Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 49 (Recap)

kakashi: The truth wants out, always, and out it comes. Mei Changsu's identity is exposed as Lin Shu and it is almost a miracle that he survives this. But he has friends - very loyal friends, very stubborn friends, and now even powerful friends. This is Prince Jing's hour to show his father what is right and what is wrong and for the time being, he succeeds.
JoAnne: I think the Emperor suspects but they've confused him enough that he can't be certain. Or maybe they just confused me about the Emperor.
Eleanor: This is the episode that made me weep, uncontrollably, for about twenty minutes, maybe longer. I had to pause the video I was weeping so strongly. That screencap is about to make the waterworks start again. 

Episode 49

And here we go ... legions of scholars start searching the royal archives for hints about the Bitter Flame. Supervised personally by the Emperor. He is really serious about this. And then, Xiajiang arrives. He has a lot to whisper to a grave-looking Emperor. Gao Zhan looks grave too.
That robe, though. For a minute I thought I was back watching Mirror of the Witch. *starts to cry*
Xia Jiang! Why did you have to arrive again. Begone you devil! Begone! *calls for an exorcism*
And then, one of the scholars cries: "I've got it!"
That's not good. The Emperor now knows that having the poison is kinda proof you were at Meiling: fire, snow, and the snow beetle. However, they've got nothing but circumstantial evidence, if even that.
Maybe he was just some random guy camping there one time in the winter and his tent caught on fire. It didn't have to be during the battle.
Emperor Paranoid Pants probably won't take any chances and will try and off Mei Changsu the first second he gets I bet. Ugh. He'll probably listen to Xia Jiang too. 
Mei Changsu is summoned to the palace. Iiiiiiiih, and they obviously want to keep from him what this is about!! But Consort Jing, who got word about the discovery of the scroll, sends a maid to deliver the lily soup - THE opportunity for Gao Zhan to deliver an urgent secret message. "Tell your Madame not to allow Sir Su to enter the palace", he whispers to the surprised maid.
I really thought this soup itself would be important because of that whole long discussion about whether Consort Jing influences his dreams. But no, she was just checking up on things.
She's also very smart because she knows she might be able to get information. I heart her so much. It also looks like Gao Zhan might be at least a little bit Team Mei Changsu. 
While Consort Jing reacts immediately by sending word to her son, the Emperor takes further precautions: he sends Meng Zhi on a 3-day holiday, no need to come to the palace and thank him (so he suspects Meng to be in league with Prince Jing/Mei Changsu, it seems). In the meantime, Mei Changsu gets ready. How can he not go? Everybody at his mansion is very concerned, but he is confident. He will be fine, he'll talk his way through whatever is coming. "It's not like he's waiting for me with executioners" :O
Um, have you seen those scary monkey masks these guards are wearing? Don't be too sure, Mei Changsu.
Mei Changsu, this is Emperor Paranoid Pants. He'll probably have an army waiting to execute you. Stay home. Snuggle up with Nihuang. Throw oranges to Fei Liu. Read a book. Don't go to the palace. 
Off he goes in his little horse carriage! Prince Jing has sent his trusted man to Sir Su to warn him, but he is too late!! When he gets to the palace, after riding like the devil!, Sir Su has already disappeared inside. Oh YIKES, there are a lot of those scary guards...
They creep me out, but not as much as this wig on Jin Dong creeps me out.
Yikes! No! Don't go in! Don't get killed! 
Su Zhe bows deeply in front of the Emperor ... if he is nervous at all, it does not show. The two men stare at each other... and then, the Emperor orders Gao Zhan to check Sir Su's arms (and the guards to stand ready). Oh. Well, Lin Shu most certainly knows what's up now! His arms are clean, as we know. So is his neck. Mei Changsu smiles when the Emperor claims he is a member of Prince Qi's household. Are they not all dead? 
I love it when they throw something at the Emperor like this. If he says he doesn't know or thinks someone got away, his omnipotence is called into question. He has to pretend something went the way he wanted even if he thinks it didn't, or else he makes his own self look bad.
I guess having one's skin and bones completely transformed via poison does have its uses after all. 
While the Emperor starts questioning the sickly scholar, his friends (Prince Jing, General Meng and Princess Nihuang) puzzle over the reason for all this. Then, they receive a summons for Prince Jing. It's something rather big, they conclude. Very well, if hard comes to hard, they decide to stage a
rebellion! They gather their troops and get ready to strike in case Prince Jing and Sir Su have not been released by noon. 
I thought it was strange (appreciated, but still - ) how quickly Nihuang jumped to rebellion over Su, and how easily Jing agreed. It should be almost unthinkable for them, particularly for Jing - and yet he doesn't even need convincing.
Even if Jingyan doesn't strongly suspect that Mei Changsu is his best friend and cousin, I think he has reached a point where he trusts Mei Changsu. I think it's very much hot-headed Prince Jing, though bolstered by having power and an army at his command. 
Prince Jing rushes to the throne room, his puzzlement clearly showing. And then, Xiajiang is let in, to make his big accusation: Mei Changsu is Lin Shu!
dun dun DUN...I'd laugh if Jing looked around and said oh for crying out loud are y'all FINALLY ready to admit this? It's been so hard pretending I don't know!
At least he can look really surprised because he doesn't "know". Oh Xia Jiang, you crackpot you. 
If you say it like this, it sounds quite insane, haha. That's exactly how Prince Jing reacts too, at least at first. This man, Lin Shu?! He looks nothing like him! But his father has an explanation: the Bitter Flame. As something like doubt starts showing on his face, Prince Jing calls this utter nonsense.  Xiajiang scoffs at that. Why, if he knew nothing about this, did Prince Jing trust Mei Changsu then? And if he is not Lin Shu, why did he help the insignificant and marginalized Prince Jing?
Jing's face at that 'hmm, that's RIGHT' moment. And I always think Hu Ge's expression is like that of a lover asking 'you didn't sleep with her, right?' Begging to be allowed to continue on in happy ignorance.
Now my dear Prince Jing, this is the moment that you have to keep things together and not go crazy water buffalo on us. Keep calm and trust Mei Changsu. You can do this. Mei Changsu trusts you; Lin Shu trusts you. 
Ah, come on, Xiajiang... did you really think that would be enough? All those people, the former Crown Prince and Prince Yu... they did plenty of very bad stuff all by themselves, without any help by Mei Changsu. And Mr. Su gets quite passionate as he recalls who the real culprit in the very recent rebellion was: Xiajiang. "Is your Majesty not afraid that the innocent people who died at the Hunting Palace will be disappointed?", he ends his little speech. 
It was a nice speech. I think it began to turn the tide against Xia Jiang.
Mei Changsu. He is phenomenal. 

Outside, preparations continue. The pressure is mounting and mounting. My fingernails are about gone.
I loved Fei Lui, out of sight around the corner - just sitting there with his forehead against the wall. Poor kid. And Lin Chen, with his sincere hope that everything will work out and rebellion won't be necessary.
What fingernails? I think I'm down to the bone at this point. 
Xiajiang seems to realize he is not winning this round. Time for the next attack. Oh my, how will you counter this, dear Lin Shu?! He says that there is one thing that will give Lin Shu away: The Poison of the Bitter Flame in his body. The chill and the heat in his body creates an irregular pulse (ah! that's how Consort Jing knew!) - does he dare have it checked in front of his Majesty? If not, confess!
These people do not understand how proof works.
Xia Jiang, you are grasping at straws. My worry though is that Emperor Paranoid Pants won't care if the evidence is valid or not if he wants to get rid of someone. 
And confess he does. "Very well", he says, "I admit I am Lin Shu".
Haha, NOT what everybody was expecting. And of course, Mei Changsu knows exactly what such a confession will do: nothing. Checking his pulse? Pointless. Even if it is irregular, how will this prove he is Lin Shu? If it is regular, how will this prove he is not? This, Prince Jing and Mei Changsu say, is just the desperate action of a man on death row, trying to plant seeds of suspicion in the Emperor's heart.
Exactly. But hahahahahahahahaha. Also, though: even if he said it in such a way that it looked like he was telling a lie - how must it have felt to him to say his name out loud, and in front of the man who killed him?
I'm already starting to cry. Oh Lin Shu. Oh Mei Changsu, you bearer of 70,000 souls of the dead seeking justice. I can't even imagine how he's keeping things together. 
Okay, that DOES it. The Emperor has heard enough! Xiajiang may hit his head on the floor screaming that he is telling the truth, there is nothing, absolutely nothing here that proves what he has claimed - he has miscalculated his power and his standing, it seems. Realizing he has lost, the Old Snake attacks Lin Shu. Nope, not a good idea. Xiajinag: over and out.
Ha! That frustration and rage - we've all been there, that moment when we know we're absolutely right and yet no one believes us and we can't prove ourselves. I'd sympathise with him more, but he's just an asshole. No way.
Can those guards please slice Xia Jiang up into a million tiny pieces. Ugh. That man gives me chills. 
What now? Well. There's an elephant the size of Lin Shu in the room and the Emperor wouldn't be the Emperor if he didn't plan to get rid of that "little" problem. He sends Gao Zhan to fetch something (oh no, the Eunuch looks sad) and then attempts to send Prince Jing away too. But Prince Jing won't go. Especially after he hears that his father has prepared "some wine" for Mr. Su. Oh no. Even when his father gets super angry, he won't go.
Dad: Just GO already! I have to do something shitty and I can't DO it if you're here! *stamps foot*
#$%&#*# Emperor Paranoid Pants. He is so weak and that weakness makes him in some ways worse than Xia Jiang. His only motivation to to hold onto power, no matter what it takes. Whether it's killing his own son, the 70,000 Chiyan Army troops, and all their families. This horror of a man will stop at nothing to kill people who he has the slightest fear of. He is terrible. How did such a good man like Prince Jing come from such a father? 
Here comes Gao Zhan with the drinks. "This one is for Mr. Su", he says, and sets one cup well aside. Oups. Too obvious? Prince Jing asks what the wine is for - the Emperor claims it is all for his sake. And no grudges. Mei Changsu steps up and says he understands: his Majesty will follow Xiajiang's last words, who was carried out shouting "you can kill the innocents, but you cannot release the wrong ones". The Emperor wants Mei Changsu to die here and now, to avoid further trouble. 
I don't think this means that the Emperor believes he's killing Lin Shu, though, do you? I think he's killing Mei Changsu, because no matter who he is, he clearly has power. And also because they don't KNOW who he is. To me - if the Emperor knew for sure he was Lin Shu, there'd be no nice cup of wine. He'd be carried out like Xiajiang.
I think Emperor Paranoid Pants will stop at nothing so that he can keep his tenuous grip on power. Doesn't he realise that he's already driven his kingdom into the ground? 

The Emperor admits this is true - and grabs his cup. Mei Changsu steps over to take his, but Prince Jing stops him. He takes the cup from Mei Changsu's fingers and expresses his bitter disappointment in his father's constant suspicion. This was something between him and Xiajiang - if his father still has doubts, he should punish his son, not Mei Changsu. No! Jingyan!!! You're not going to drink this, are you??!
Oooh, where's this going? It's not like the Emperor has denied what's in the cup, so the goal isn't to get him to confess his plan and dash it out of Jingyan's hand...
Jingyan is standing up to his father. This, this is the beginning of a rebellion almost. The fire of Xiao Jingyan has been stoked and the Emperor will burn in it's path. 
And then, it's about noon... and Prince Jing and Lin Shu (so weak TT_______TT) walk out of the fucking palace. Oh THANK GOD.
Damn, That was quite the morning, wasn't it? I hope they all take the afternoon off.
Jingyan knows though. He knows. He knows Mei Changsu is Lin Shu. How is he going to deal with that? 
Prince Jing did not drink the poison-wine. He spilled it. Defying his father. Saving the day. But at what cost? He knows. He knows now.
I agree that he knows, but I don't think it was this that convinced him - the wine, I mean, because I don't think the Emperor believes this is Lin Shu. He might again in 10 minutes, but right now, I think he's convinced that Xiajiang was lying.
Oh, I very much believe that he knows Mei Changsu is Lin Shu. This scene where Jingyan pours out the wine is the one that had me inconsolably weeping. His pain and anguish at losing Lin Shu and finding him again, the love for his best friend, the hatred of his father and all he has done to destroy so many people - you could see that all in Prince Jing's eyes. Never has such a simple scene quite so undone me. 


My heart bleeds for Jingyan... his face as he walks through the palace to see his mother, to confront her with the truth... it's like an open wound. All that has passed between him and Mei Changsu in the last months, all that suspicion, the harsh words ... the implications of this. Man, this must hurt. So much. 
The poor guy. He's completely shell shocked.
Shell-shocked and in pain, but at least now he knows. 

All depends on him now. What will our Water Buffalo do now? Go hug his cousin? Go shout at him? Go find out about the Bitter Flame? Realize what is happening? Despair? Take heart and be even stronger? This could go any way from here. And we're far from the end of the road, far from it.
Because everything they have done to this point has been based on what is right vs. what is wrong, I think it will be easy enough for Jing to continue as they have - once he gets over his shock. Knowing that this is Lin Shu shouldn't change his mind about anything they've done - it all stands on its own merits - so he should continue as is.
Oh the pain. I think he will go forward well but this is all so tragic. I really hate Xia Jiang and all he has done, but I truly despise the Emperor. And I really am crying again while typing this. *sobs* My heart aches for all everyone has lost, but especially for Jingyan and Mei Changsu. This is all so sad. 

Today's tee-shirt is one of Lin Shu's favorites for quiet evenings at home, when he can just relax and be himself.
Oh Lin Shu *cries some more*