Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 38 (Recap)

kakashi: "This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more." Nooooooo, Mei Changsu! Don't listen! Don't take any pills! Don't doooooo iiiiiit!
JoAnne: I have to keep reminding myself it's too soon for either of these men to die or else I get so anxious I have to look away.
Eleanor: Crap, oh crap. Oh crap. Noooooooooooo!!!!!

Episode 38

Mei Changsu claims Wei Zheng has left the Capitol, but Xiajiang does not believe him. He has positioned his men everywhere, nobody gets out without him seeing it! Besides, Wei Zheng is severely injured and cannot walk. Everything that could contain a sick man, even coffins! have been thoroughly checked in the last few days. And yet, out he is, Mei Changsu insists … in fact, helped by Xuanjing Bureau’s own people. Say what?
Look at those expressions... I'm laughing all over again. Xiajiang off-balance is hilarious. It's what's so great about this show - it's all ha, ha, ha until boom! you're so nervous you can't breathe.
Man, my fingers started cramping up with tension just thinking about this scene again. It's like a dance with a venomous snake that Mei Changsu is doing right now, and it's causing my blood pressure to rise and my heart to beat faster!
And Xiajiang remembers… very recently, Xiachun prepared a few things for his severely sick father-in-law, to send with his wife and son (seeing how he cannot leave the Bureau himself in such turbulent times). Xiajiang does not believe Mei Changsu initially, but Mr. Su has some additional info to convince him: one of Xiachun’s wife nephews? Indebted to him and Jiangzuo Alliance. Hehehe. Trying to capture Wei Zheng now is completely futile, he is long gone.
For a minute there I thought Xia Chun was part of them - that would have have been an awesome reveal!
Muahahahahahaha! I love that Mei Changsu totally used one of Xia Jiang's men. Hahahahahahaha.
In the meantime, Yujin is visiting Prince Ji again … it is about Prince Jing’s confinement. The Bureau claims he was involved in the Wei Zheng case, but Yujin has "noticed" something important: the “Wanted” posters around the city. Isn't that the dude they saw outside the window when they looked out by chance? Yes, it definitely is! And he was with Xiadong, not Prince Jing! Prince Ji is adamant he needs to go talk to his brother the Emperor about this. As he enters the Palace, Mei Changsu's men go alert General Meng (YAY! We haven't seen him in a long time).
Thaaaaaat's what that was about. (and yay! Meng!)
*dances with glee* I love seeing the plan unfold!!! But I'm still so tense. This drama is like a rollercoaster of emotion and tension for me. 
Back at the Bureau, Mei Changsu asks Xiajiang why he thinks he never ran or tried to hide even though he knew he’d come for him. It’s because he has no fear, and Xiajiang cannot do anything really bad to him, because his friends are much too powerful. But the thing is this: he will still tell him everything he wants to know, because his body will not be able to withstand any of the “interrogation techniques” of the Bureau. But that will not really be useful to Xiajiang, seeing how he must be afraid of Mei Changsu getting to talk to the Emperor directly (which will happen if something really juicy is revealed). For Xiajiang, this would mean: he's f**cked.
It gets a little twisty here and I kept stopping (nerves) so I'm looking forward to revisiting.
I love Mei Changsu. No I adore him. He has Xia Jiang on tenterhooks here. I also love how he's like: yeah, I can't withstand torture, so I'll just tell you everything. He's so cheeky. I love it. 
Like an unruly kid, lol. Imagine having him in your classroom
But Xiajiang goes and uses his force on Mei Changsu, pressing and twisting his hand really painfully so that he falls to his knees. What a bully! He reminds him who is in who's power - and then demands to know why he chose Prince Jing. Oh, how easy: because he’s the best among the brothers, Mr. Su answers. But why did he choose at all? Why did he not enjoy his life as the leader of the most powerful sect, but came to the Capitol to meddle?
Getting a bit too close to the center of the Tootsie Pop, Xiajiang...
*hisses* kill Xia Jiang now! Ugh. LEAVE. MEI. CHANGSU. ALONE. NOW. 
He must know why he is here, says Mei Changsu - and Xiajiang confirms, yes, because he is the Divine Talent, and “he who has you will have the world”. But Xiajiang does no longer believe Mr. Su just came because he could not refuse the Crown Prince or Prince Yu. It must be something else… fame and fortune? A high rank? Power? To be remembered throughout the ages? Or ….. something else entirely? Something that can only be achieved with Prince Jing’s help? STOP, Xiajiang. You are getting too close to the truth!
See? He can't figure it out yet! He can't!
*pauses typing* so. much. tension. so. much. 
This is what's bugging Xiajiang: Why would someone as intelligent as Mei Changsu try to free Wei Zheng, something extremely dangerous and with low success rate? Mei Changsu sighs dramatically as he says, still truthfully, that he simply couldn't stop Prince Jing. So he did his best to help him - at the same time ensuring Prince Jing would trust him even more. In addition ... he was confident that even if he chose the worst of all methods, he could still beat Xiajiang. Xiajiang goes: how dare you! You're still my prisoner! And Mei Changsu says: Am I? Only because I wanted to come. Actually, I just want to see how long you can keep me and how you'd treat me. Ahahahahaaa.
It's not smart to poke a bear, Mei Changsu.
Mei Changsu, I'm just going to trust you that you know what you're doing by provoking this devil. 
Xiajiang asks Mei Changsu whether he's afraid of death - of course he is, his counterpart says. Xiajiang pulls a vial from his belt, from which he shakes a pill. It's poison, he informs his prisoner, the infamous "Wujing pill". It becomes effective seven days after ingestion - so Mei Changsu will have seven days to take the antidote. Mei Changsu guesses that he will be forced to take it before seeing the Emperor - to ensure he cooperates.
Clever! Evil..but clever.
Ooh. That is clever. Please tell me that he anticipated something like this. Please. 
That's really clever, Mei Changsu says, but what if he isn't at all interested in the antidote? What if he is ready to die? What if he still revokes his testimony in front of the Emperor? Well ... Xiajiang has other means... some form of telekinesis martial arts technique (he's like some X-man, this dude!). And he will use it against Mei Changsu if necessary. Nobody will be able to trace it to him.
But is that stuff really real? wouldn't it be cool?
Eeek! Ugh! Noooooo! They HAVE to be able to outsmart Xia Jiang. They have to. I'm really hoping that his downfall with be particular long and terrible. 
That is bullshit, Mei Changsu smiles, he knows his martial arts. Oh, but he will have taken the Wujin pill by then, which means he will be weak and can be killed that way, Xiajiang replies. And he will not be implicated. They will think he has committed suicide. Well, GREAT. Mei Changsu looks quite pensive all of a sudden and says, well, it seems he has to die then. No! Don't die!!!!
One of them has to blink eventually.
Please don't die Mei Changsu. Not now. Not yet. 
Mr. Su thinks about "the proposal" for over ten minutes after that. He seems indecisive, afraid ... and then tells Xiajiang to give him the pill. When Xiajiang wants to shove it down his throat, he insists on eating it himself. He puts it towards his mouth and .... asks whether it's bitter. Haha. 
In a world where you can flick a finger and a light blows out across the room I have full faith that a smart man can do sleight of hand. He did not take that pill.
I'm sure Xia Jiang will make sure that he takes the pill. He isn't going to allow any sleight of hand this one. He's too clever for that. 
Xiajiang tells him to stop delaying - no one will come and save him. Ah, but if someone does? Mei Changsu says. He will delay as much as he can. He does not want to become Xiajiang's puppet, whom he seems to have underestimated, he continues. If he'd known that, he'd not have waited for him to be picked up. He is totally enjoying this, isn't he :D
It does seem that way, which means he has to have anticipated every move.
Right?! He HAS to be able to beat Xia Jiang. He HAS to! 
As it is, Mei Changsu has a question for Xiajiang too. He asked him before why he came to meddle in the murky affairs of throne succession, but what about Xiajiang himself? Xuanjing Bureau is traditionally unaligned and the Emperor fully trusts Xiajiang. Why get involved? Why the huge risk to lure in Prince Jing? Xiajiang gives an evasive answer, but Mei Changsu knows it's a lie ... in fact, he knows exactly why Xiajing is doing what he's doing: He is afraid of Prince Jing. Just as he was afraid of Prince Qi. Because he once planned to dissolve the Bureau, and would have, had he become Emperor, realizing it was too powerful. And Jing? He outright hates Xiajiang and his institution. Because he knows what Xiajiang did back then. Dun-dun.
So he really is the Big Bad here, then. It all started with him.
Man. This man is awful. I also love that Xia Jiang really seems to be afraid of Mei Changsu. Quake in your boots you devil. Quake! 
Now, Xiajiang GETS it.... he knows why Mei Changsu came to the Capitol! To avenge Prince Qi! But who is he?! A former household member of Prince Qi? Just an admirer, Mei Changsu claims, but Xiajiang slams him to the ground and then forces the pill down his throat. He admits to being afraid of Mei Changsu - he now just wants him to die.
Don't panic. It's not the same pill. Or else...can you take an antidote first? Remember that berry?
I hate Xia Jiang with a burning passion. 
And I with an ever burninger passioner
While all this is going on, Prince Ji has told his brother about what he saw, which immediately raises the Emperors suspicion, as planned. He sends his Eunuch to fetch Meng Zhi - whom he orders to fetch Xiadong, but secretly, and so that she cannot interact with anybody, especially not Xiajiang.
And why NOT Xiajiang, hmmm?
Ooh! Is the Emperor getting suspicious of Xia Jiang too?! I guess that's something that happens when you are as paranoid as the Emperor. 
It seems she didn't get the memo, though, cause she suddenly appears where Mei Changsu is being mistreated by Xiajiang. He thought she was still locked up? Haha. Nope. And she saw it all ... everything he did. And she heard it all ... everything that was said.
Was this simply a fortuitous coincidence? I can't call it happy, but it does work in Mei Changsu's favor.
Please take Mei Changsu away Xia Dong. Take him away somewhere where they can find an antidote and save him from Xia Jiang's clutches. 
He plays the "Daddy is so disappointed by your actions"- card, but Xiadong is just sad. So, so sad that her shifu has come to this. She falls to her knees and begs him to give Mei Changsu the antidote. This is wrong! This is not what the Bureau stands for! Now, her two "siblings" arrive, super confused at Xiajiang's angry behavior. They are told to lock her up again, this time for good ... and before she leaves, her eyes meet Mei Changsu's ... and he nods, with a faint smile.
Curious to know what that's about...I'm not entirely sure the event was planned but it could have been.
I just got emotional watching that little nod. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay *rocks back and forth*. How did I survive watching this the first time? 
When they're just dragging Xiadong to her room, General Meng arrives. She is to come to an audience to the Emperor, without any delay. When the Emperor asks her where she was on the day in question she lies that she went to her husband's grave. She keeps lying for a bit, but when the pressure mounts, she admits to being in that alley with Wei Zheng. Ha!
Well there you go, Jing has to be set free now.
I'm actually kind of looking forward to how this is going to play out. 


So, the big question is ... did Mei Changsu really ingest the poison? Or did he maybe switch the pills? Xiajiang did turn his back there for a while, didn't he... Whatever happened with the pill(s), I want Xiajiang DOWN already. My hate for him grows by the minute and as much as I enjoyed the battle of these two men, it was painful to watch him hurt Mei Changsu.
I vote pill switching. Sadly, though, I cannot agree with you that Xiajiang needs to go down now. I want him along until the end - he's been such a good opponent, they'd have a hard time topping it and I don't want the rest of the drama to suffer for it.
I wouldn't mind Xia Jiang gone - it's a visceral thing. I understand the need to keep him around for the story's sake, but there's a part of me that wonders how Mei Changsu manages to hold back and not disembowel Xia Jiang on the spot. 

The drama keeps us guessing as to what is orchestrated by Mei Changsu, or rather, why it is orchestrated in this specific way. The poisonous pill, the delay, the fiddling around with the pill, Xiadong's appearance, and Xiadong's summons ... what is being played here? He seems on top of things for the most part, but whatever he is planning is always cooking so slowly. Does he have enough time? I do worry for Mei Changsu, I really do! This is not the first time he puts himself in grave danger and it's always hard to watch, because while I think he has it under control, we also know that he does NOT have full control over his body.
He could die at any minute! What happens then?
Keep calm and trust Mei Changsu. We really do need T-shirts.