Siege in Fog – eps 8-13

poster2bchess2bsiege2bin2bfog2b5For a series that started out with warlords on mountains, rival armies led by handsome young men–who are bros despite being mortal enemies–battles, maneuvers, and burning forests….the fact that the stakes get lowered drastically, the scale of conflict diminishes, and the intricate, plotty backstory where everyone has an agenda, family issues, conflicting loyalties, hidden desires, forbidden friendships, epic love affairs and dreadful grievances…gets replaced with a slightly tedious romance is fairly annoying.

So, at the funeral of the family strategic advisor (Mr. Fan), Saboteur Aide coordinates a protest/attack on the funeral procession. Second Brother ends up beating someone to death and is disgraced. Everyone thinks that this means the Third Brother (our hero, Lian Kai) is going to advance in the family rankings…but he and his father both know that he’s just biding time until Second can decently come back. Meanwhile, Second Brother’s Wife (Yanyun), has been obsesssed with Lian Kai since they were kids, and now the fact that she is married, he is married and has a mistress…isn’t really letting that stop her. And then they both get kidnapped and it’s up to Qin Sang to rescue them. Along with the guy who broke her heart before and is now working for her husband (and plotting with revolutionaries), Pan Jianchi. He doesn’t take “I’m married now and you broke my heart and stomped on it, leave me alone!” for an answer.

So: the person who seems to be earmarked as the villain is the uncle. He is consistently pushing Second Bro to be more aggressive and take out Third Bro.

– Our heroine, Qin Sang, doesn’t just dislike her husband. She passed dislike two years ago. Now, she’s approaching indifference. Lian Kai isn’t helping the appearance of matters, by having what appears to be a mistress (“actress” Min Hongyu) and installing her in an official Yi Family house residence. Min Hongyu is actually a woman with deep connections and real sources of power, which she is interested in using to her own advantage. She is also hinted to be a spy for a *different* warlord. Also, although she’s been helping Lian Kai out, he’s getting somewhat impatient at the price he ends up paying.
– But anyway, back to Qin Sang. She may speak quietly, but she genuinely isn’t just a pretty, diffident, submissive female. She’s intelligent, educated, has her own ambitions, own likes and dislikes, and isn’t nearly about to knuckle under for anyone. And while this a huge frustration to her husband, who would really like her to just melt into his arms, it makes their dynamic much more equal and therefore interesting. QS lashing out at him in return for two years’ neglect and a forced marriage feels pretty justified–and her being able to land some actual hits gives their fights emotional impact. I still preferred it when they were on a mountain surrounded by enemy soldiers and needing to grit their teeth and work together to fight their way out.
– Yanyun is also a woman with her own likes and dislikes and agenda. Unfortunately, these mostly revolve around Lian Kai. Her backstory: she agreed to marry Second Bro instead of Third because her father convinced her it was the way to keep the family together and everybody safe when the elders went away and the fighting began. She is in love with–obsessively and without the benefit of reason–Liankai, and has been since they were all children; and she has convinced herself that Liankai is, too.–completely ignoring the fact that Second Bro loves and is in love with her. Second Bro is set up to be the antagonist, but this is still a saddening scene.
– “The eldest son of the Yi family knows strategy and books. The second son of the Yi family knows how to fight. The third son knows how to gamble.” –sets up a pretty badass scene and resolution. And then the rest of the series does nothing with it.
– The brothers keep assuring each other, themselves, and interested third parties, that they are brothers, brothers only fight and don’t hurt each other, and blood is thicker than water….
…yeah, they’re going to end up murdering each other with their bare hands, aren’t they.
– I’m probably missing a chunk of the political subtext behind the warlords, scholars from the old regime, and pro/anti democracy arguments. But I do have the feeling that a much bigger part of the picture is the fact that the scripts have to pass inspection by censors, so…
– Lian Kai being consistently a cool character–from leaning his head into the gunbarrel pointed at him, to nonchalantly agreeing that, as a kidnapping token, a finger is better than a chunk of tongue–is both good writing and good acting.
– Poor Yanyun expecting a “we just got rescued from kidnappers” hug, and then not getting it was kind of a sad moment for her.
– WOW, GOOD TRIGGER DISCIPLINE! WOOOOOWW, for real, Liankai kept his finger off the trigger and outside the guard when not aiming it at a target. That may be the first time in any drama, any TV show, and quite a few movies, where I’ve seen that happen. I am officially impressed.
– Skinship.

Rated: Frankly, “putting family first” isn’t a winning strategy with this family….