The Advisors Alliance 大军师司马懿之军师联盟 - Episode 7 (Recap)

kakashi: Cao Cao is revealed as ruthless father and he and Si Ma Yi look into each other's faces and recognize the other as formidable ... enemy? Potential ally? We will see.
panda: Stakes get ever higher as alliances get solidified and lines get more formally drawn between the Cao brothers.
JoAnne: Who will win in this deadly game of chess? Well, not chess. Go. What's the Chinese version of Go?

Episode 7

Guo Jia is dead :(( Cao Cao is heartbroken. And so am I. I really liked this guy :((((
Cao Cao broke my heart with his grief.  also felt very sad. I admit again to being surprised that he was killed off so early.
Friends tell us this follows actual history, but yes, I was sad. I liked this guy too.
Cao Cao makes Cao Pi the head of the investigation office (Cao Pi suggests himself when his father asks) and tasks him with recruiting or killing Si Ma Yi (in case he cannot be recruited).
Cao Pi's ambition comes to the forefront here. I felt like the token was reluctantly given to him. His father definitely doesn't trust him. 
Don't you think it's strange? The father wants to choose the right son to succeed him, and here is a son who is clearly the right choice: smart, loyal, wants the job - and all he can do is mistrust him and throw obstacles in his path?
Cao Cao returns to the city, victorious. Guo Zhao comes running when she hears the army is back - and there he is, her Cao Pi, smiling at her. But Guo Zhao also sees the woman prisoner. And it seems she senses this means trouble... the smiles is wiped off her face. Cao Pi's advisor brings her a message from Cao Pi though - what it is, we don't hear.
She was pretty cute waiting for her man I guess absence does make the heart fonder. Plus he had been writing all those love letters from the battlefield :) I am surprised she had such an immediate instinctive feeling for the captured woman tough. A woman's intuition?
Sometimes you just know.
Cao Cao hears from Wenruo that all was quiet ... and tells him, smiling sweetly, he found hundreds of letters with his enemy that came from the imperial court. Wenruo's fright soon turns to relief when Mr. Prime Minister says he burned them all.
Sigh, all those things make Minister Yun fall deeper in love with him.
Did they have Cao Cao standing on something for this scene? Minister Yun came to his waist.
And then, Prime Minister asks: are the legs fixed? Si Ma Yi is painting (sitting in his wheelchair) some "hidden dragon" - a man he considers very intelligent (but with a wife less beautiful than his, if rumors are true). I assume we're going to meet this guy?
I think that is a safe bet to make.
This show never met a foreshadow it didn't like.
Little Bro comes in to report that Cao Cao has returned - the tales of how he succeeded impress Si Ma Yi. But he is also worried... he is pretty certain Cao Cao won't leave him alone. He gets dressed and waits for something to happen. It's Guo Zhao who happens: and she delivers a message from Cao Pi - a warning! That Si Ma Yi will get killed if he cannot be recruited.
The heads up was a good move on Cao Pi's part. part from genuinely having a sore spot for Sima Yi, he is still actively trying to recruit Sima Yi to his camp. It's obvious he recognizes his value and he's ambitious enough to want him for himself.
Sore spot or soft spot? Cuz I smell bromance in this next scene.
And BAM, right behind her is Deputy Minister "fully armed" (ohhhh, yum), waiting outside. Si Ma Yi gets up - in the process shocking a lot of people who didn't know - and scurries outside. Yes, I was right: Yum.
Huo Jin kills me every time with his loyalty and service to the Sima family. The look of joy on his face was so touching. Cao Pi is very yum on the horse.
You two, always sexualizing everything.
Cao Pi tries to recruit Si Ma Yi again - his vision is a peaceful nation (actually, just like his father). Hmm, so ... I'm not sure I get this, doesn't your Papa want Si Ma Yi? I'm sure he wouldn't be happy if you snatched him away, pretty Deputy Minister.
Cao Pi is consolidating his forces for succession. He's a filial son as far as I can tell.
The dad TOLD him to get Sima Yi, didn't he?
Si Ma Yi goes to see Cao Cao - the ministers inside all petition him to appoint a crown prince / successor while Si Ma Yi waits in the courtyard. He gets called in and the atmosphere is immediately charged ... Cao Cao says he heard Si Ma Yi has "the appearance of a wolf and the eyes of an eagle." Oh yeah? He waves him closer.
These two have such an intense weird chemistry.
The crawling, though, seems oddly placed. You make them crawl AFTER they choose to join you.
Apparently, that's not enough - he bids him to stand up, something Si Ma Yi "dares not" to do, but eventually does. And Cao Cao further tells him to "take a walk" - to see whether his legs are okay. Anyway, he recruits him --- to feed the horses. Ahahahaaa. When Si Ma Yi leaves, Cao Cao throws Weiqi stones after him... and gets the unguarded look he has obviously been waiting for.  
I thought he got a light punishment all things considered. There is a serious Cat and Mouse game going on between these two. It's apparent that Cao Cao doesn't buy the scared mouse playacting Sima Yi came to do. I was somewhat confused in this scene because I thought throwing the Weiqi stones had another meaning, but it seems to have just been a test to catch him unguarded?
The whole thing was weird.
The encounter rattles Si Ma Yi a great deal - for reasons not entirely clear to me, he buys a mirror from a merchant in the street and keeps looking at his own image. The Madam is quite worried when it's dark, her husband hasn't returned yet. When he finally does, he babbles about looking at Cao Cao and him looking back at him. But tending to the horses, that's not too bad. Of course, Si Ma Yi is the kind of person who actually enjoys caring for someone's horses.
At least whilst caring for the horses , his poor neglected legs will get a thorough workout. Is he seeing his reflection for the first time? Or doesn't he know he has crazy eyes?? Thank you Huo Jin for telling him that he sometimes gets scary eyes. 
Did he mean that looking at Cao Cao was like looking at himself? His true self?
Interlude with some sugar. One of Cao Cao's son (he's little) praises his teacher Xu, but when Cao Cao asks a servant to fetch some sugar, he learns that Registrar Yang took it. Uh-oh. I mean...... why would he??! Crazy. Yang Weasel is generously distributing sugar among the maids when Prime Minister arrives outside the house. It looks like Cao Cao is going to punish Yang Weasel, when Yang Weasel explains why he thinks it's no issue to eat the sugar. It says "one person one bite of sugar", which Yang understands as an order.
I don't know why I had the misfortune of seeing so much of the Weasel this episode. I eagerly await his punishment.
We all do. And you know what you did.
With Cao Cao still eavesdropping outside, Yang Weasel continues to talk, with great enthusiasm, about why the 4th prince, Cao Zhi/ Zi Jian is better suited to be the Crown Prince than his 2nd brother, Cao Pi, Zi Huan. He is Zi Jian all the way! A total fanboy!
Sadly, what Weasel said made some sense dammit. Anyway, it worked and now the fire of ambition has been lit within Cao Zi.
Yeah, the whole time I'm listening I'm thinking 'Dammit, he's not wrong. And in a sense, if he truly believes what he's saying, he's also a bit more complicated than just being a weasel.'
Cao Cao makes his presence known at this point and heads straight for the sugar box - only one piece is left. Rather surprisingly, he doesn't go ballistic, but shares it among his staff who have not yet had any. For himself, he even picks up a piece from the floor.
So, Cao Cao came here furious but Weasel said stuff that pleased him and made him think when he eavesdropped and he's now appeased? Hmmm. Doesn't bode well for Cao Pi.
Not at all.
Yang Xiu seeks Si Ma Yi, because he needs a horse - but of course, he is also curious about Si Ma Yi's lack of ambitions. He tells him he cannot hide from Cao Cao and that there is no place for mediocre people. Si Ma Yi in turn tells Yang Weasel he should focus on kindness and tolerance. The difference between the two is nicely shown when Si Ma Yi warns Yang that "the road ahead is bumpy, ride carefully" and Yang answers: "The road is not plain, therefore I need to ride more widely."
It felt like Weasel was actually being genuinely semi-friendly in this scene. I also really liked the Horse/Road analogy. It shows the different ways both men think and strategize.
I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that Weasel is not really any better or worse than Sima Yi - or if he is worse, it's not by much. Remember that the story centers on Yi - if it were about Yang and his family, it would be pretty easy to frame them up just as sympathetically.
At a smallish celebratory gathering, Cao Cao is happy he got all the talents in the newly conquered He Bei to follow him, including two that are there. One, a Mr. Cui (Cui Yan / Ji Gui), he has plans to make a marriage alliance with. Naturally, Cao Pi, the elder, thinks HE is to marry Mr. Cui's foster daughter - but nope, Cao Cao wants Cao Zhi to be the one!!! What humiliation for Cao Pi. I'm sure it's deliberate. And what heartache for Cao Zhi, who is in love with the lady they brought back from the war (Zhen Fu). She is to be Cao Pi's wife, Cao Cao later tells his wife.
I was first sad about Cao Pi's arranged marriage and then hurt on his behalf. He's being left out again! He must feel partly happy because its not interfering with his "affaire" but also so hurt that his dad is giving him the "worthless" wife. Strategically and politically Cao Zi just got a huge advantage.
Why stick around after this? I mean, if that doesn't telegraph Dad's intentions I don't know what would. Time to strike out on your own, Cao Pi. Secret alliance with Sima Yi for the win!
Cao Cao has it all figured out. Give Cao Pi a "bad catch", definitely not someone from a big family. Plus, he wants the two brothers to fight for the crown - and mainly, he wants to younger angry, so that he will actually go against his elder brother. Harsh times, harsh measures.
Sigh. Just when I liked you Cao Cao, you turn your kids against each other.
Maybe his wife will kill him.


Many interesting character moments in this episode. The key one was Cao Cao teasing the "dangerous eyes" out of Si Ma Yi and half rejoicing, half recoiling from it. The dynamics between these two promise to be very interesting.
Those eyes are really crazy. They give him away although anyone observing him should know he's mad especially after breaking his own legs! The two of them have such a weird vibe. Does Cao Cao want to groom him for himself? I am sure he doesn't want him to be Cao Pi's adviser. In fact, I feel he doesn't want Cao Pi to have any advantages.
Maybe Cao Pi isn't really his son? Why would you not want the smarter, stronger, braver son? Who has always been loyal?
It's simple: he fears him. All despots do

Another moment I was surprised about was when Registrar Yang visits Si Ma Yi in the stables and isn't snotty, but actually quite nice. Weird guy.
Pffft, I am still upset he wasn't punished for the sugar incident. *Remembers how the King eavesdropping on the Crown prince got him in hot water in NiF fondly*.
Ahhh, good times. Good times.

The last I find noteworthy is the sugar-incident. Cao Cao goes to Yang's house to punish him for his impertinence, but while listening to him outside the door, he has an epiphany about his son, I think. It's possible his idea to set the two brothers against each other started then.
That's my take too... Or should I say crystallized his plan to pit them against each other? I always had the feeling he didn't want to make Cao Pi his successor. Poor Baby
Funny, I thought the epiphany was about Yang. In a weird way, I think Cao Cao is torn between Yang and Yi more than his sons.