28 March 2016

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Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 31 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on March 28, 2016
Mei Changsu continues to be gravely ill and the world around him starts disintegrating while he sleeps, as Prince Yu shows us what he is capable of.
Oh, that tricky man! They are clever, our bad guys.
I want Su to get better, but I also want him to not be asleep while the bad guys are so tricksy!

Episode 31

While the evil fookers are still plotting to drive a wedge into the beautiful bromance, Mei Changsu is still ailing (though able to sit up). And Physician Yan is adamant: he is not allowed to do anything. Just rest. No visitors. The end. His retainers emphasize that nothing is going on anyway, nothing at all. Seriously. Believe it. It's a small victory, when Mei Changsu settles down to sleep some more.
I often wonder why they don't adjust his make up to make him look ill.
Maybe they thought the contrast of bouncy Hu Ge sitting so still was enough of a contrast :) Also, I want to pinch Fei Liu's cheeks. That kid is adorable. 
Cut to a group of travellers (it's Wei Zhen, the ex-Chiyan Army guy!) in the forest - and a group of armed men (from the Bureau) laying in ambush. Wei Zhen is alert though, and realizes seconds before the attack that something isn't right (they're using bombs in the ground! First use of landmines?). He and a few of his men manage to escape on foot, but they don't get far before the Xuanjing guys start slaughtering them in a hail of arrows and then close in on Wei and the few men that remain.
This was quite the action-packed scene! I love watching men tumble through the air but I always get worried about the horses.
I also get worried about the horses. 
An officer we have not met yet appears on horse back (but we know that this must be Xiaqiu (Sui Shu Yang) and tells Wei that they know who he truly is. It's easy: he can come with them and his men will live or he can offer resistance and everybody will die. Of course, Wei is a good guy and commands his soldiers to leave and report to his father-in-law.
I already like this guy.
Me too! I really love how the direction/editing/writer already helps you like a character so much so quickly in this drama.
Snow is falling heavily in the Capital when General Meng makes his way to Mei Changsu's house, to say goodbye - or rather, to just look at him. He is leaving the city to accompany the Emperor to the tomb. It's only for five days, but Meng feels uneasy... and indeed, Mei Changsu is more gravely ill than ever before.
Ahhh, my Meng. So tender-hearted.
Meng. Su. There is so much tension in this seemingly peaceful situation of Su sleeping. 
After Daddy has left for the tomb-guarding, Prince Yu goes to his mother the Empress and asks her to go search Consort Jing's medicine cabinet. Not to find anything, just to give her a little trouble. However, Prince Yu knows that the Empress will also face some difficulty afterward, exactly for causing this trouble ... but that is all part of his plan. A secret plan, because he does not divulge any of his intentions. Of course, his mommy promises to support him whatsoever.
Please backfire please backfire please backfire
I want to stab him with little sharp forks doused in acid Please backfire please backfire please backfire please backfire
He attempts to find out more about his birth-mother while they're at it, but it seems the Empress knows almost nothing about Concubine Xiang. She only knows that the Emperor courted her outside the palace and that she lived outside the capital. The Emperor never speaks about her. Hmm... so who was Concubine Xiang?
Immediately we all realize she was NOT some low-ranking strumpet he used and tossed aside. Hmmm. But then again... why would Daddy not favor the son of someone he adored?
Curiouser and curiouser. I bet this is going to be super important. 

In the Capital, a carrier pigeon brings word from Xiaqiu - and while Xiachun has the opportunity, he asks his shifu about the missing Xiadong, and then begs the Elder to please not be upset with her. He is perceptive, this one, I've always liked him! But Xiajiang laughs and says not to worry, just let her wander about for a bit.
Except didn't you see that look in Xiajiang's eye? I think now he will wonder about her when he wasn't before, perhaps.
I also want to stab him with little sharp forks doused in acid Xiajiang is scary. Like super scary and yet he seems so normal and not the genius, evil mastermind that he is. 
Time to give Consort Jing some trouble then: the Empress goes to see her at her palace and starts searching all her medical supplies for poison. And of course, they find some potentially dangerous herb. And claim that Consort Jing made soup from this for the Emperor. Yawn. And even though everybody knows how stupid this is, the Empress orders Consort Jing to be confined and her palace to be locked-down.
I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's more to it than this.
Do NOT mess with Consort Jing! Do NOT! Argh! This was all so incredibly frustrating. Incredibly! *gnashes teeth*
The next step, says Prince Yu, is to actually let one of the maids go. So she can deliver a message. That happens (yes, it's the über-cute one named Xiaoxin), she flees and "by chance" meets a friendly eunuch who suggests they must immediately inform Prince Jing. He has it all figured out and the maid follows him outside, in search for Prince Jing.
Hmmm. Is she with them? Is she loyal? That eunuch looked too cute to be evil...
I think I am going to need to buy lots of forks and acid Why is it that these people are so willing to hurt Consort Jing? Argh! I know why, but still. Argh! 
... who isn't in the Capital, as we all know. His capable Commander Lie is uncertain where to find Prince Jing exactly, so he orders General Qi to ride for the Tomb and let his Majesty know. Miss Xiaoxin insists she must go too.
Now I'm very curious. Is this what Yu wants, or is this his plan unravelling?
I bet Yu has some tricky something up his sleeve. Stop Yu! 
Mei Changsu has passed the most critical phase in his illness ... but will he be strong enough for what's about to come?! Someone is knocking at his Mansion door, using a Yaowang Valley secret signal! It's one of Wei Zheng's men, who was smart enough to run to Mei Changsu instead of going back to the Valley. Mei Changsu is still unconscious, but his two men are quick on the uptake that this must be a plan against Prince Jing.
Hmmm. A two-pronged approach, Yu? I hope you are overestimating your own cleverness! I know you have Xiajiang with you, though. That doesn't bode well.
And that's the part that worries me. Xiajiang is one devious, tricky bastard, and any time he is involved there is pain and suffering. Argh! Fei Liu though is love. Look at that face!
They decide not to tell their Chief, who is too weak, even though (or actually because) him and Wei Zheng have a very strong bond, seeing how they both escaped the massacre together. Instead, they want to discuss this with Mr. Shisan (I don't think that's a good idea :(((. Just then, General Lie is announced. When it rains, it pours...... Zhen Ping tells him they can't do anything beyond what they have already done: going to the emperor is the smartest thing.
What's wrong with Mr. Shisan?
Not telling Su, I meant.
*cries with frustration* this scene was so painful to watch unfold. You can just see a million things unravelling and about to go wrong! TALK TO GENERAL LIE!!!
Also, elsewhere, masked men assault Tonglu. He fights well, but there are too many. When they have him on the ground, Banruo appears. Look who's showing her hand!
I guess it's goodbye Tonglu, then...
Oh crap! Oh crap! Seriously! This is such a well-devised plan, but it's hurting all the people I love!
On their breakneck journey to the Tombs, Miss Xiaoxin falls off her horse. Nothing is broken, but it has made them stop and that seems to have been the intention: A man appears in front of them, claiming to be a member of the Jiangzuo Alliance. He tells them they should return immediately, as per Mei Changsu's order. They should just let Consort Jing suffer a bit. The more she suffers, the bigger the punishment for the Empress will be once the Emperor returns, he adds. Well, he is quite adamant they shouldn't tell anyone and even takes out General Qi when he doesn't want to listen. Who is this guy?! What game is being played here?!
Ohhhhhh, I get it. This guy won't be from Mei Changsu, you watch.
He is totally Yu's man. Argh! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I'm getting so worked up even while commenting. Argh! Ack! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!
They have Tonglu bound, bleeding, but unafraid. Until Banruo brings in his "Jun Niang" and puts a knife on her throat. "Save me, Tonglu!" she begins to scream. To his credit, he disn't give up any information immediately. But when Banruo starts to draw (a little tiny bit of) blood, he confesses.... he works for Miaoyin Dance House. Mr. Shisan. Ohhhhhhhhh, smart!!!
Ah, clever man. Confess something, but in such a way that alerts others to danger. I would expect no less from Mei Changsu's men.
Okay, Tonglu totally rocked this scene. I really hope he doesn't screw things up more though. 
Soldiers rush to arrest the man, but the Dance House is empty. He is in fact meeting Zhen Ping somewhere, reporting about how Xiaqiu took a detour around the territory controlled by the Jiangzhuo Alliance, which means their hands are bound. On the upside, this buys them some time, right? Once he's in the dungeons, it will be much tougher to do anything though. Zhen Ping decides they must attack as soon as they enter the Capital. Just then, Miss Gong appears and tells them about the soldiers, whom she recognized as Prince Yu's men.
Wow, she's still around?
Ah! So much tension. Ah! 
 
Seeing that Tonglu has not been seen today and knowing that Miaoyin House is just an empty decoy now, they quickly piece the pieces together. Tonglu has been compromised! Well, Banruo knows by now that Miaoyin House was deserted and attempts to press more info out of Tonglu - but he plays his part really well. Of course Mr. Shisan would have realized that something is wrong, he says, because Banruo held him, Tonglu, for too long. Reached a dead-end there, Banruo?
Ah, Banruo. You are clever, but only just a little. And you have no imagination.
Way to go Tonglu! Of course MCS would choose someone awesome! He always does!
Miss Xiaoxin is back in the palace, and we see that the alleged Jiangzuo Alliance person is in fact Prince Yu's man. I HATE YOU! Yes, of course, to hear that Mr. Su said to let his mother "suffer" would make Prince Jing very angry. Yu thinks that all his evil seeds have been planted, and seeing that the Emperor is returning soon, Consort Jing can be released. And be prepared for Daddy's anger, mommy.
This should be interesting.
*cries* 

Comments

What a clever episode. With Mei Changsu out of the picture due to his grave illness, we are left to worry ourselves sick over this evil plotting on Prince Yu's part. I mean, we know by now that he is a dangerous and smart man. But we've also seen him being fooled a lot due to his vanity mainly. What is he really capable of in terms of planning?! I don't know! If only Mei Changsu were awake and consulted... he would most certainly see through him and outsmart him.
But I can't help thinking that Mei Changsu would have foreseen a situation where they'd try to drive a wedge between him and Jing and that he'd have some sort of plans in place to counteract that. You know, in a generic sort of way. 
But he totally can't counter anything while he's asleep, ill, and with his men telling him nothing. It's a recipe for disaster. 

But he isn't awake and his men are trying their best to handle the situation. We have seen that they are smart and capable, but is it enough?! No, of course not. The "Consort Jing"-plot seems to be going exactly like Prince Yu wants it to go ... at least so far. Damn, this makes me uneasy. 
It's okay. Any losses here will be recovered, Kakashi! Have faith!
I'm just as worried. I think I might need a hug anticipating what's to come.

And then, we have Banruo and her specific agenda. Well, sorry to say sister, but Tonglu got the better of you. I didn't expect this of him and now feel sorry for doubting him so much. It was nicely done and is obviously another indicator of how thoroughly and well Mei Changsu chooses his trusted men. Tonglu made a grave mistake in trusting this "poor" woman that suddenly appeared in his life, but he managed to dampen the blow to his organization despite his fears for her. Does he suspect something?
Or...did he ALWAYS suspect something?
I don't know if he always suspected something, but he was awesome in this episode.

Overall, this episode leaves us in a very bad place... when Mei Changsu wakes up, he will find the world around him changed. And very dangerous.
Meanwhile, Fei Lui continues to be adorable. So there's that, at least.
I guess it makes the narrative so much more interesting if our good guys are at such a disadvantage, but it's not good for my heart. Healing time: Fei Liu! Flowers! 

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