Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 40 (Recap)

Once again it looks like the Prince Jing supporters have won an important battle and things are moving into the right direction. After the acute crisis, it is time to get some high running emotions in order. The one hit hardest by what is revealed is Prince Jing, who realizes that his mistrust almost cost him his most important ally.
Ahhhh, this was him in the secret passage, looking at the bell he cut down and feeling horribly embarrassed by his fit of temper...on behalf of Mei Changsu, I deeply appreciated this moment.
Eleanor: *fans self* I know this moment is really serious, but ladies, Wang Kai is fiiiiiiiiiiine!!!

Episode 40

Prince Yu is pensive and magnanimous ... he won't hold his wife and her family responsible for the mess he's in. "Winning or losing is fate", he proclaims. He was confident of victory after defeating the Crown Prince, but it took just one night to beat him thoroughly. He knows... this is it. There won't be another chance for him. The throne? He will never get it now.
And I'm right back to feeling sad about this guy. I know he was a bad guy but he was SOCLOSE to being a good guy. Again I'm reminded at how human everyone is in this world, how easy the writer makes it for you to understand what's going on inside even people you know are making bad choices, so that you feel something akin to empathy at times.
So true. We all have darkness within us. Who knows what we would be like given other circumstances. It also shows how people can be bad/evil and still show goodness or do good things. Humans are so complex and layered.
In the meantime, the two Ministers Cai Quan and Shen Zhui are having some aged wine at Shen Zhui's mansion. Cai gulps it down like it's water - he is so frustrated and disappointed about how the factory case was just handled by the Emperor, he wants to get drunk. The Emperor and the people around him care nothing for human life, nothing at all. The future of the country seems bleak ... if not for Prince Jing, whom Cai Quan is also supporting. But will he be able to persevere and win in this difficult situation?
I loved the face on the other guy, offering his precious wine and seeing it drunk that way.
Haha. That face. Priceless. It has to be incredibly frustrating to watch how slowly Mei Chang Su's plan unfolds. It's already been a year or so, right? 
The Emperor is squatting with Noble Consort Jing again, feeling sorry about what Jingyan had to go through. Consort Jing mentions that too much favor from the Emperor is bad for her son - and asks for less, and at the same time more leniency for her son's temper. The Emperor is in full agreement. He still cannot believe he almost fell for Xiajiang's evil scheming.
You aren't out of the woods yet, sir. I wouldn't go assuming you've got it all figured out.
Consort Jing. She is the bomb dot com. And yes, that phrase is completely dated. I think that something I really appreciate about her is how intuitively she knows how to handle the Emperor in a way that will benefit Mei Chang Su's plan and Jingyan. Well, it's more than intuition, she's one incredibly intelligent and analytical person. 
He also mentions Mr. Su as another victim of the incident. Consort Jing takes the opportunity to ask about Mr. Su (claiming the inner palace is curious about him too) and then to assure the Emperor her son and Mr. Su "aren't close" and even though the Emperor thinks Prince Jing should seek more advice from the scholar, she cautions against too much reliance. Sly. Time to think about Prince Jing as more than just a prince, the Emperor says. Hmmmmmm... also, he insists Prince Jing socializes with Mei Changsu and suggests his son should take the scholar on an upcoming hunting trip. Also present at that event: Consort Jing.
Why would you insist that a man in such fragile health go do something so vigorous?
She wants to meet him and confirm her suspicions is my guess. 
General Meng - looking splendid! - is following Mei Changsu's wishes and visits Xiadong in prison. Should we ship them a little? I'm halfway out the harbor, why are you even asking? I will admit that was definitely on this ship at multiple points in the drama. He tries to cheer her up, but that's difficult. Her life is entangled to the fullest with her shifu and her brother-colleagues. Her shifu is facing the death penalty. When Meng takes his leave, she asks him to convey to Sir Su and Prince Jing a message: she believes in them and their ability to bring justice to the dead. Also: don't worry about her.
Xia Dong! we have to find a way out of this for her and then she has to let the General go, right? And turn to Meng? What a guy! I certainly think he's the kind of man who wouldn't be jealous that a certain amount of her heart will always belong to her first husband.
Xia Dong is awesome! So awesome! I really love Meng's robes in this scene too. 
Right before Meng steps out, she remembers the Wujin poison in Mei Changsu's system and asks Meng whether it has been removed. Poor Meng had no idea! Sadly, Mei Changsu is doing very poorly. It's so bad that his physician says it doesn't matter whether they refuse all guests or not: Mei Changsu will not be conscious enough to speak to them anyway.
*reminds self drama still has hours to go and the lead can't possibly die yet*
Yeah, that's pretty much my consolation. They cannot possibly kill Mei Chang Su so early in the drama. There are still fourteen episodes to go. 
Per suggestion of the Emperor, Prince Jing is visiting his mother, who is different than usual. Less motherly, more political. She tells him she wants to know everything that has been happening outside the palace - after he has listened to a confession. Xiaoxin's, of course. And thus, Prince Jing learns of Princess Xuanji's long shadow and Xiajiang's evil plotting to drive a wedge between him and Su.
Go Mama Jing! Show your boy what's what.
Commence major guilt attack for Prince Jing. Silly Water Buffalo, your IQ needs to upload again now, okay?!  
It disconcerts him how well Xiajiang read his personality and how he used his lingering distrust of Mei Changsu so masterfully. When Jing remarks that his mother is the far better judge of character, she murmurs "of course, he would never do something like that" - and then lies about what she just said. 
It does help when you have knowledge others do not...I wondered (then and now) if she would have been so confident of Mei Changsu's motives if she didn't already know he was Lin Shu. She's an excellent observer, so I like to think yes, but did she reallly have enough time with him to assess properly?
I think she is also used to being patient and observing people. She is definitely a thinker whereas Jingyan is hot-headed and a tad impatient - act first, think later. It's also not like Jingyan hasn't suspected who Mei Chang Su is, but for some reason he hasn't really spent enough time thinking about why Mei Chang Su wants him on the throne.
An unconscious Mr. Su is receiving acupuncture treatment when Prince Jing makes his way down the secret passage. He picks up the bell he cut down, remembering Mei Changsu's despair and his own harsh words. He orders one of his men to prepare the horses for him. They're going over. It's snowing heavily and Zhen Ping tells the Prince he cannot go see Mei Changsu, he's too ill. What a shock for the Prince! (he could have known though, right?)
I found it particularly touching that he wants to visit him through the front door, not presuming upon the more private connection he'd previously severed. To me it shows his recognition of the wrongness of his behavior more than any words could ever.
And it's also him more publicly aligning with Mei Chang Su. Oh Jingyan. Silly Water Buffalo. I'm glad that he has eventually found out though. And look at that adorable Fei Liu. So cute!!!
General Meng has made a small detour over to the Bureau (to find an antidote), but now, he arrives at the Su mansion too! That Mei Changsu took the Wujin pill is news to everyone - and because the situation seems so dire, Jingyan decides to go "ask" Xiajiang about the antidote! Is that... smart?! I'm not sure. 
Well, it's direct. I guess it's worth a shot, but I can't imagine it would succeed unless they offer him something worthwhile in return. And what would that be?
*sigh* All this stuff going on. It seems that no matter how hard they try, there are still so many difficult obstacles to overcome. 

In the meantime, Banruo has managed to sneak into the dungeons, disguised as caterer, to discuss their future plans. She thinks Prince Yu is done for, he is of a different opinion. He has another chance... and it's the Spring Hunt in March. If he manages to lay low until then. 
How WILL we know it's over? What's the figurative fat lady here? Death?
I'm sure even in the event of his death, he probably has a thousand booby-trapped situations to haunt the kingdom for a long time. Evil scum. 
That very moment, Prince Jing is announced and Banruo scurries away. Meng, who has accompanied Jing, slaps the food bowl out of Xiajiang's hand, but after a few seconds of looking scared, Xiajiang is back to his old guileful self, guessing right immediately that this visit is because of the Wujin pill. And he also has confirmation that Mr. Su is quite important to them. Why else would they have come?
See? It's such a risky move. They give him power just by approaching him, and he's smart enough to do something with it.
Xia Jiang, don't overestimate your importance. Jingyan is hotheaded enough to off you right now. But yeah, I agree, it's definitely a risky move. 
Physician Yan pricks Mei Changsu's finger (sweet Fei Liu cringes, haha) and then lets two drops of blood fall into a green liquid. The liquid stays green. And Doctor Yan laughs and says: Don't worry about the Wujin poison, guys. The poison already in his body (he calls it "Poison of the Bitter Fame") is the most mysterious poison in the world. The Wujin poison just got neutralized by it. So, my learned friends... is this the poison Lin Chen gave him to save him? And what does the red berry he took before meeting Xiajiang have to do with it?
Wait, so is he dying of some ailment, but there's poison that's having the ironic side effect of prolonging his life? That has now also neutralized yet another poison introduced into his system? and yes, for the love of all things holy, what is that red berry?
Well, I could tell you, but that would be spoiling. You will just have to wait and see. But those are all great questions. Sometimes it is a little agonizing how the drama just gives hints and drops of information. 
Meng has Xiajiang by the throat, but the old man isn't ready to tell where the antidote is. He doesn't believe Prince Jing would have him killed here. It would look too suspicious. Ah, but he's known to be totally reckless, says Prince Jing. He cannot think ahead to the consequences of his action. Haha. He is ready to personally snap Xiajiang's neck if anything happens to Mr. Su. Meng presses his throat a bit harder and Xiajiang is gasping for air, when Li Gang appears and calls them away.
I did enjoy every moment of their bullying.
Haha. Me too. 
They tell Prince Jing they have found the antidote and he reports all of this to his mother, who is super worried. She knows the poison will have a negative effect anyway and tells her son to go see the Strategist more often. Our Prince feels bad about his actions. Yeah, we saw that coming, dear prince. He also really wants to meet Wei Zheng, but Su won't tell him where he is. He so desires to find out everything about the Chiyan Army case ... and especially how his cousin Lin Shu died, and what his lasts words were.
For reals. Jingyan, I do love you, but you are a tad dense sometimes. 
And once again, the memories come flooding in. His best friend was ripped from his life in an instant, and he does not understand it ... has no closure. And Jingyan cries, while his mother comforts him and tells him that his memory of his friend keeps his friend alive. Alive in his heart. *Hands everyone tissues*
No one tell this man that his dog didn't go live on a farm, or that the tooth fairy isn't real, or that Santa DOESN'T visit every child in one night...yes, I know these are not the things but I don't know what the Chinese childhood things are. My point is, let him be comforted. Let him believe in a fairy tale or two.
Come to me Jingyan, I'll hold you while you cry. 
And he says: "I don't want him alive in my heart. I want him to be alive in this world". But his mother knows: things lost are gone. Even if Lin Shu were able to come back to this world, things would not be the same. Looking up to the heavens, Prince Jing tells his dead friends who must be watching him that he will take this to the end. Nothing will ever be able to stop him.
Dammit. Give me some of those tissues, Eleanor.
*passes tissues to Jo* Did this show get a tissue endorsement for all the crying I'm sure happened? 


That's ma boy! All things considered, we get an optimal outcome. Yes, Mei Changsu is very ill, but we know he's always very close to dying anyway, the additional hardship just brought his illness on more quickly and forcefully. I was so happy to hear that the Wujin pill did not have the intended effect - Mei Changsu played with Xiajiang all along. 
Did he? Did he know going in that it wouldn't affect him exactly as planned? What if he miscalculated his strength?
I think he made a calculated gamble. He very much knows what is happening to his ailing body, even if all the people around him don't know. And the red berry I think was part of that gamble. I also think that Mei Chang Su doesn't really care too much whether he lives or dies sooner, he is willing to take any risk because of what he's doing. 

If only Xiajiang were defeated already! He worries me. So much! He may be in prison and facing a death sentence, but the bastard keeps scheming nonetheless. 
I definitely don't think all the fight is out of that guy. There's more coming, I'm sure.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure there is too. Ugh. He is horrid. 

It's Prince Jing who goes on a very important journey in this episode, which turns him into an even stronger human being and strengthens his resolve to walk this to the end and set things right. That he seems to miss his cousin more and more is natural (seeing how he constantly thinks about the Chiyan case), but I think it could also be a sign that his subconscious recognizes something in Mei Changsu that brings on these memories.
I'm with you, there. I feel like he just needs to take a moment and it will be clear - it's so frustrating!
It is very frustrating. Very, very frustrating. But I am so glad that he more clearly sees that Mei Chang Su is to be trusted. Now can he hurry up and find out that he is Lin Shu? We need some more bromance here.