29 May 2016

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Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 39 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on May 29, 2016
kakashi: He is going down! He is going down! Xiajiang is going dooooooown!
JoAnne: Now I want to see My Meng in a historical Chinese drama about a detective who goes around solving crimes and his signature move is shoving his badge in people's faces but something always goes wrong so he practices in the mirror over and over.
Eleanor: LOL That would be awesome. 

Episode 39

When Xiajiang hears that General Meng came to take Xiadong, he knows he is in deep shit. FINALLY, he is going DOOOOOWN! He let her lead those rebels into the Bureau, didn't he. How will that look to the Emperor? Well, like he had her do it, of course. In the meantime, Xiadong - who claims to have killed Wei Zheng - faces the Emperor's wrath (everybody else in the room keeps saying "be calm, be calm, Emperor" and especially Prince Ji seems to have a mellowing effect on the despot). He indeed suspects it's all Xiajiang's doing, with the end goal to implicate Prince Jing -  all the more so when Xiadong vehemently insists she acted alone. 
JoAnne: I was giggling like a maniac through out the entire thing - it's so awesome that Mei Changsu has made HIS action look like Xia Jiang's, and Xia Jiang can't really prove it without revealing his own behavior. Not that I would put it past Xia Jiang to take that risk.
Muahahahahahahaha I LOVE MCS and how super intelligent he is. Hahahahahahaha YAAAAAAAASSSS!!!! Take down Xia Jiang - though he is a nasty viper so I'm sure he's probably got some nasty bite in there somewhere. Also the armour for those guards is AWESOME!!!
The Emperor orders General Meng to take the Imperial Guards and the Imperial Gold Seal to seize Xuanjing Bureau. Anyone who refuses to obey may be killed. Xiajiang (and Xiadong) are to be taken to the dungeons directly, the Emperor has no inclination of hearing Xiajiang's excuses. My Schadenfreude is through the roof, I tell you.
Go Meng! Do justice!
Yaaaasss!!! My Schadenfreude is too! Xia Jiang should have known better than to mess with the 70,000 spirits of the Chiyan Army, embodied in the genius of Mei Chang Su. And now all of a sudden I am tearing up at the loss of the brilliant young Lin Shu. 
At the Bureau, Xiajiang pretty much guesses what Xiadong is up to: The more she will defend him, the more suspicious the Emperor will become. Yup. I really, really love it that the Emperor's suspicion is biting Xijiang in the ass BIG TIME. Xiajiang is still fairly confident he will be able to convince the Emperor of his innocence once he gets the chance to talk to him (heheeee), but there is another big liability ... Mei Changsu! He cannot have a chance to talk to the Emperor! He must disappear. Noooooooo!
Well we definitely can't have THAT.
Oh Xia Jiang, the very same suspicious nature of the Emperor that allowed Xia Jiang to slaughter the Chiyan Army has become his downfall. We hope. Don't find a way to weasel out of this one! Why am I still so nervous?! Fricking Xia Jiang. 
Oh-so-diligent Xiachun rushes down to the dungeons, where Mei Changsu is suffering in the cold. The look on the officer's face tells Mei Changsu what this is about. But... isn't Xiachun in the least curious to know why his sister did what she did? Why would she betray her beloved shifu? No, Xiachun does NOT want to know ... he progresses to kill Mei Changsu (using some special martial arts?) when Xiaqiu appears, interrupting the procedure.
I feel a little bad for the guy, though. He has no idea what's really going on or that his boss is an actual dirtbag. I think.
Whatever the case - DON'T KILL MEI CHANG SU!!!
Outside, the Imperial Guards have arrived. There is some resistance from the Bureau's guards, but they stand no chance against General Meng (No. 2 on the Langya List for fighting skills). He makes his way to the inner areas of the Bureau, where he encounters Xiajiang. Who thinks he is being summoned. Nope, dude, you are NOT! You committed an "Unpardonable Crime" by framing a prince and you will go rot in jail for a bit.
I loved watching that confident look get wiped off Xia Jiang's face. He understimated the situation big time, and I think we're going to be seeing a lot of his 'what the hell?' face in the near future.
Meng Zhi to the rescue!!! Ah! I love him! 
Down in the dungeon, Xiaqui urges Xiachun to listen to what Mei Changsu has to say. But before he can say anything, a guard comes running, telling them all about their current predicaments. They rush out to see after their Shifu, but Xiachun stops short, remembering his orders. It's fine to be loyal, but does he really have to be stupid, too?! He attacks ... and gets stopped by Fei Liu, who, after a short fight, declares him "no fun". 
There is not enough Fei Lui in this drama, if you ask me. Not enough Fei Lui in the world, either.
There's really not enough of this drama in the world I think, but yes, definitely not enough Fei Liu. Su looks so ill! Quick! Get him some medicine and a hot water bottle. 
Xiajiang is in chains when Mei Changsu is led out of the dungeons. Of course, he has to go over to the older man and make some snide remarks. Xiajiang is shaking from anger and keeps reminding him he only has seven days. Or less, seeing how weak he already is! The others don't get it, Meng gets a little violent, but Mei Changsu is completely unfazed. I worry though ... he seems really ill again.
Maybe he's just acting that way to throw Xia Jiang off, though.
Keep calm and trust Mei Chang Su. That's what I'm going to tell myself over and over. Keep calm and trust Mei Chang Su. 
The Emperor is waiting for Meng's return when two Minister's are announced: Minister of Justice, Cai Quan and Minister of State Revenue, Shen Zhui. They have been digging further into the "illegal fireworks factory" case (despite it being a holiday) and have found out that the explosion was not an accident but a deliberate act. They have also found out that Prince Yu's brother-in-law, a high-ranking judge, is implicated. To be able to question him, they need a special royal permission, for which they have come before the Emperor today.
This was a terrific moment, for me. That was episodes ago, and nothing has been said about it since, but here are these two men calmly laying out all their work and bringing it right back into our minds. It feels like looking at a tapestry, or Bosch's triptych - no matter how many times you look, there is something else to see new. The parts of this world exist more fully than most, even when off screen.There's no feeling of 'okay, drop this thread, move on to the next.'
I think that is why it is such a fulfilling drama to watch. These people and their stories and their lives feel so real. It's as if you can sense them truly living when they aren't onscreen and the pace of their lives weaves in and out of the main narrative to create, as you say, a rich tapestry of events and stories. Each thread, each moment adds to the final masterpiece. I love it. 
Prince Yu is informed about the seizure of the Bureau and gets quite worried... Xiajiang might implicate him. In addition, his father might get suspicious on his own. Not much later, he is summoned to the Emperor indeed. He immediately starts defending himself as innocent in the Xuanjing Bureau case, even though the Emperor has actually just thrown Cai Quan's report about the firework factor at him.... suspicious, suspicious. When he sees what it says, he says he's innocent in this case too, even though his name isn't mentioned once. Get a grip, Prince! Cai Quan then asks for "a joint trial" by the three Judiciaries against Yu's brother-in-law, which Prince Yu tries to subtly (actually, not so subtly) sabotage.
Ha! He panicked - there was no time to discuss with his mother or his adviser. Left to his own devices, he's not all that much, is he?
And so his life starts to unravel. His part in the tapestry is not destined to be on final display. I actually really like this idea of Mei Chang Su being a master weaver - unpicking the threads of suspicion and corruption, the moral decay and frayed threads of bad government, and is instead choosing the brightest and most virtuous threads, Prince Jing and those who will advise him, to be a part of a glorious and excellent tapestry. Man, I really like this image. 
The Emperor gets more and more angry as Prince Yu keeps denying all involvement and ends up throwing a tea cup at his son's head. The sight of the blood that starts flowing down seems to mellow him a bit (and me too, especially since Prince Yu is actually crying now). The Emperor decides to revoke some of the judge's titles so that Cai Quan can question him. However, he also makes it clear that he wants this case closed quickly and without any noise. That is not in Cai Quan's interest at all (he knows that there's more to this), but Shen Zhui shuts him up in time.
Daddy will deal with his family mess quietly. Could he even afford another scandal? One son murdered as a traitor, the crown prince banished from the palace...it would look bad. Plus he'd have to deal with the Empress. I just thought of something: how will he feel when he finds out Prince Qi was innocent?
I don't think he really cares that much that Prince Qi was innocent. If he truly loved his son, he would have investigated more thoroughly, he would have double checked the evidence, he would have done more. I think that he felt threatened by Prince Qi and wanted no rivals. Even at this point he has played games, pitting son against son in the bid for the throne. It's as if he wants to keep them too busy plotting against each other so they don't think of offing dad early for the throne. 
Mei Changsu is spitting blood again.... Oh no. We learn that Wei Zheng is at "Mu Manor" (that's Nihuang's palace) and all the Valley People have left. Mr. Su gives a few instructions (like that Prince Jing should lay low for the time being and that Meng should go visit Xiadong in prison) and then falls into a coma, garnished by nightmares.
Is this the poison though, do you think? Or his own illness, kicked up a notch due to the hardship of the past few days? Or is the poison strengthening the disease? I don't suppose it matters. Never mind...I just spent a lot of time wondering about it but now I wonder why I even bothered, ha.
Haha. Well I can tell you but I don't think you want that. All those questions are exactly what the writer and producer want us to think about and ask and question and worry about. You will find out eventually, that much I can tell you. 
General Meng reports about the successful end of Operation Seize the Bureau and the Emperor shows us just how suspicious he is: he suspects that Xiajiang is hiding Wei Zheng somewhere to use him against Prince Jing again at a later stage. He probably is somewhere in Prince Jing's sphere of influence? If he's discovered, it will look like Jingyan is behind it. Again. The Emperor expresses great alarm and unease.... how could he ever have trusted Xiajiang? He tells Meng to go bring him paper and ink, have him reflect on his crimes, and then write down a confession. After everyone has left, he decides to pay Consort Jing a visit.
I loved that. Do you think that Mei Changsu saw that particular twist coming? That the Emperor would suspect that Wei Zheng wasn't actually rescued at all? Also - not for the first time, I think about Consort Jing's behavior. She's genuinely nice and caring toward the Emperor, and seems to feel sympathy for his emotional distress.  he's smart enough to realize he's a terrible Emperor and a good enough mother to know he's a terrible father, but she's also smart enough to realize the pressures the man must  be under. Do you think she genuinely cares for him, for her own self? Not just as the father of her son, or a man with power over her life, or the leader of her country? I do, I think. She either loves him or pities him. Not sure.
I don't. I think she is smart enough to know how to keep on his good side, or until this point in time, out of his notice, so that she can survive and find a way to keep Jingyan alive. I think it's been a case of self-preservation and trying to protect her son. I do think that she is genuinely a good person, and that goodness helps her take care of the Emperor and try and calm him. She is also by profession a doctor, so perhaps she is working to try and heal some of that poison that is within the soul of the Emperor. And to answer Kakashi's question - I think that Mei Chang Su probably has some sort of flow diagram where he accounts for all possible outcomes and probabilities and tries to make plans and back-up plans and back-up plans to all the back-up plans in case of any eventuality. He has been working out the outcome of this for over a decade. 
Prince Jing is informed that everything is settled. He hears that Mr. Su isn't doing too well ... and seems worried at that. Him and his General marvel at the strategist's intellect and cunning. The Emperor turned a blind eye to Prince Yu's wrongdoings and the Bureau's illegal actions, but he cannot tolerate the two working together and lying to him. How easily his father's favor is removed he knows all too well: his own brother went from favorite to dead within a very short time. As did Lin Shu.
*hands Eleanor a box of tissues*
Thank you. Jingyan and I will just sit here together and have a good cry about it all. 

Comments

I am so happy! This went so well, all things considered, wow. And yet, this episode showed us clearly how high the price is that Mr. Su has to pay for all of this. When Xiajiang yells "you only have seven days left" at him, he also says that "people have nothing when they're dead". We know that that is not true in Mei Changsu's case, because his end game is Prince Jing on the throne. That means his family's honor will be re-established and all the unjustly killed soldiers' too. It also means the kingdom will prosper.
Hang in there, Mei Changsu! I don't know the Chinese equivalent of 'Himnae!' but imagine it here. Or I could just say 'Be strong!' and be done with it...
Perhaps some "Jiayou! Jiayou!" [加油]would be appropriate (though that's more like the Korean -hwaiting!) He definitely needs some strength, that's for sure. I think that Xia Jiang is motivated by power and greed and a lust for the throne, so he cannot fully understand Mei Chang Su's motivation, and this causes him to underestimate MCS's moves. Of course, I don't doubt that Xia Jiang still has some tricks up his sleeve that he is willing to try. 

And yet, knowing that such a plan will end in one's death is bitter. You do all this and will not reap any of the benefits, unless you count the knowledge that there is a brighter future for today's children a benefit? How selfless do you have to be to go through with this! In Mei Changsu's case, I assume he is counting his "second life" blessing enough. He almost died and coming back for him never meant getting a second chance at life. It always meant giving his life to set things right.
I'm with you on that. I'm sure there's sadness knowing he can't ever go back to the way things were, but his 'second life' is being used in such a way that it's a blessing for him, so there must be some comfort in that. His prize is knowing it happens and that he brought it about. You know, when it does. It does, right? It does. It must.
There are a million things I want to say about this, but some of it would be spoilery. What I am going to say is that this second life is very much something that Mei Chang Su chose - to embody the 70,000 Chiyan Army's grievances and live on to fight for the restoring of their honour and justice, and to help the kingdom prosper. Oh this story! *reaches for another tissue*

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