Stick around for my notes and revisions of notes at the end. (You are, um, still reading my blog, right?)
So, so far I’m quite liking this. There’s been a lack of despicable antagonists (a plus) but unfortunately also a minimum of plot (a slight minus). The heroine hasn’t been browbeaten and has as much as declared that she won’t be the kind who turns into a weepy, useless mess (Man, I hope she’s telling the truth here), the hero is intelligent and kind of a bad boy without being totally irredeemable, and the two of them have really excellent chemistry (and comedic timing) together.
So! On to the episode!
When last we left our intrepid heroine and handsome hero, he had her backed into a corner and was leaning ominously in.
And, lol, she just ducks under his arm. And! Hua Rong is not defeated! She spots a parchment with inelegant writing on it, susses out that Chang Sheng is illiterate (…is he, though?) and offers to teach him to write. Not only, she boasts, does she write beautifully and read perfectly, she can memorize works at a glance! She then proves it! You go girl! So he agrees to her terms. (Hah, turns out the illiterate writing is actually Shaggy Bro’s. Blue Bro is supposed to be teaching him to write properly. Chang Sheng then threatens them with a fine if Shaggy Bro’s writing doesn’t improve, heh. He also sets them to keep an eye on Throat Cutter. For all the good that will do.)
Throat Cutter is listening to the insinuations of Creepy Lipstick Guy/Hu Er. He speaks for the old-timey type of pirates, who just want to cut throats and steal treasure, none of sissy taking prisoners stuff. Throat Cutter has to consider.
So Hua Rong arrives to give the first lesson. (Blue Bro makes a hasty exit). The map is tucked into Chang Sheng’s belt. Hua Rong does not succeed in getting it off him.
SO SHE”S ATTACKING WHILE HE’S IN THE BATH, AHAHAHA. Chang Sheng, considerately, puts his robe on before confronting her. Hua Rong hides her face anyway. Chang Sheng, considering that he’s pretty decent, merely flicks his hair back with sexy impatience, LOL. And it turns out that the map is hidden in his bed, anyway, so that was a waste of time. Funny, though.
Onwards! Little Bro wants to try building a ship of their own. He does believe that he can do it, if she gets the chart. But! Throat Cutter sees Yue Feng practicing his handwriting. Throat Cutter shows up to question Yue Feng. And, when he learns that Hua Rong is Big Sis, decides that Little Bro will pay the debt–a beating.
But he didn’t cry this time! And he didn’t beg. Hua Rong is proud of him. But still demands he tell her who beat him. He doesn’t want to. She figures it out promptly, anwyay. He tells her to let it go, they have to escape. She doesn’t want to. And she has a(nother) cunning plan. Hua Rong’s cunning plans only work about fifty percent of the time, but never mind. Also, lol: while she’s on good terms with the cook, the steward still holds a grudge.
So. A pirate council of war engages. Throat Cutter wants them to attack a government ship carrying vital military supplies! Chang Sheng doesn’t want them to. Throat Cutter points out that, excuse me, they are THIEVES, not HEROES, and they are SUPPOSED to steal from people, also SHUT UP WHILST I AM TALKING TO THE BOSS, HERE. Throat Cutter’s nacent staredown with Chang Sheng, however, is cut off by….a sudden urgent call of nature.
Well done, Hua Rong.
Now, if only there weren’t a freaking surfeit of witnesses to the fact that she gave the tea to the cook. She does, however, have an alibi: the tea was given to both Throat Cutter and Chang Sheng. (Only Throat Cutter also had lobster, ahah.) Hua Rong “sweetly” apologizes, and promises not to reveal that Throat Cutter wants the leadership position. In front of everyone in the room. Throat Cutter, predictably, tries to murder her then and there. You know, I really kind of like this heroine.
FIGHT SCENE WOO! (Oh, and now it’s over in the time it took me to type that.)
Hua Rong then starts pretending to cry. What’s worse, it works. OH COME ON GIRL, STOP BEING SO MANIPULATIVE AND GO BACK TO BEING INEPTLY CUNNING. So Hua Rong armtwists an apology out of Throat Cutter. Not that Chang Sheng is particularly happy about this, either. He knows what was up….which, she points out, also makes him culpable. But, she did it for her Little Bro and is willing to take the consequences!
(“Three months’ pocket money.” “Just that?”) And she’s starting to actually notice he’s both handsome, and nice to her.
Meanwhile, Throat Cutter has been pushed over the edge completely–he’s ready to take action that night.
Meanwhile, Hua Rong has probably set the kitchen on fire in order to more effectively snoop in Chang Sheng’s rooms.And! She found it! Finally! So, instead of taking it, she just memorizes it! Smart girl! And sneaks out victori….
But lol, Chang Sheng is resorting to strategems now, because he knows that if he doesn’t catch Hua Rong at something completely red-handed, she’ll wiggle out of it somehow.
And, red-handed they are caught, trying to launch their boat. So. To punishment! …he’ll let them go. If they get safely out, they’re safe. If not, no more escape attempts.
(KNOWING THE WRONG CHART. DAMNIT, CHANG SHENG THAT’S NOT FAIR AND YOU KNOW IT. NOT COOL BRO.) And stop looking so skeptical, this was your damn idea.
Naturally, it doesn’t work, and did he just drag her out of the water only to leave her on the beach on that same island? Not cool AT ALL, dude. So presently Hua Rong is squealing for help and running through the woods being menaced by CGI wolves. And Chang Sheng–who is enjoying this altogether too much–“helps.” He tosses her a knife to cut a hornet’s nest down from her tree. (And then the hornets come back up and she falls out of the tree. Aaaaaand he does catch her before she hits the ground.) Dude, it doesn’t count as saving a life if you’re the one to put it in danger IN THE FIRST PLACE. SHEESH.
Also, Hua Rong only likes chivalrous, noble, and fair-minded heroes! Not dirty pirates! So there! Hmph! Meanwhile, Chang Sheng is walking away with a “so you want the wolves to eat you, then?” and refusing to share his food unless she either begs or steals it–and then smirking to himself while pretending to sleep and letting her steal it from his fire.
Yeah. OK, at this point–and I knew this was going to happen–the plucky heroine has lost a good deal of her self-motivation and spunk; she’s reduced to following at the hero’s heels and no longer has plot relevance in and of herself. She is now automatically about eighty percent less interesting and ninety-five percent less relevant. Damn. I really did like Hua Rong for her first two episodes. She was funny without exclusively being the butt of the joke, she was clever and sometimes came ahead ahead and sometimes didn’t; she was–or at least aspired to be–strong and resilient. And she was compassionate, friendly, and stood up against injustice when she saw it. Now? Chang Sheng is permanently two steps ahead and she’s being repeatedly humiliated, given no opportunity to show her backbone, and running around squealing for help. Oh well. Maybe it’ll improve. My previous CDrama experiences, however, indicate not.
UPDATE from several episode ahead: No. I was totally wrong. Hua Rong never does lose her spine or her wits, she’s always totally cute and totally smart, AND THE WRITING IS ALSO SMART AND FUNNY AND NON-CLICHE! OH MY GOSH THIS MAY BE MY NEW SECOND FAVORITE CDRAMA OF ALL TIME! (Nothing’s ever going to top Chinese Paladin 3, but this one is really good.)
Also, Chang Sheng gets bitten by a snake trying to pull it off of a sleeping Hua Rong and then falls on top of her.
I am–because I do like the characters and I do want to trust the writers–going to acquire episodes four to however many I can load; but it’s with the hope that Hua Rong will regain her former status. Damn it, CDramas, why do you always do this? Gr!
Also, now that the romance has reached Phase 2, the actual plot elements are starting to appear. I’m assuming that Chang Sheng is going to get forced out of the pirate king business and take up a totally convincing disguise as a chivalrous jiang hu warrior wearing a very small mask. Hey now, if he and Hua Rong do end up fighting evil together, I’ll be one happy Riders.
UPDATE FROM THE FUTURE: I luv this show.
Please, please, get good again and stay good! I really want to like you! Don’t let me down! Fighting!
Thank goodness! Fighting!