28 July 2016

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Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜 - Episode 51 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on July 28, 2016
We get our Lin Shu-Jingyan reunion in this episode, but it's not a happy one. Did we ever believe it could be? We also finally get news of Xie Yu's death, which sets the final plan in motion. Only ... will Grand Princess Liyang find the courage it needs to force the Emperor's hand?
I honestly believed that death was a fake-out. Damn.
Eleanor: Well, we kind of need him dead so we can get the news out about what he did, so I'm glad that he did actually die. And oh my goodness gracious me! Prince Jing looks amazing here! 

Episode 51

When Mei Changsu is led out of the dungeons by Fei Liu and General Meng, he runs straight into Prince Jing, who seems to have been waiting for him. They look down one of the dark corridors, where Prince Qi was incarcerated - and then walk down there together. Only the two of them.
I liked how Meng held Fei Liu back. I also liked that early glimpse of Prince Yu, before he was so far gone - it was clear that he was not at all comfortable with the situation.
Oh no, I've already started crying. Everyone is going to think I'm just a crybaby if they read these recaps T_____T
Down there, a flashback... of Prince Yu standing behind Prince Qi, shaking, even though it should be Qi doing that, because he is about to drink poison. A single tears escapes his eye as he takes a shuddering breath and downs the liquid.
Prince Qi. I spent some time after that scene imagining what his last months were like. What it must have felt like to worry about his family, and to be a good son to a bad father, one he knew would kill him.
And no one defended him. How lonely. How terrible. How tragic. Where are my tissues???
Don't worry, says Prince Jing in the here and now - Prince Qi and the Chiyan case, they will be resolved soon. Lin Shu says nothing, but only stares into the empty cell. Boys, I wish you would talk it out. And hug...
I think Jing assumes that when that is set to rights all else will return to its natural place. He doesn't know the world doesn't work that way, but he'll find out soon enough. What's that saying? You can't stand in the same river twice?
I think it's also a "Don't worry, I'm not angry with you for not telling me who you are. I'll wait until you feel you want to tell me more" sort of thing. I think he knows things cannot be as they once were but he wants to believe that there is at least some justice in this world. 

Later, Prince Jing gathers his two trusted ministers and Marquis Yan and tells them he wants to open up the Chiyan army case. Re-investigate and re-judge it. Clearing the names of his brother and the Lin-family. Oh, sweet Prince ... careful. Caaaareful!
Why is this suddenly even thinkable with the emperor still alive? What protects Jing that didn't protect anyone else? He just watched two brothers be banished - one just for being a fool - what makes him think he can push this through?
I think it was mentioned before - if they wait until the Emperor is dead, the solving of the case won't be as meaningful. It has to come while the Emperor is alive. And Prince Jing at this point is essentially already running the kingdom - he is almost safe to start this. He's got Mei Changsu on his side and many trusted ministers. They will find a way where no other could. 
But then, news of Xie Yu's death reaches the Capital. Finally, I want to say, it seems we have been waiting for this forever! Yujin sees Xie Bi (Jingrui's little brother) off - he is going to collect his father's remains. He's a good kid (and I'm glad to learn that Mei Changsu sends some people to watch over him on his travels). 
I had forgotten about this kid and at first I thought he was that pugilist brother-in-law, the one with the pregnant wife. She died after the party, right? It feels like that was a year ago.
She did die a while ago, wow it does feel much longer ago as well. That's no Xie Bi's wife though - that was the other side of Jingrui's family. I'm still a little gobsmacked that Xie Yu was so evil and yet Jingrui and Xie Bi ended up being such good guys. I guess they had other parenting role models around them to ward off some of the bad guy influence. 
Oh no, the Hua Assassin is afoot! Guess whom she's targeting? Yes, of course! Princess Liyang, who has a letter that is going to open hell for some of the scumbags still around! The Assassin strikes, her sword only inches from the Grand Princess' back ... when JINGRUI APPEARS! Yay, OMG, I've missed him so much!!! The female assassin almost escapes, but Zhen Ping, hidden in the shadows, throws a dagger and kills her. That was Zhen Ping, right?
I think so, yes. And yay! Worried Seal returns!
Jingrui!!!!!!! He is so lovely!!!!!! A truly excellent character all round. 
It's daytime, and Nie Feng is doing well, as Lin Chen assures us. Nie Feng also tries to speak, which doesn't go so well, but it seems he is trying to ask how Lin Shu and his wife are. Lin Chen (what an ass!) says: he does not need to worry about Changsu and he himself knows nothing about his wife, so he will get no answer. He is quite unlikeable most of the time, right?!
Quite, yes. He's a massive dickhead most of the time. Probably tickles babies till they cry then says he was 'just playing' with them.
I don't remember being that ticked off by Lin Chen. Though he is annoying. Nie Feng's hair looks so soft! 
Anways, Wei Zheng and the gang come running all happy, they have brought "Bingxu Grass", which seems to have been extremely hard to get! They are under the impression that this will save their Chief, that it will remove the poison from Lin Shu's body ... that's all bullcrap, says Lin Chen, charming as usual. This ultra rare grass is not enough. In addition to it, you need ten people with very high chi to give all their blood for a transfusion. They will die in the process, as they know from one known case. Finding ten people willing to die for Lin Shu would most definitely not be an issue - but quite clearly, Lin Shu would never ever accept this sacrifice.
Nor should he!
Yeah, there's no way in hell Lin Shu would ever allow that. 
Oh no, our grown-up puppies are so disappointed in the unfairness of life... so sorry. But Mei Changsu appears, he heard it all, and tells them that the length of a person's life is not what is important. That one person that let ten people die for him a century ago lost something much more important than life (that would be his integrity). Better die pure than die dirty, is what he saying. He seems completely at peace with his fate. I'm not, though.
I kind of am, I think. He must be tired.
Oh Lin Shu. I think I'm at peace with it, but I am still terribly sad. And crying again T____T

Marquis Yan takes Madame Han to see her ex-husband. Wow, his reaction when he sees them, especially his son... am I feeling a bit sorry for this monster?! The mother has the son kowtow to his father, for his blood, but she also tells the young one to take his father as a warning; and Xiajiang that the son will take care of his funeral and she will pay her respects on certain festivals. It hits the old man hard, this visit.
I've always found these type of signs of humanity to be particularly horrifying in a truly evil character like Xia Jiang. This isn't a guy who lost his way or was weak to temptation. This is a man who willingly performed heinous acts, who believes that he is right to do so simply to protect himself. He has feelings but no consideration at all for the feelings or rights of others. He is monstrous. He is exactly the sort of person I don't want to die - I want him to live in that prison cell for a really long time and think every day about what a terrible life he chose to make.
Yes, it was GOOD to see him so tortured
I agree with all you two just said. He is truly evil. 
Jingrui and his momma realize that Xie Yu's letter is the reason an attempt on Liyang's life was made - and mother and son decide to read it together. After they are done - it all happens in complete silence - Jingrui folds the letter back together, slowly and carefully and gets up. His mother tries to hold him back; she is afraid for him, because this is about the Emperor's biggest mess up ever. A cold, cruel, and brutal Emperor who did not listen to a single objection back then as he proceeded to massacre thousands, including his own son.
It's not like she doesn't have a point.
She has a point, but this is Jingrui - a person so full of integrity. There is no way he will let this go. And Lin Shu is family to him as well, isn't he? 
But this truth is too massive for it to remain hidden any longer. These people are too good to not act after they have read this. But rather than storm into the palace, as Jingrui initially planned, Liyang suggests to give this letter to Crown Prince Jingyan. I approve! I think. Well, they're actually passing on responsibility to Prince Jing so that his head will be on the line, but at least, I have confidence that he'll be able to handle this right.
If Jing can't do it, no one can. That at least seems true.
I think Jingrui is ready to take this on, but he does love his mother and he is willing to do what she wishes. At least Jingyan has Mei Changsu on his side. 
Well, they will soon all meet at the Eastern Palace! Right there, at the moment, Lin Shu, telling his cousin that he will remain Mei Changsu and will not live as Lin Shu after they have been pardoned - after all, his miraculous return is too complicated to explain. In fact, he will not be by his side at all - Su Zhe is too shady a strategist and Jingyan needs to be a pure light of shining virtue. To say that Jingyan is unhappy about that would be an understatement.
But they could have a secret tunnel! Well, really it's also because he's just simply not going to be around at all. That's not a tunnel I'd want to travel more than once...
Oh Lin Shu! At least hug your cousin damn it! Poor Jingyan needs some closure too you idiot. You're not helping his feelings by being so damn aloof. Mei Changsu, you are making me grumpy! 
Oi, this is harsh. Jingyan has come to rely on this man even before he was certain who he was - and now he wants to leave him when things are done? TT__________TT So sad. But I get it. And I'm sure Jingyan will get it, after it has stopped hurting so much. Lin Shu tells him he does not mind not being Lin Shu - after all, he's been Mei Changsu for thirteen years now. Let the memories of Lin Shu be just that - sweet memories.
Poor guy, he's just now realizing he didn't really get Lin Shu back. Mei Changsu has always known it could never happen, though.  
T_________T Crying again. Stupid %#$#$*&# Xia Jiang and the Evil Emperor who ruined the time these two friends had together. Lin Shu, please at least spend some moments laughing and reminiscing with Jingyan. Please! I know you have to leave. I know, but please, leave Jingyan and Nihuang with some happy memories before you go. Go on a picnic. Tell stories about the past. Do something! Ugh! 
Jingyan can barely hold back his tears when the Grand Princess is announced and interrupts this important talk. She and her son are both surprised to see Mei Changsu there ... and quite obviously not pleased. She wants him gone, but the Crown Prince makes it clear that Mei Changsu has his fullest trust. And Mei Changsu knows anyway what this is about - seeing how it was his idea to have Xie Yu write down that confession. He also knows what's in that confession. He knows pretty much everything, just get used to it, Grand Princess. 
Someone tell her who he is, please.
I can't stop crying. This is all so sad. I love how staunchly Jingyan defends Mei Changsu. It is so lovely. And yeah, Grand Princess Liyang, now is not the time to be prissy - though I get it that you don't like what Mei Changsu did to your husband and Jingrui. We get it. It makes me hurt for Mei Changsu though. In so many ways in all the years since Lin Shu "died", I'm sure he's had to deal with so many slights and dismissals from people who formerly loved Lin Shu. 
They think he wants the letter, but that's not it. He wants them, or rather, her, to help the Crown Prince with something quite important... something they want to happen on his father's upcoming birthday. He wants her to bring Xie Yu's confession to that banquet, where everybody will be gathered. And he wants her to accept her husband's crime on his behalf. This is the only chance they have to get the Emperor to admit his mistakes, if they confront him with this in front of so many people.
Somehow, I would expect this to backfire.
Wow. That is intense. Will she do this? Her own life was so hurt by the machinations of the palace, can she do this thing now in an attempt to make some penance for her evil husband. That is a lot to lay on her. Wow. 
Come on, woman!!! She is just too afraid of her brother, and she even asks what the benefit for HER will be. Seriously, come on!!! Lin Shu gets passionate, but then says "fine, okay", in a defeated kind of way, if she does not want to do it, better not have her involved. They need to find someone else, then. And as she looks at them full of chagrin, the Crown Prince dismisses her abruptly.
How does it benefit her? Oh my God.
Serisouly. WOMAN! YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO EXPIATE THE SOULS OF 70,000 PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES AND YOU ASK WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU????????

Comments

I wanted to scream at this woman and shake her! What a coward!!! Yes, of course the Emperor is a cruel piece of shit, but does she really think the people there would let her be killed?! Jingrui is much too filial to say anything (though he almost did!), but this woman deserved her life with Xie Yu, the biggest scumbag right after Xiajiang, who wins the scum-bag contest if she simply lets down the two men like that.
I agree. I said at the party that I was very disappointed in what was revealed about her and this just reinforces that.
Yeah. I know she hasn't had the easiest of situations with how she ended up married to Xie Yu, but really, have some integrity. And poor Jingrui torn between integrity and filial piety. 

But can we focus on Lin Shu and Jingyan. Of all heartbreaking things, this rather subtle goodbye was probably the most heartbreaking one. Lin Shu is telling his cousin that he must do it alone. That he must be strong and will be utterly lonely, because he will not be there with him. Of course he won't because he knows he is going to be dead very soon, but he makes it sound like a moral necessity, too. He is saying that his alter ego, Mei Changsu/Su Zhe, who did the dirty work for Jingyan, has to disappear from his side, as to not tarnish his pureness.
With the exception of the party, really, which wasn't dirty but was horrifyingly mean (no need to argue, I get why it had to happen) - what dirty work has he done?
I'm going with what the drama tells us. I think just by being a scheming strategist who hurts some people for the benefit of other things makes him morally "shady" in this universe.
Yeah, I don't necessarily think he's so shady either, but maybe others might say stuff, or there are probably cultural layers I'm missing out on. This goodbye was terribly heartbreaking for me, so I'm sure it must have been a million times worse for Jingyan. 

I think this is the one thing Jingyan will not fight. If he had said, "sorry, dude, I'm dying", Jingyan would have said "are you crazy, I will be with you until your final breath!" But to tell him that to be the Emperor this country needs, Su Zhe has to leave him... Yes. Yes, he'd agree to that, because Su Zhe's personality has been constructed as calculating, shady, and amoral if need be. Did you see him that way, generally? I didn't, but maybe we're missing something? And knowing Lin Shu after 51 episodes, it seems pretty clear that crafting this persona this way was always linked to the end. That removing himself from Jingyan's life would only be possible this way. So clever. Yet so sad.
I don't know that he did it this way for this reason, but I think when he decided to do this he knew what it would mean, absolutely.
I also think he is tired and exhausted. Solving this case and absolving his family and the Chiyan Army and their families is taking everything from him. I don't think we see this enough in the drama's make-up etc. but I think that in some ways, Mei Changsu is like a fading image that is slowly flickering away into nothingness. I don't think he wants Jingyan to remember him that way. I think he wants to be remembered as the Lin Shu he was, and not the shell of a man he became as Mei Changsu. 

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