06 July 2016

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Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 46 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on July 06, 2016
kakashi: It gets harder and harder to keep the truth from Prince Jing. But they really have to, do they, until the path to the Iron Throne (shakes fist) is completely secure! The party returns to the Capital, which means Prince Yu's judgment day has come. How deep you have fallen, Prince.
JoAnne: He should have just accepted it back then, and not gone for this final push toward the crown. I wonder if he realizes that yet.
Eleanor: I think though that in some ways this brings him peace. He knows who he is now. He might regret it and the pain he will cause his wife and family, but he seized the day and it was a bad idea and he has to live with that. 

Episode 46

Mei Changsu is stable now, the crisis is over ... Consort Jing retires to her chambers. She seems very sad. Unannounced, Nihuang comes running in, out of concern for Sir Su! She tries to explain why she would be concerned (he saved her)... but realizes immediately that the older woman knows everything. Ouf, her tears ... it's like she had to hold back for so long, but finally, with this other woman, she can show her worry. They talk about the elephant in the room, his sickness: Nihuang dares not ask her lover what he went through, because she fears saddening him. Consort Jing tells her she is his closest family now: it probably means he is afraid himself to make her sad.
She's already sad, though. She wants to be closer, to fully share his burden. It would actually be a comfort.
I don't think that Lin Shu can tell Nihuang that he's dying. I think he's terrified of hurting her even more - and maybe that she will tell him to stop pushing himself so much if it will save his life. 
What absolutely kills me though is Consort Jing's assurance that he will be fine. That he has good physicians by his side, that he just needs to rest. Oh, woman ... I think you know that that's not true... but I guess you want to believe it.
Well, everyone is fine, until they're not. We all die. We can't let ourselves be paralyzed over fear of our death or the deaths of those we love.
But it's a lot different when it's a man who is barely thirty and facing death than someone who has lived a full life. Lin Shu has never truly had a life and he is barely a ghost of his former self. There is a lot of pain in facing his death, both for himself and for those who love him. It's so much pain that he cannot even tell his closest friend in the whole world, Jingyan, because he knows how it will emotionally affect Jingyan. 

Mei Changsu is weak, but awake. Immediately, Prince Jing approaches. He smiles, that's how happy he is to see the scholar up. Mei Changsu looks quite worried though. It seems he cannot remember anything from his "episodes". Prince Jing is also not at all in the mood to cut him some slack, but goes right for the prize question: his father, who allegedly saved his mother. What's his name? He also readily admits he will go ask his mother the same question. Oi.
Oops. How come this didn't occur to us, either? I'm a bit embarrassed.
Knowing Mei Changsu, he probably has some sort of tricksy scheme to get around it. Also, Prince Jing smiles are like instant happiness. 
Oh you sneaky buffalo! Mr. Su does not show his concern in his face, but we see that he is damn alarmed by the way he grasps his blanket. Even the small pause gives Prince Jing reason to ask whether something is wrong. He is so determined to get to the bottom of this! It's no secret, says Mei Changsu. His father's name is Mei Shinan. "Which Shin, which Nan?", Jingyan pushes on. It's Shi as in stone 石 and Nan as in Nanmu (a type of tree) 楠.
Oh I hope that this is either something they worked out ahead of time or something so obviously what he would pick...but how could that be? Oooh, maybe it was in that book. (No, I don't know something readers don't.)
I like it when Jingyan is smart. It's a very good look. 
Straight to mommy he goes with this. Oh no, she is so melancholic... But he only pauses for some milliseconds until he asks her the same question, in the same pushy way. "Did you think the name we gave you would be different?" she asks. Of course this is what he expects, but she tells him Mei Changsu's father's name is Mei Shinan. "Which Shin, which Nan?" he asks again. But she also says Shi as in stone and Nan as in Nanmu. Come on, Jingyan! Did you really think they'd be that negligent?
Still I don't really like the image of them hiding in corners working out details of their lie.
Unless it's not a lie that they worked out beforehand. 
The poor man is fishing so hard for what he knows is right there, in plain sight, yet hidden from him. He is so tortured by this!! He tells his mother he had a sudden and strange epiphany last night.... he knew, he suddenly thought, he was sure... that this man was xiao-Shu. But he knows he's crazy now. Xiao-Shu will never come back. And he would never be like this if he did, so frail and sick! How could he ever have thought these two men were one and the same!
Because you're a water buffalo, not an ox. Of course you would have to suspect.
Oh Jingyan, follow what your heart is telling you. No, wait! We need Mei Changsu's plan to go ahead and that plan means you can't know. 
Meng sends news from the Capital - order is restored, they can go back any time they want. However, Xia Jiang escaped. The Emperor orders him captured, dead or alive.
Preferably dead.
Can they kill him several times over please? 
He then calls for his brother, Prince Ji. He needs a shoulder to whine on, I guess? He is still so hurt about Prince Yu's treason. He also wants an opinion about who should be next Crown Prince. How can you even ask! Haha, Prince Ji is very funny, he feels so uncomfortable about this. But his brother insists and asks what he thinks of Jingyan, to which Ji says that he is benevolent, filial and moral. Honest, loyal and courageous too. A role model. The Emperor does not consider Jingyan his "best" son, but he was impressed by how quickly he handed back the Military Seal (even though he could have demanded all kinds of things in his moment of glory).
So then who is the 'best' son? Where is this paragon of virtuous manhood?
The Emperor wants to live forever and have power. He doesn't really care about which son is best for the kingdom. 
With everything settled now, Prince Ji is planning to leave. Mei Changsu takes the opportunity to thank him in Prince Jing's name ... for saving Tingshen. Ah, but the jolly uncle wants no thanks for it. "We are all one family. In this world, who is not related?" he says before walking away. Oh. Oh! Does he know?!
If he doesn't, my faith in this writer is shaken. Not stirred. I'm so bonded to the idea that Prince Ji is secretly very astute. Because after all, he wants to live - he'll die another day.
LOL Jo. hahahahahaha. Nice. Prince Ji just becomes more and more cool the more you get to know about him. Here he was trying in his own way to clean up a little of the mess his nasty brother made. 
They return to the Capital (the Emperor is seriously depressed about everything), where General Meng greets them at the city gates with reassurances that everything is calm. The Emperor proceeds to "depose" the Empress and exile her with only two maids. Prince Yu is imprisoned. As is his wife, just for being his wife ... he feels so sorry about that. Too little too late, Yu. 
Seems like she genuinely loved her husband, and that even if he took her for granted, he was fond of her in return.
But obviously not enough to risk everything without a surety he would succeed. It seems rather selfish. 
To make matters worse, she reveals that she is pregnant with his child. Of course. That shakes Prince Yu out of his resignation and he starts screaming for the guards. She cannot die! He demands to see the Emperor! He cannot demand anything in his current state, of course, and all that his screaming leads to is his wife's removal to a different cell. It's rather heartbreaking though. Prince Yu is so human... he continues whispering "don't be afraid" long after she has gone.
That was sad. And what do they do? If this child lives, does it set off yet another cycle of revenge?
We are getting a small insight into what happened with the Chiyan Armies' families, except they were innocent and weren't trying to stage a coup. It's a very heartbreaking situation. 
Mei Changsu has witnessed it all. It's hard to say whether he feels any pity for this sad, fallen prince. If he does, he certainly does not show it. He isn't gloating either, though, but he has come to say goodbye. He tells the prince he should have stopped when he still could. It was his ambition that killed him. If Prince Yu has one regret, it's trusting Mei Changsu. Ah, but he is not to blame for Yu's downfall, says Mr. Su. He has to blame himself and himself alone.
I don't see any pity, in fact I see a lot of anger. Disgust, even.
Prince Yu didn't do anything to defend Prince Qi either. I don't know if it would have made any difference, but he wants power too much. This is his fault.
Ah, Prince Yu... he has noble traits, and they show often. But he also is an utter fool. He thinks he is just like Prince Qi ... which of course gets a very strong reaction from Mei Changsu. His voice turns to ice when he tells him there is nothing he shares with that man. When he dies, he will be forgotten. And nobody will clear his name for him - because unlike Qi, he is far from innocent. He stood here, in this prison, and watched his own brother drink the poison he was given - and he did not convey a single word of what his brother said to their father. And he walks out, accompanied by Prince Yu's laughter, who mocks Prince Jing as a mere shadow of the Prince who died in this prison before him.
Yep.
Prince Yu. Not someone I pity. 
The Emperor has horrible nightmares during a nap... of a woman shouting "Majesty, Majesty" and running through the palace. In Prince Yu's confession letter that Gao Zhan brings to him shortly after, he learns that the Consort Yu is expecting a child. That makes him go to the prison himself, but... Prince Yu has killed himself. Oh no. In his own blood, he wrote this farewell letter: "Father, I should have killed myself at Mount Jiu An. I lived so that I could let you personally sentence me to death - and feel guilty for the rest of your life. Now I take my own life to repent for my crimes". And he begs for the life of his wife and his child. But, oh no....... when she heard that her husband had committed suicide, she killed herself as well. What tragedy.
That letter was gruesome.
So brutal and sad and tragic. These are the spoiled and rotten fruits of the political climate the Emperor has fostered and grown. His toxic leadership is turning everything around him septic. 
Only: Mei Changsu had the Princess Consort Yu removed from prison. A female prisoner who died from sickness was used as her body, while she is moved to safety in the Pugilist world. Awwww, how good of him.
I did like that. I hope that the beliefs of the Jiangzou Alliance keep that kid on a good path.
Something in my eye again. 
Given Prince Jing's rising status, the Emperor thinks it's time he remarried (is his prior wife dead or just very ill?). His mother will be in charge of choosing a wife, with the help of Prince Ji's wife. Everybody is super excited about this. Me too! Will it be someone smart and pretty, to keep him company? Poor Water Buffalo. Don't be sad and lonely.
I think she's been very ill for a long time. Can we photoshop Eleanor's face on the chosen princess?
She's dead. And yes, we should photoshop my face in ;)

Comments

I wept for Prince Yu. We have discussed it before, more than once, but he's a really tragic figure. If you have characters that are 100% villain, you don't care what happens to them much. Rather, we expect them to be punished, fairytale style. But Prince Yu was no 100% villain. He was ruthless, he was greedy, and he was often mean and unfair. But he was also very much human. What really "broke" him was finding out about his true parentage and hearing his father talk about how he got rid of his mother. For all his life, he had tried very hard to be a filial son. But from that moment on, he just hated his father. For everything. I can really relate to that. All of a sudden, Prince Yu felt the Emperor's injustice keenly and directly, when before, he only saw it happen to others around him, like Prince Jing.
Absolutely, totally, 100% in agreement. Such a layered performance - I am very sorry to see him go, despite feeling relief that this particular threat is nullified.
I think it was an amazing performance and he was definitely not 100% villain, but I feel like he has consistently made choices his whole life that show he was never interested in virtue, but rather in power. What would have happened if he had spoken up for Prince Qi? It might have been a very different story. 

Where Prince Yu fails and does not deserve our pity is in his last moments, when he clearly shows us that he feels no remorse for what he did - that he does not even understand what he did wrong. Prince Yu had no other goal in life than to ascend the throne and it completely warped him as a human being. He is emotionally stunted, a dangerous bully, a ruthless man. But there is something in him that makes him regal, a son of a king. It's an iron will, perhaps, a will to rule, the ability to lead people and very refined social graces. Seeing him move in court was a pleasure: having him gone is a loss. Rest in peace, sweet prince. You had a noble heart. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Well someone was strongly affected, I see. Me, I'm thinking one-line eulogies:


LOL. I definitely don't have as much sympathy for him. I think he had potential, but I don't think there was enough nobility in him when it really mattered, when it really counted. A truly admirable performance from Victor Huang. 

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