The Advisors Alliance 大军师司马懿之军师联盟 - Episode 4 (Recap)

kakashi: I must apologize for the long gap between recaps, I honestly don't know where time went! It's quite shocking it's already mid-September. It's strange with this drama, I very much enjoy it when I watch it, but then, I forget about it quickly.
Panda: I enjoy it but because I wait till recaps to watch,it's also really spaced out for me. I don't mind though because the subbing speed is snail-like (not complaining, just stating facts). As always, I am grateful we even get subs at all.
JoAnne: I do the same thing. Panda and I are so alike you can barely tell us apart, right?

Episode 4

Back to that heartbreaking scene where Zhang Chun Hua gives her children away. She still hopes she may be able to pick them up again soon - but if not, she wants the foster family to treat them like their own. And to make it even more heartbreaking, Zhang Chun Hua turns back after leaving and asks if she can hug her newborn one more time. Thanks, drama.
Heart wrenching. Dropping off her children including that newborn was so sad. I want to bang Sima Yi's head on something.
He's supposed to not even try to save his dad? Come on!
In the evening, Cao Cao is still smug and happy about how clever he is: he is just waiting for people to make their move. He tells his son to speak up, and Cao Pi does, saying that Sima Yi has disappeared, and that they should stall his father's execution because of it. Cao Cao isn't delighted to hear this, but he doesn't get to be really angry, because Minister Xun is announced, plus the Ugly Weasel. Can I call him this from now on? I mean Yang Xiu. Cao Cao: "Some people are eager to save lives, some people are eager to kill."
Ugly Weasel I fear is even too good for him. Gah I hate that guy. Cao Cao is very, very smart. I feel like he was disappointed to hear about the disappearance because he wanted there to be a showdown of wits. He knew there were numerous plans afoot. In this scene I also kept wondering why he dislikes his son so much? Cao Pi has been quite the good son. It's intriguing.
Maybe he thinks Cao Pi is secretly judging him.
Why Minister Xun has come: to report that Sima Fang hasn't signed the confession papers yet. He doesn't offer much of an explanation why he thinks it's necessary that he signs it (Cao Cao suggests it must be because all the other ministers doubt him, but our Minister won't implicate others, of course) - so it mainly looks like he just wants to stall the execution too (he is the one eager to save lives). Since he is here, Cao Cao makes our favorite Minister the one to oversee the execution. Testing him? 
Everything Cao Cao does has a purpose. I feel like he knew Minister Xun was involved somehow in whatever was going on and he wanted to make it easy for him by putting him in thick of things.
That guy is just out for himself. Whichever side wins is the side he's on, but I do think that's a brain decision and that his heart might prefer one over the other.
During all this, this guy looks like this. I find him kind of hot.
He is. And smart.
Yeah, this one I like. I don't even mind the fancy napkin folded on top of his head.
Why has Weasel come? Ah, to volunteer to oversee the execution! Eager much? Fie, fie, fie! Request granted, of course. Cao Pi tries to talk to his father again, but he throws him out, angrily. He seems to think Cao Pi is betraying him too, just like Minister Xun. Guo Jia cautions against hasty conclusions though. He thinks things are far more complicated. (Looks at this drama...agrees)
Yes, this answers my initial question. Cao Cao feels Cao Pi is covering for Sima Yi that's why he is so harsh on him. By the way, where's the junior Cao?
Ha. Where's the beef?

The next morning. Minister Xun gets Ugly Weasel to fake Sima Fang's signature on the confession. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Someone is being sly.

I kept thinking UW wouldn't sign the confession, and then he signed it!! I wondered why he would feel so comfortable doing so then I remembered he thinks he has Minister Xun under his thumb and is therefore invisible. Not so smart after all.
Ugly fat face weasel butt frog turd covered in flies.
Ah, look at Cao Pi all manly and on top of a horse. He's hot too.
Not even a little bit.
They bring out Sima Fang from the prison.....which is the moment Zhang Chun Hua and Guo Zhao attempt to free him! But Cao Pi is just too good, he stops them with ease. His two new prisoners are also taken to the execution grounds. Shortly after, little Sima Bro also gets himself arrested, for trying to interrupt the execution.
Nihuang to the rescue!! Oh sorry, its Chun Hua and she of course doesn't succeed. It was basically a a suicide venture. I think they are lucky Cao Pi was in charge of the guards else they might have paid with their lives immediately. It's also funny the younger Sima brother wasn't involved in the rescue plan.
'Your job? You're the visual of the family! Go stand over there and look pretty!'
It looks really dire for the old Sima. Minister Xun sighs heavily and tries to stall some more, but alas, he can't hold it off any longer. So he gives the order to behead the old man.
I'm so tense
He's an attractive man. I mean, not right THERE, but I keep forgetting to mention it when he is.
The executioner is already swinging his sword, when someone shouts to stop - this case is a shame. It's Sima Yi! Cao Pi smiles, Minister Xun sighs from relief and Weasel Ass is extremely surprised. A very sickly looking Sima Yi says he has evidence. It is... his father's faked signature on the confession. Hehehe. Weasel was so framed.
Finally! The relief on Minister Xu's face though! I loved Cao Pi's little smile, I can't wait for them to be allies. As for Ugly Weasel, he still didn't look scared because he thinks he's going to "weasel" his way out of it. I am eager to see naked fear in his eyes.
I'm eager to see Cao Cao's adviser guy again.
It was all Sima Yi's great plan to "die", so that they could make sure Weasel lowers his guard and of course, Wenruo (=Minister I'm in love with) was in on it. He really did get wounded though, our brave Sima Yi - and hey, we see in a flashback that Ji Bu knew it's a set-up too! I wonder, does that mean Cao Pi knew as well? Anyway, in what follows (lots of shouting) Weasel Yang Xiu makes a mistake when he mentions the "golden bowl" in which those discriminating letters from Sima Fang were...only, there is no way he could he have known this unless he put them in himself. 
I am not sure if Cao Pi knew for sure that it was a set-up. He must have had a pretty good idea though because as we said he showed no surprise on Sima Yi's re-appearance. Smarmy Yang was still so arrogant and condescending even with the forged signature allegations. I was ecstatic when he slipped up about the golden bowl. Then and only then did he show some fear and  I had the pleasure of seeing his hand shake. 
You're going dowwwwwwwwn, Weasel.
Sima Fang's execution is stopped, but Sima Yi collapses - it was too much. All of them get thrown in prison including Weasel Yang Xiu. I LOVE MINISTER XUN.
He's amazing. Poor Sima Yi, the stress must have been crazy. 
Sidenote: the translation said "Roger" when Cao Pi ordered the execution be stopped. I LOLed so hard.
Me too! What's next - okie dokie?
Of course, Cao Cao expected something like this all along. He is impressed about the performance of the two sons and shouts at his own son again, when he suggests to punish the Weasel for setting up the Simas. Wow, he really thinks his son is betraying him? He's so loyal! Luckily, Councillor Guo again tells him to ease his anger.
Cao Cao is so smart that his doubting his son's loyalty doesn't quite make sense. Yet as observed from beginning of this episode he's very angry with him. Maybe he just doesn't want him making allies/plans behind his back? 
Hey wait, he looks good good good right there.
Minister Xun visits the Yang Weasel in prison. That's really nice of him. But Yang is bitter: Xun has saved the Simas but has thrown his own family under the bus. Well, he doesn't say that because they did not know buses back then. He still thinks the Simas deserve to die, like all the other people who signed the edict (so he wants his father dead after all? Weirdo.)
This clothes edict has always confused me. It was like when he wanted to take the list to Cao Cao in the previous episode. Why do that when you know your dad is on it and will be killed too? And we know he's filial to said dad. 
Why is it called the clothes edict? That's what's puzzling ME.
Somebody left a long comment about this on one of the earlier recaps
Minister Xun....... I have such a CRUSH. He talks to this arrogant Yang Weasel in his quiet way and tells him, yes, he is very smart and talented, which might save his own life (and that of his father), but: "It is easy to climb up but it's not easy to be balanced. It is easy to kill but difficult to save." Yang listens, though I think he is too arrogant to understand. And it seems Yang Xiu actually believes in Cao Cao and isn't just sucking up to him. He thinks he is the one who can save the country, so he will support him all the way.
Of course he won't listen to this wise, sexy, Minister! I was also surprised here. I had thought Yang Xiu was just an opportunistic snake but it turns out he is a real Cao Cao fanboy. He apparently truly wants to support his cause. Part of it is as he said in his own words "The Emperor is useless" (an understatement) and therefore he wants to align with the real power, but I also feel like he halfway buys the shlock Cao Cao is selling. Interesting. Makes him a weasel with layers.
Like I said. He goes with the winners. Plus, we know Cao Cao has the brains to run the country well.
Cao Cao himself goes to the prison next, to see Sima Fang (who can barely talk nor walk). He apologizes to the broken man about his suffering and lets him go, him and the rest of his family. He seems sincere, but I never know with him. Back home, (the still recuperating) Sima Yi says to his wife the reason they have been able to leave is they're just pawns in Cao Cao's larger game. This is not the end. But at least, they can be together.  
The background music when Sima Fang was freed made me think Cao Cao would stab him as he walked out :) But yay! Freedom for poor papa at last. He looks half dead already. 
Sima Yi tries to find out about Ji Bu, but his wife says there is "nothing" between them. He saved her from a bandit, that's it. Sima Yi obviously doesn't believe it, since Ji Bu always mumbles when he talks about her (pffft) and she says: maybe because we "live and eat together on the way", people might have guessed wrongly about their relationship. Hmmmmm, I don't know, I'm not convinced either.
Men! He really thought he was so slick slipping in Ji Bu when his wife was being all emotional about his return. Pfft. Ji Bu is so hot but I don't think there's anymore to their story except she's a better actress than I give credit for.
I don't get the feeling she pines for Ji Bu at all, but I can't say he doesn't carry a torch.
Minister Xun goes to see Cao Cao that day, bowing deeply. He wants to confess that he set up Yang Xiu because he thinks that means he deceived Cao Cao. But Cao Cao just laughs. He assures Minister Xun that he has his absolute trust. He says it's okay to have little secrets, but just like husband and wife, he hopes they will stick together through thick and thin.
I was scared for Minister Xun throughout this scene.
That was an interesting twist to their relationship. I think Cao either didn't know the truth between Yang and Sima, or it didn't really matter to him which one got sacrificed - and he chooses to accept that however Xun did it, he uncovered the truth. Cao Cao is secure enough to not need to do ALL the plotting, and I guess he's confident that overall, Xun's his man.
This trust makes Minister Xun ashamed, but Cao Cao doesn't want to hear it. Everything went according to his plan: He will show mercy now. He lets everyone go. What he wants now is Minister Xun to focus on drafting an edict "for the country". Does he mean to unite it? Save it? Anyway, Minister Xun is moved to tears.  "No one in this country can have a heart likes yours!" he cries.
I was right to be scared because Cao Cao just seduced him like a master. Wow. I sincerely hope Minister Xun is acting about his new found loyalty and fidelity.
Look at him making puppy eyes.
Before Minister Xun leaves, Cao Cao asks him what he thinks of Sima Yi. "He is deep like a river, I can't see through him," is the answer. Then he's like you, says Cao Cao and laughs heartily. After the Minister has left, Cao Cao looks at one of those intel shows...I'm not sure who this is. Wenruo at the river? Whatever it tells him, he burns it.
Ooooh, is that who it shows? I was puzzled by it but I knew it had some significance to what had just gone down.
So then he knew what was happening all along, I'm betting. Maybe not the details, but he knew that Xun had picked one family to back. If Cao trusts and respects him like he seems to, he's going to think that whoever Xun chooses is a good person to have on his side.
Advisor Guo - who has been listening to everything behind the wall - is also extremely impressed by Cao Cao's actions. The Grand Master declares he is going on an expedition and will leave the city in Guo's care. Then, he talks about the two sons again: Yang Xiu and Sima Yi. Can he use them? Guo says: Yang, yes...but not quite so sure about Sima Yi.
Leave Sima Yi alone guys. Let him enjoy his wife and her little Ji Bu mystery.
Oh I like this...he's going to string Yang along for a while, get every last bit of usefulness he can from the guy.
The Sima family (the kids are back!) is in the garden all peaceful and happy, when Cao Pi turns up (neither peaceful nor happy). He has come to interrogate Sima Yi, he claims. He smiles when Miss Guo brings him some wine...but she also has medicine, for Sima Yi. He has to drink it now, she says. Cao Pi softens and tells Sima Yi to rise, hands him his medicine and afterwards tells him to sit at the table. Maybe not an interrogation after all?
She's so cute! Cao Pi is already falling in love. I also need him and Sima Yi to be friends. ASAP
I do not object to any of that, except the pretty Sima boy likes her too, I think.


I like the little romance we have building here (there will be complications, of course, this is a long drama!). I loved every second with Minister Xun (have I mentioned I have a crush on this guy?), I hated the Weasel and his stupid way of talking SO MUCH (even though a part of me understands him - he is awful, but he thinks he is doing this for the greater good), and I remain amazed at how much I like Cao Cao, even though I cannot believe he is a good guy. But he has such great leadership skills! He scared all the Ministers (well, and had a few killed on the spot), but now, he let's them go, since he has made his point. He is, we have realized by now, after "young talent" and of course, we will now see attempts to win Sima Yi over. Good luck with that. 
Cao Cao is truly impressive. He's whip smart and he has amazing leadership skills. See how he whipped everyone into his corner. If Minister Xun isn't playing a long con then see just how easily he got all his loyalty. One thing I have also loved from the beginning is that he surrounds himself with equally smart people and then actually listens to them. He is however a BAD GUY. I don't see a path to his getting Sima Yi just yet. Speaking of- The look Sima Yi and his wife exchanged after the shouting theatrics and the execution was stayed was WOW. That look conveyed so many emotions. I felt that was quite a standout scene in this episode. 
Enjoyed the episode, pieces are being put into place. I just wish they slow it with the "slo-mo" for the horses e.g. during Sima Fang rescue. It always takes me out of the scene.
I think Cao Cao has a vision, and that he will pursue that vision ruthlessly. I don't think he's someone who enjoys instilling pain or fear, but he is someone who will use them if he needs to - and so the minute he gets what he needs with those tools, he can put them away. So far, he is the very definition of control. I also think he genuinely believes he's doing what's necessary - not even for himself, but for the nation. It's just fortunate that it benefits him as well.

A word on Cao Pi. Coa Cao sees him as a threat, I think, which puts Cao Pi in a lot of danger. I don't think he has any intention of taking power that is not offered to him. He seems loyal, filial, and just. Maybe that is the problem - he is too honest. Anyway, I hope Cao Cao stops yelling at him.
Poor baby. He always looks so hurt too.
I feel like they make this awkwardness so obvious that there has to be a story coming.