Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 34 (Recap)

It's act and counter-act in Nirvana in Fire, and while our friends struggled so much in the last few episodes, they find time to regroup and counterstrike now. We are left in the dark about the details of their plan, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome. Yes, I'm still worried. But hey, Mei Changsu is back. 
JoAnne: For an episode in which nothing much happens, this one positively flew by - so many small things coming together!
Eleanor: This drama is masterful at making it seems like small details are small, but are in actual fact major twists, turns, and cogs upon which the story turns. Amazing! I love it!

Episode 34

Everybody is waiting for Xiadong, yay (me too, cause I like her!). Mei Changsu knows where she will be on the fifth day after New Year: her husband's grave on the mountain. And before that, she'll come back to the Capital - he has eyes on her. But here's the deal: Prince Jing thinks he should go and talk to her, not Mei Changsu, whom she associates with faction fights and, he seems to imply, lies and nastiness. Su makes a cynical remark about indeed just being a schemer, without any sincerity, but I think he is truly fed-up with Jing flat-out refusing to believe he could mean well.
It's funny to me that he can read people so clearly and yet this, the one thing he should have absolutely anticipated - this is the thing that frustrates him.
Oh, I'm pretty sure he knew, but he just knows it's part and parcel of dealing with my favourite water buffalo. It's not like Prince Jing has a spectacularly great relationship with Xiadong either though. I don't know why he thinks he would be better than Su to talk to her. 
And Jing makes it worse by saying how he and her can relate to the sadness, while Mei Changsu cannot. Su swallows the bitter pill without a word, but I'm sure now that he is hurt. When he thanks Prince Jing for helping out, there's an awkward moment - Jing does not understand where that is coming from (and I don't either) - but Meng quickly brings up Fei Liu, who is nowhere to be seen. It seems he is in the backyard, playing with Ting Sheng, it seems. Prince Jing remembers to be gracious and thanks Su for being Ting Sheng's tutor. But Mei Changsu seems listless now, broody. Just leave him alone, Jing.
Mei Changsu responded with Lin Shu's heart. Of course it would seem odd to Jing, who is a doofus water buffalo and doesn't know his friend.
Seriously. Little Water Buffalo is going to kick himself later. *sigh* These two. A constant source of heartache for me. 
That night, the Royal Astronomer sees something inauspicious in the skies. It's a scarlet light that shines upon Polaris (which represents the Emperor). This is read to mean that the time has come to chose a new Crown Prince (eventually). The old one is demoted to Prince of Xian and is to leave the Capital immediately, banished. Jingyan gets gets more pearls and the 7 Pearl Crown (he is now Prince Yu's equal). And Prince Yu gets ... nothing. Ahahahahaaaaaa.
Sucks to be Yu.
He has a little hissyfit with Banruo. So, at the Year End Festival, the rituals will be performed with "twin noble princes", not a new Crown Prince, haha. Banruo thinks it's all good, the Emperor awarding Jing is actually "a warning" for the Wei Zheng thing. Uhm.... no. That doesn't sound right. But Yu is all happy to hear that explanation.
I really, really, really do not follow that logic. Glad I'm not the only one!
The Emperor just probably thinks he's going to live forever and he's going to pit his sons against each other like fighting roosters or something. 
And then, the one who helped the maid out of the palace dies of a sudden illness. Fie, you evil people. And Xiaoxin isn't well either ... but it's just a cold, it seems. Consort Jing fondles a root of sorts as she thinks about things... wait a minute ... hmmmmm...
I thought those were hazelnut shells...
They don't look like hazelnut shells...but well, they're something. 
Fei Liu is stuffing himself with sweets in the meantime. I'm glad to see Mei Changsu happily doting on him. But then, Zhen Ping brings word that that Xiadong has returned and Su stops smiling. It begins... the arrow has been strung. Will they succeed? Su does not know. Their enemy Xiajiang is one sly fox and he is unsure of what the right choice in this matter is. Only Fei Liu does not care at all - as long as there are sweet ... and dumplings for New Year's Eve! 
I could go for some dumplings. Oooh, or a steamed pork bun. I'd rather have the pork bun. Yes. *cries* 
Mmmm. I think I will go eat some dumplings for lunch tomorrow. There's a lovely little place near work. 
For the festivities, the royal family is gathered in the hall and the Emperor is awarding dishes to different houses. But suddenly, he merrily tells Jingyan to organize the rest. Out of the blue and to Prince Yu's utter shock (so I'm guessing this is a special honor). Heheheeee, I have much Schadenfreude.
These dishes. Are they actually dishes of food, but particularly associated with luck or wealth or something? If you're there celebrating and the Emperor gives you a dish, is that the only thing you get to eat? If he doesn't give you anything, do you just sit there hungry, or maybe have a glass of water or something? Does he ever give more than one dish? Do people give him dishes? (thank you, our wise commenters, in advance!)
Yes, thank you wise commenters! Every time Jingyan gets more power and status, I am equal parts proud and the also really nervous that the bad guys are going to do something horrid to him.
After the fireworks, Xiachun and Xiaqiu decide to play a game of Go together, thinking Xiadong went to bed already ... but she is in the dungeons, paying Wei Zheng a visit. She brought him something to eat and keeps him, who calls her "sister-in-law", some company. Oh no... Xiajiang watches them.
Oh dear. Well, we knew that this was his trap...
*sigh* I really hate Xiajiang so much. 
The maid's in Consort Jing's palace are all happily celebrating, except for Xiaoxin, who is still sick ... And I'll be damned! She steals away from the festivities to go and meet with... 4th Sister. And I'll be damned even more, she is working directly for Xiajiang!! (Wait ... is he of the Hua-tribe too?) So she deliberately enraged Prince Jing the other day - and the rest is history. Wow, she really fooled me. Jun Niang has a heavy heart and she warns the young one to do a bare minimum in this operation so that she can step away from her spy activities after this, but I don't think Xiaoxin gets what she's saying.
*grins happily to self*
Yeah. She's horrid. I really don't like her. At all. 
Fei Liu is having fun lighting fireworks in the yard, when Zhen Ping tells his Chief that everything is ready. Mei Changsu gives the order to "act now". And we see how a masked person enters a heavily guarded house. That person, we find out the next day, is a thief and he robbed the Ministry of Rites' Phoenix pearl and two other Officials' houses. Apparently, he has a distinctive style, like the Taihang thieves of Wuzhou. Prince Jing, who reports about this to the Emperor, thinks they are now active in the Capital. As the one in charge of the Capital Patrols, he is responsible for catching the thieves.
Well this is interesting.
So many plot lines! It would be really interesting to create a tapestry of all the intersecting, seemingly small plot threads, and then step away, and see it all as a marvelous plan and beautifully woven story.
Immediately, the Capitol Patrols swarm out and reinforce many strategic points in the city. Xiajiang drily comments that they seem to place most of the men around the Xuanjing Bureau. Legally, under the Emperor's orders. Xiajiang is quite pleased that Prince Jing is finally doing something. 
Like a spider waiting in his web. Only evil. I may not like to be near spiders, but they're not evil. They're just doing their thing. This guy is evil.
Like crazy super evil. I'm super excited and nervous for this plan to play out. 
Consort Jing returns to her palace after the New Year festivities. Her maids chatter happily how much in favor with the Emperor she is and how the Empress was green with envy. Apparently, Prince Jing stopped by and kowtowed three times outside in her absence before he had to leave on important business, which makes her smile.
That little bit I didn't understand. He was at the same festivities. He'd know where she was.
I think this would have been after the official festivities and because she was probably with the Emperor afterwards, he couldn't wait for her at her quarters for too long. 
She then pretends to be tired and sends all the maids away (Xiaoxin eyes her suspiciously). She is not taking a nap like she said though, but goes into the back room, where she has a little shrine for Consort Chen, hidden within a cabinet. Waaaaaaait a minute ... the Emperor allowed this, didn't he!
It seems like this would be a fatal offense on her part, so I'm guessing she wouldn't do it without his permission...but it also seems to be quite a secret within her household so I'm not sure.
He asked her to do it, but if someone catches her, it's still a crime. So it's super dangerous and has to be done in secret. There's no guarantee the Emperor would protect if she is found out. 
After an hour of "napping", her maids ready her - and she mentions to Xiaoxin that Consort Hui looked ill, so she will go see her afterwards. Xiaoxin is also still coughing (hmmmm), so Consort Jing lets her rest at home. As soon as Consort Jing has left, Xiaoxin starts searching her room. Fie! Do we know what she's looking for? Anyway, she is eventually finding her way into the backroom, where she finds the cabinet and the memorial tablet. Oh no. Or oh yes?
I think it's a trap.
*bites fingernails*
At Consort Hui's (she has a son who always smiles named Jingting), Consort Jing gives her some pills against her nightly heartburn and not much later, they start talking about grandchildren. Consort Hui thinks she doesn't have enough, and when Consort Jing says she doesn't have any either, they discuss how Prince Jing's long absences and lack of wives (he only "has" one concubine) isn't helping much with the issue. Before she leaves, Consort Jing asks to see and thank the eunuch who helped Xiaoxin - Consort Hui seems surprised. So what .... he isn't dead after all?
I guess we will find out!
Poor Jingyan. His first wife died and he's apparently not so into his concubine. Since he has been pretty neglected, there probably wouldn't have been much support for another wife to be chosen for him. It's not like he has too much say in who he can marry. And about the eunuch, I think we know he's dead, but Consort Jing doesn't yet.
Mei Changsu visits Marquis Yan, with a request for him and his son. We don't hear what it is (boooo), but Yujin thinks it's something that is hard to accomplish. His father says he will do whatever it takes, even though he does not like Mei Changsu one bit. He is deeply impressed by Prince Jing's decision to free the captured Wei Zheng, even though they fully understand the risks. He has not seen anyone so foolish and so courageous for a long time.
That surprised me, that he doesn't like Mei Changsu. I didn't really get that impression when they met.
I think he just doesn't really trust him. 
Marquis Yan explains to his son why he has faith in Prince Jing (cause of his big bro, Prince Qi) and then, Yujin talks about some things he has not forgotten about the people now dead: Uncle Lin, Consort Chen, and Prince Qi. He remembers Prince Qi being very patient with the little ones - not like Lin Shu gege, who was very impatient and thought they were annoying and dumb. Jingrui liked him in particular though.
I do wish we could have had an episode at least with them back when they were kids up to the point of that battle.
I really wish we could. All the happy parts of their childhood would be so lovely to see. So lovely. 
In the meantime, Xiaoxin has found an excuse to leave Consort Jing's palace - and scurries over to the Empress' place. So you are going to tell on Consort Jing, huh, you evil wench? I hope it backfires!!
Oh it better, that little traitor.
It had better backfire! 


Are we back on track with the revenge plan? Probably not - or is Mei Changsu once again just seizing the moment, using Wei Zheng's capture as an opportunity to kick another one of his enemies to the curb? It would certainly give Xiajiang a good knock to the head, but DAMN, how will he be able to bring this one down? I can't wait.
I know, I'm so excited to see how this works out!
Me too! Me too! 

As I mentioned, Xiaoxin's true affiliation did take me by surprise. I suspected something was off during her little "prison break" a few episodes ago, but then, I thought she had just been used by Prince Yu for his evil plan and I forgot about my suspicions again. That she is one of the Hua-sisterhood... I really did not expect that at all! I am pretty sure Consort Jing suspects something by now though, given her reactions to the cough and other things. Good!
Yes, the Hua sisterhood piece was a big surprise to me, too.
Consort Jing is certainly not someone to mess with. 

Finally, I really hate it when Jingyan is nasty to Mei Changsu. It's so wrong TT_____________TT
I keep wondering if he finds out before or after Mei Changsu dies. No! I don't want to know~I just am wondering.
It really makes me want to shake Jingyan and tell him "Stop it silly Water Buffalo!" Let's hope he finds out before. If not, I will cry.