Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 30 (Recap)

I absolutely hate this episode! Prince Jing isn't here, Mei Changsu is seriously ill, Tonglu is a fool, Xiajiang is dangerous, Prince Yu is smart when he shouldn't be and the Emperor gets to touch Consort Jing almost every night now.
JoAnne: Oh right, I wasn't thinking about HIS visits when I said she had that to look forward to, last post.
Eleanor: Okay, yes, this episode made me miserable. *wants to stab Xiajiang with a thousand forks*

Episode 30

Mei Changsu has arrived at Marquis Yan's mansion, where he is greeted enthusiastically by Yujin (whose sunshine is a little dimmed by what has happened, but who still is an amazing young man. Also, him and Jingrui write to each other regularly, worried seal is quite well, it seems). Marquis Yan invites his son to join him and Su in their discussion. Su smiles a small little smile ... he approves.
Because Yujin doesn't just have a bright smile, it seems.
Yay! I love that Su has helped heal this little family. *sniffs*
The conversation is friendly, and Marquis Yan asks after Su's health, and then probes gently for Su's intentions. He is still under the impression that Su is Prince Yu's man, and that that is the reason why he visits him. That is why he makes it quite clear that he will never ever ever ever help Prince Yu.
Question: Are those top knot cages entirely a fashion thing, or do they convey any sort of information beyond wealth or sense of style?
Joyce, Joyce, moonlil, moonlil??? Can you tell us please? :D 
Oh, but this is not at all about Prince Yu, says Mei Changsu. And BAM, both father and son get it almost immediately. But Yan is of the opinion that Prince Jing has no chance to win. Plus, the Empress is his sister. All true, Mei Changsu agrees, but is he willing to help anyway? He is! Marquis of Yan, you rock. I really like you. And I also like Yujin, who understands exactly why his dad agreed to this, and what it means for them. He will follow with no regrets.
Good people. I approve of this collaboration.
The more we get to know Marquis Yan, the more I adore him. 
And this is what Mr. Su hopes Marquis Yan will do: Listen and talk to the courtiers, seeing how Prince Jing is not suited to do such a thing (and does not want to cause fraction fights). A perfect job for an old diplomat! Despite the fact that they are on the same wavelength overall, Yan is fascinated by how he cannot read Mei Changsu well ... but he has a question: "Are you a former member of Prince Qi's household?" Oh WOW.
All that time meditating produces a very clear mind.
Hahahaha. Mei Chang Su. This is what happens when you get really smart diplomats to help you out. 
That is a shocking question, in more than one way. Su says nothing but drinks tea, and Marquis Yan apologizes for his impoliteness. However, this is the only sensible explanations for why Su would want to help Prince Jing. Actually ... that is true. But Mei Changsu says: "For fame and power - aren't those reason enough?" Nope, sorry, that's not really you, Mei Changsu.
Yeah, nobody's gonna buy that. Maybe Yu or the Crown Prince would, for a while. But that's only because they cannot fathom any other reason for doing anything.
Well, we know that Marquis Yan isn't going to rat him out. 
Yan won't shut up about it either, so Mei Changsu finally says that he was a youth who admired Prince Qi and wanted to support him. Until this day. Okay, fine. Let's all pretend that's all there is to it.
These gifs are making me smile. The whole time I'm reading your sceptical take, I'm watching him shake his head with a very clear 'you think that story works on me?' face.
He's like: Okay, okay, I'll take your line, but I'm sure not going to believe you. 
Banruo and Prince Yu are waiting for Xiajiang at a summer house. It's a bit chilly, but remote enough for such an undertaking. Prince Yu is still quite unsure whether Xiajiang will come. He also says "it's never about me" (awwwwwwwwww) when thinking about why this meeting is taking place at all. Because of the threat that Prince Jing has become to all the corrupt scumbaggery.
I hate that I feel a little bad for him. This show is good at making the villains people you can have a tiny bit of feeling for.
I like that it does that. It's good to have the bad guys be at least a little human. 
Xiajiang is not coming and Prince Yu has a mind to go home. But Banruo tells him to be more patient. Dun-dun, here comes the man! Looking like ... a breeding experiment between Darth Vader and Thorin went wrong.
The very first Cone Head.
This guy radiates danger. I would run if I were Prince Yu, but probably seems like his only chance so he goes for it and assures the old man that he will support him if he is Emperor, no matter what. As it happens, Xiajiang knows about the one thing they need to poke Prince Jing's weak spot, without danger of angering the Emperor. Go away, I hate you >.<
Never trust a 'no matter what' promise, anyway. They're MADE to be broken.
Xiajiang is chillingly scary. 
Tonglu has come to see Mei Changsu (who is tired, but deems this important enough to deal with it himself). Tonglu is offered tea and drinks it hastily. Too hastily. He seems inattentive and scatterbrained today, not like his usual self. Zhen Ping looks at him askance. Tonglu has the following news: one, Xie Yu has arrived at the penal colony, where there already have been attempts on his life, but not fierce ones. They're likely just probes. To ensure Xie Yu's life, they must watch the Grand Princess better, says Mei Changsu - Prince Jing's Capitol Patrols can do that. Two, Xiadong has been out of the capital for the last few months. She tried to talk to an ex-officer of Xie Yu's, but it seems he was assassinated before she got a chance (by the Xuanjing Bureau, they assume). It means that Xiajiang is super careful and super suspicious, without knowing how much she actually knows. She needs protection too, Mei Changsu decides.
Oh yeah, we need XiaDong to stick around. I actually have plans for her and Meng, now that our Seal has departed the capitol.
Man, Tong Lu, you are worrying me! Also, Hu Ge, he looks so beautiful here in his sickliness. 
Then, it's time to dismiss Tonglu. But not before Mei Changsu utters a warning (listen, Tonglu, listen!!): Be particularly careful of Qin Banruo, who is certain to not give up easily. When Tonglu has left, Zhen Ping is deep in thought, which does not escape Mei Changsu's notice. Zhen Ping thinks that something is off with Tonglu; he seems more energetic, and eager to leave. Li Gang hasn't noticed anything, really, but Zhen Ping's unease is enough for Mei Changsu to notify Mr. Shisan to be more alert.
So this makes sense, maybe we don't need to worry. They'll realize he's suddenly involved with a woman and investigate her and it won't add up, or they'll watch her and see her meet with Banruo. And then use her to flip the game around! Right?
Oh I hope so! I really do!
Oh dear, Tonglu is so far gone I fear he is a complete goner. The vixen even waits up for him now, when he is out. Impulsively, he grabs her hand and tells her he will ask his "uncle" (is that Mr. Shisan?) for permission to get married to her. Oh for F's sake, man.
I've decided that strange hair choices are a good marker of a person's worth. Or rather, lack thereof.
She's totally going to fall for him too though, isn't she? And get caught by her own trap. Well maybe not, she's super smart. 
And on top of this, it's time to continue the Xiajiang-Xu plotting. And this is what Xiajiang has against Prince Jing: Knowledge of one of Lin Shu's former Lieutenants (Wei Zhen) being alive, hiding under a new identity (as Su Xuan, the son of a mega-famous medicine maker who happened to have married the very rich daughter of another super famous medicine family). He managed to escape the slaughter, hid for ten years, and then decided to do something so flashy?! He's an idiot!! >.< Anyway, they have not yet captured him - so maybe there is hope? - but Xiajiang has sent Xiaqiu (whom we still haven't met!) to do exactly that. Great. NOT.
Well, given Jing's inability to recognize his own cousin, I think there's a good argument to be made (true or not) that he doesn't know this guy, either.
Yeah, but Su was totally physically transformed. Wei Zhen probably looks the same. Crap. This is not good. Not good at all. Ah! Xiajiang, couldn't you just stay away and not make things so hard!
In the meantime, Mei Changsu's health has gotten even worse. The doctor orders strict bedrest and no visitors. 
Like he'll listen.
Su, please get better. Please. 
And if you're not worried enough, here is how Xiajiang plans to throw Prince Jing back to the ditch (Prince Yu's suggestion to force a confession from him just shows how stupid he is): Capture Wei Zhen, and then let Prince Jing, who has no idea the guy is still alive, know about it. Of course, Prince Jing, hothead that he is, will do everything to save him.
Oh, see - he really didn't know. So the thing he has against Jing isn't knowledge, it's more a potential future tripping point.
Crap. Ugh! Xiajiang is so smart! Well, this does make for more interesting storytelling. 

While some are seriously ill, others like the Emperor are too full of themselves to sleep. He dreams of the Grand Empress Dowager all the time, maybe because her anniversary is coming up and he has to go guard the tomb for a few days. Consort Jing is there with him (Again? I don't like him near her at all) and it seems he knows about the hard time she's getting from the Empress. He offers to help if she cannot bear it any longer.
Oooh, let's take the Empress down a peg or two. Although... I mean, I know it's custom, I know it was accepted, but I can't help thinking it's natural for her to be jealous and sensitive even if she wasn't already a conniver.
Poor Consort Jing. She has to tolerate this horrid man. 
After praising Consort Jing for her calm character (so not like the Empress), he asks her whether she has ever dreamt of her. Naturally, Consort Jing thinks he means the Grand Empress Dowager. But no, he means "her" (Consort Chen, the one who committed suicide). Because he sees her in his dreams now. And yes, Consort Jing dreams of her. She looks the same as she did back then. She stands under the plum tree, not speaking, just smiling. At that, the Emperor weeps. I hate him.
She was the one Yan loved? That the Emperor stole, right?
I go through fits of anger at the Emperor and tearing up at the tragedy of all of this. 
And we're not done with the plotters in the summer house either... Xiajiang is haughtily sure that his plan is foolproof (he "knows" Prince Jing) when Banruo warns him of that other person who Prince Jing listens to: Mei Changsu. Who will definitely stop Prince Jing from doing anything rash in the case of Wei Zhen. Destroying him will be hard, Prince Yu says, but they can attack in a different way. Their plan will work if Prince Jing is no longer willing to listen to Mr. Su's advice.
Like that's gonna happen. Is it? Gonna happen? It won't, right?
Oh crap. Xiajiang is totally smart enough to create a rift, isn't he?! Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. 


I hate these people!!!! Xiajiang the most, the cunning old wolf is just too damn dangerous! I was relieved when he just laughed at Banruo for worrying so much about this "Divine Talent" (it's good if he does not take him seriously), but I'm not at all happy with this new plan. Leave our bromance alone!!!
The Sunshine Brothers are already apart, I can't have Gloom and Doom split up, too.
Xiajiang. He is sooooooooooo good at being evil. But evil in this chillingly, logical, smooth way.

It seems quite clear that Xiajiang does not like Prince Yu one bit. The way he always eyes him just speaks of his disdain for him. But of course, Prince Jing is a danger to him, because he is too good, which makes siding with Prince Yu a good option. What is Xiajiang's exact relationship with Banruo though? If he knows her Shifu, does he also know of her mission?
But would he allow her to operate if he knew that? He's supposed to keep things straight. Oooh, maybe he welcomes it, thinking he can put her down and make himself look good. Like the fireman who sets fires so he can be a hero, you know?
There's got to be more to it than that. Xiajiang strikes me as someone who wants power. And lots of it. And he's not going to stop until he gets it.