was captured, but managed to hide and build up her secret organisation. Banruo seeks to create turmoil in the country, just to comfort the spirit of her princess teacher.
Stirring up shit just because? No desire to gain anything in particular? Just... feeling evil. Okay.
It's a rather nasty form of revenge - chaos. I guess they realize they can't get their people back on the throne, so they'll just leave the kingdom in chaos so another power can destroy them?
Mr. Su tells Mr. Shisan to be careful - Banruo is sure to strike back in her desperation. And indeed: she has been blindsided by the loss of many of her spies. She gets wind that her recent troubles may be connected somehow to the Su residence and decides to do something against it ... she knows someone who may gain access to this "airtight" mansion.
Hmmm. I suppose it's good for the story for Mei Changsu to suffer a set back but it's not good for our hearts!
Seriously. This drama needs to come with a health warning: those with heart conditions or high blood pressure, don't marathon this show. Take in small does. 
Idle times ... Mr. Su is writing in a book. Comments, mainly, as Meng - who is visiting him again - notices. The book is called "Records of the Land of Xiang" and Mei Changsu has been to some of the places described. Meng is flabbergasted how different Su's writing has become. It's not only by design: Su says he has no strength in his wrists anymore and cannot write with the same vigor as before.
Oh come on.
Haha. It makes sense. Plus it's a useful plot device. 
They exchange news about Little Prince Mu (who is kept in the Capital according to Su's wishes) and Xiadong (who is unusually quiet). Su says he wants her to have a little confrontation with Xiajiang, to see how the other Xias at the Bureau will react.
We need to know which side they'll choose!
Poor Xiadong! Though she's plenty tough, so we don't need to worry about her too much perhaps. 
Suddenly, Li Gang comes running and reports that Prince Yu has come straight in, they couldn't stop him. Quickly, Meng, hide! The only place he can go is into the secret passage. Not a second too early! Yu comes striding in, in a huff. Prince Jing got control of the Capitol Patrol! He also rants against Banruo who has become so useless of late (hehe, STRIKE, team MCS).
Ohh, Yu. If you only knew...
It is so humourous watching him being so clueless. Is Meng going to run into Prince Jing in the passage? Ooh! That will be interesting to have to explain. 
Su acts surprised by all this ... and calms Prince Yu down, though it takes a while. It's not only the Capitol Patrol thing Yu is concerned about ... the visiting rights he received, they are for Noble Princes only! (At this moment, Jing is just a "Duke"). Prince Yu fears that within this year, his brother might be conferred to the same rank as him. 
He's your BROTHER. Why shouldn't he be?
Yeah, but he's like the seventh prince. Prince Yu doesn't want any more competent competition.
Cut to: Prince Jing taking over the Capitol Patrol, looking fabulous. He tells the Commanding officer that the "Capital patrols will need to change some bad habits". Yum, not only looking fabulous but also firm and stern. Veeery sexy.
Favorite men's costumes. These and the more armor-y ones.
*swoon* I think I might need some help to stand up again. 
Sitting in the secret passage, reading in Su's book: our Meng. Well, he's actually just flicking through it, yawning deeply :) Poooooor man, restless and bored. He starts pacing when suddenly, the secret passage opens on the other side! It's Prince Jing, looking VERY surprised to find the Commander hovering down there. Oh shit. He should not know HOW close the two are, right?
Ooh! I knew this was going to happen! Dun dun dun! 
Meng quite truthfully explains what he is doing here: he came to seek advise from Mr. Su on his day off, when Prince Yu suddenly turned up. Well, the really interesting question is WHY Mr. Su would want Meng to hide from Yu, but Prince Jing either does not think of asking that or is not suspicious enough. For now. Prince Jing sits down with Meng, because he certainly can't go barging in when Yu is sitting there in the room either. Okay, this is very awkward, haha.
I spent a lot of time here thinking about what would happen if, say, Yu were visiting and Meng hadn't been there, and Jing just knocked on the wall. Have they planned what to do about that kind of thing at all? And I'm sorry, but okay, so Jing doesn't think about why Yu shouldn't see Meng there - but no one gave a thought to how Meng would view JING showing up in a secret passage to Su?
Ah, but remember? Meng "discovered" the secret passage in Jing's palace. So he "knows" of the special connection between Jing and Su
So at least MCS had allowed for that part to be accounted for. Oh the adorabubbleness of that awkward gif. Hee hee.   
Naturally, Prince Jing notices the book lying there and picks it up to read. He's very interested. Iiiiik, I'm getting nervous.
Jing hasn't picked up on soooooooooo many clues, though.
Poor Jingyan. Water buffalo can be a tad dense sometimes. Don't worry hubby, we still love you. 
The calming down of Prince Yu is still going on. Su convinces Yu that losing the Emperor's favor is punishment for fighting with the Crown Prince again  (against his explicit advice, hehe, I like the scolding) and for appearing too powerful. The rewards going to Prince Jing are just a warning from the Emperor. Su thinks that the abolition of the Crown Prince is imminent, but not if Prince Yu pushes for it too forcefully. Wow, Divine Talent indeed ... how can he turn things like this every time? It sounds so reasonable. 
Because it is reasonable. He uses people's blind spots very effectively.
It's a little scary sometimes how brilliant he is. 
Finally, Prince Yu is taking his leave ... In passing, Mei Changsu gets Yu to release the Zhuo family without any strings attached (he was thinking of using them). Also, he counsels Prince Yu to have Banruo keep an eye on Prince Jing (just in case). But where is she? She has travelled somewhere outside the Capital (to Xi Niu Town), seeking out a member of her "Sisterhood" (she calls her 4th sister). One that has left her past behind her, living (and wanting) a quiet life.
Yay finally some Banruo story!
Ooh! Sneaksy Su. Pretend you're suspicious of Prince Jing. Haha. Oh Prince Yu, you are being played for a fool!
Banruo is quite vehemently anti-quiet life. It may be impossible to restore their lost kingdom, but at the very least, they can shake the hated Jinling enemy and take revenge. Oh, and interesting ... so the case of this lost kingdom and the Princess' Mingling is closely interlinked with the Chiyan army massacre! The Chiyan army was the one who destroyed the Hua tribe and the Princess helped to turn Prince Qi and his father against each other?
Ohhh, I didn't pick up on that first time around.
Dun dun dun. The plot thickens!

After "wasting" hours upon hours on Yu, the Prince finally leaves - and Mr. Su suddenly remembers Brother Meng in the underground passage (haha). Quite energetically, he goes down into the tunnel himself and calls for Commander General Meng (thankfully, he does not call him brother)... and stops short when he sees Prince Jing sitting there too. It only takes him seconds to adjust to the new situation though and he invites both of them up into his house. 
Shall we have some tea?
Yes please. 
There, Prince Jing hands Su his book back. Double Handporn. (Yum!) Damn, this book thing clearly is relevant, I was right to feel uneasy... but first, they discuss the Capitol Patrol and his likely elevation to Noble Prince (Prince Jing is of course not aware of what it means to be granted the visiting privileges - and Mei Changsu needs to explain that the secretariat will certainly point out to the Emperor that its not a real favor to just grant the rights without the title).
That's not logical. He knows he can't visit freely, and he likely knows why. Maybe he hasn't thought it through yet, but I don't think it's possible for him to not know that he's been granted one of the privileges of a Noble Prince. (And a Noble Prince? As opposed to what? A Common Prince? Isn't a prince noble by definition?)
Those are fixed ranks! Like Noble Consort (which is more than just Consort) I think this just shows that Prince Jing still is not well versed in all things court - and he does not care about that stuff either
I thought Jingyan was just confused as to why they had to make it official and both the secretariat about it (mostly because he doesn't really care about the ranks stuff). It could also just be a writing device to inform the viewers about the ranks. Plus, Prince Jing really hasn't spent much time at court and doesn't know the ins and outs very well. That and he's been neglected so it's possible no one educated him well about it. 
Prince Jing voices his worry about rising to quickly (the reason, by the way, why he hesitated when his father offered him the command for the Patrols) and Mei Changsu agrees: too quickly or forcefully would be a problem. But when opportunity presents itself like this? Take it. Also, he has already pacified Prince Yu, at least for the time being. They smile over the fact that the Emperor is having a real hard time bestowing favors on Prince Jing. SO CUTE.
Jing's whole face lights up, I love it.
This moment. Can we bottle up the happiness and keep its glow forever please? 
Banruo tells her 4th sister why she has come, why she needs urgent help - and when she hears about the near destruction of Banruo's network, and how she quasi lost Prince Yu's trust overnight, and when Banruo promises that this will be the very last thing she does, before she'll let all the other sisters retire, 4th Sister agrees to help. Wow, that was some skillful arm-twisting. The task for 4th sister? To seduce a man. Uh-oh....
Not my Meng!
Eeeep! What's going to happen?! 
Okay, time for everyone to leave Mei Changsu's house. Ah, but wait! Prince Jing bends down to pick up the book. He wants to finish reading it, since it's so interesting. Can he borrow it for a few days? Y... yes, says Mei Changsu. But he seems quite worried about this.
It will be fine. Jing can't see things right in front of his face.
But they've practically been beating us over the head about the book all episode. I'm super worried. 


So many people to be careful of ... *sigh*. Mei Changsu taking on Banruo and her organization is of course necessary, because she and the effects of her actions are hard to control. She brings an element of chaos to the game that no strategist would want. In addition, we learned that she and her Sisterhood are connected to the Chiyan Army Massacre as well, so it is possible that the move against her serves a double purpose.
Banruo! *shakes fist at sky*
*sigh* Why does this have to be so hard?! 

Banruo is an interesting character and I am glad that we finally got to find out more about her. Her shifu has been dead for a while, but she is still fighting on. Why? It is not directly explained, but through the interaction between her and "4th sister", we learn that the Princess was exceptionally intelligent and brilliant, a true leader. She gave many women a purpose (I think there were only women in her secret organization?). Her death must have been horrible for many of these women, but it seems that the ones able to reorganized their lives. Banruo has not - she lives for revenge. It seems to me that she has absolutely nothing else in her life and that makes her very dangerous. Far more dangerous than let's say Xie Yu, who at least still wished to live above all else. I'm not doubting Mei Changsu, of course, but I do hope he fully understands what drives her.
She's just out there wreaking havoc for the sake of havoc. She's Loki.
She did watch her entire nation get destroyed. I can understand her burning desire for revenge. 
This actress gets the bestest roles, I like it!  

Banruo's interaction with Prince Yu also got a different taste, didn't they ... she clearly seeks to sabotage him - or the kingdom, through him. That she is losing his trust is a great threat to her (and also the main reason why she needs to act quickly). Prince Yu does not suspect anything in that direction ... but he is smart enough to be aware of shifting power currents around him and react to them. That got him far, of course, but his biggest weakness is that he trusts certain people. Banruo as long as she was useful - and now Mei Changsu, who he is convinced is the one key player who will guarantee him the throne. Underestimating him is dangerous, though: he is a keen observer. And if he ever starts distrusting Mei Changsu ... we have a problem. 
Poor guy - the TWO people in all the world he trusts to give him advice BOTH are using him for their own plots and neither means him well. It's funny in a really dark way.
It almost makes one feel sorry for him. Almost. 

Once again, this episode offered a glimpse into a great mind: Mei Changsu has the ability to turn (almost) every situation into an advantage. When he talks to Jing and Meng, he even explicitly teaches us how to do it: You cannot bet on the choices of your opponents - but come up with solutions for whatever your opponent does. *writes everything down* This is exactly what a good leader should be able to do! React flexibly to each given situation and optimize it. Ha, but it is also quite clear that certain situations might simply not offer any good solutions for the master mind.
Well, nobody wins all the time.
Mei Chang Su is impressive. Scarily so. 

That is why anything that seems NOT controlled by Mei Changsu makes me uneasy. The thing with the book was clearly NOT controlled. At this point in time, we do not know exactly what role the book will play in the future, but it is absolutely clear that it WILL play a role. Damn the book. 
Never write anything down!
Well, they do say that the pen is mightier than the therefore rather dangerous, no?