Love and Destiny – CDrama recap – ep 30

SO, back on the epic adventures of WHAT IS THIS BOY GOING TO DO NEXT?!

Qing Yao is going to charge the officious guy “a very high consultation fee.” The soldiers and Lord Fang are watching with great interest…aaand the poor guy is going to be stuck in the lavatory for a while…while the money goes to the mother with the sick kid.

The soldier has a question for her….dun dun dun?

Back to Lin Mo! She’s in her room and then the wind bursts the doors open…it was Jiu Chen and Si Ming sneaking in. So: immortals have to undergo trials, and can die from them–and Ling Xi is going to go through hers now. Si Ming is trying to emphasize to Jiu Chen that HE MUST NOT INTERFERE AT ANY COST because this is the plan to bring her back as a goddess, without any demonic contamination in her soul, and with vastly expanded powers. SO DON’T SCREW UP THE PLAN THIS WAS YOUR PLAN JIU CHEN.

Jiu Chen says he understands but he’s also still hanging around…he’s trying to touch her but his hand is immaterial and also turning to ice. And she was sensing he was there, tooo, oh no.

Whooooooooooooops he poofed outside–and was visible. And she came out and saw him.

AAAaaand someone else is come out, so she pulls him inside her room. DUDE YOU CAN’T INTERFERE WITH HER DESTINY IF YOU WANT HER TO BE YOUR IMMORTAL GIRLFRIEND!

But Lin Mo is asking the important questions, like, “why are your hands so cold?” and running off to get medicine. (Why are his hands cold, I thought the fire spirit thing cured him of that?) Also, there’s something about a book she’s been reading that he looks very sarcastic about, but it’s not translated. Lol, she just grabs his hands and pushes them into a basin of warm water. Like, this is almost Ancient China second base you guys.

Oh boy. BOY YOU ARE GOING TO SCREW THINGS UPPPPPPPP. He’s trying to wander around her bedroom and she tries to throw him out. And finally ends up just dragging him out by hand. Lol, Lin Mo is being all sneaky and he’s just following her.

And they end up nose-to-nose, naturally. AHAHAHA She tells him to jump over the wall with martial arts instead of walking out.

He tells her he won’t be around for a few more days, and she tells him to take care of himself. And then he tells her to be broad-minded, and that once these things are over they will be much better. And then makes her close her eyes while he leaves, oh boy. So the actor was killing it. He can’t do any more than that to warn the woman he loves that things are going to suck for the next couple of days…Oh. Does he have the magic fruit ready for her yet??

So the next day, Dad is at work…an important book has arrived. But also, the Feng (??) family has gotten in trouble. The daughter of the family has been arrested. Weird. So. Out on the street, someone tells Dad about how an official has been coming by and researching into the birthdays of noble young ladies. And, uh oh, he saw Lin Mo’s birthday. UH OH IT’S THE REBEL DEMONS ISN’T IT??

So back at home, Dad gets the word: Future Father in Law came by to see Dad and missed him, but also missed him at the work.

Lin Mo, meanwhile, is conflicted about hearing some gossip about Young Lord Song from one of the maidservants. So: Young Lord Song has a fairly bad temper, and is an expert poet. Lil Sis, outside, is throwing a tantdrum over some clothes.

Anyhow. Back at work: Dad and FFIL have gotten together. FFIL has just realized that Lin Mo’s birthday: oh. OK. Lin Mo’s birthday is that of the inauspicious person whose existence is crippling the Crown Prince. That person has to die. That’s why the Feng girl had to be captured. What’s worse is that even if she isn’t the one, she’s still going to be taken–along with multiple other girls.

Dad is rushing home…oh no. The soldiers are already on the lookout for her…and the soldiers are at the door. But they get outside, into the peach forest and, oh, the lodge that Jiu Chen set up? Dad leaves her there and tells her that he will protect her at all costs…
At home, everyone is being forced to kneel while the soldiers interrogate them. The camera lingers on Grandma, significantly. Mom is fingering her prayer beads. Dad arrives.

Ok. So these guys are imperial bodyguards (and they’re wearing the same armor as the guys who were watching Qing Yao). Dad lies and says that Lin Mo is dead–she drowned in the river yesterday. The soldier scoffs…Grandma faints…soldier says that if they haven’t managed to produce a body by tomorrow, they’ll take Lil Sis….and kill everybody else as well.

Man, Ancient China justice sucked just as much as Ancient China Heaven justice.
And so does family justice. Grandma orders Dad to produce Lin Mo for the sake of the rest of the family, AKA Lil Sis. But the Mom Lady speaks up: Lin Mo wasn’t born that day because she wasn’t their biological daughter. I hope they manage to force some shame into Grandma. (….nope, she just starts having hysterics and Dad has to apologize.)

Second Mom has her turn to have hysterics and demand Lin Mo get brought back to save Lil Sis. But Grandma shuts her up finally…but also points out that they can’t just tell this to the government men, can they? Dad says, yes: the orphanage can prove it. Except the woman who he dealt with there, died years before.

And then the family starts to turn up the pressure hardcore on Dad…Grandma kneels to him and tells him that it’s his fault for adopting a deaf and mute bastard. DROP DEAD GRANDMA.

But it works. Dad makes his choice….

He goes to see Lin Mo that night, with a basket of food…is he going to poison her to death and then turn over her body? He’s not eating…and she’s not eating, either. She wants to know what is going on and why she has to hide? Can she help? No, Dad says, it’s all in the past…

Oh gosh.

He poisoned her.

She’s…dead?

QuikReview – The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

7b5287a1d4-64a5-466d-a2e1-a0eb9e67556a7dimg400I feel slightly cheated. Is there a bear? Maybe? But he’s actually human-shaped? And there’s no nightingale, unless you mean the horse, excuse me, Horse, who is named Nightingale. Huh?

Also, while the pacing is pretty good and the tension is pitched expertly–slowly ratcheting with increments of dread and shock–there isn’t really enough plot to justify it. (Plot: it gets cold in winter in Russia, especially fantasy versions of it where the Winter is an actual spirit and ditto Bear[s].)

Further, annoyingly, while the author is demonstrably able to create and handle fleshed-out characters who are interesting and sympathetic while having their own agenda, there are multiple instances where she simply chooses not to. The “evil”/insane stepmother (who is merely desperately frightened of the household spirits only she can see) is one of them–because she has an antagonist’s role, she’s left pancake-flat and hissingly hateful, instead of pitiably hateful, or despicably pitiable, or simply, well, understandably antagonistic. Ditto for the Winter/Death guy. I have no idea what his personality is or why he has any particular interest in keeping the villain suppressed in the first place. He’s Smug Cocky Romance Novel Guy (On a White Horse) in every scene, so…

Oh yeah, and the entire plot is a slam on Christianity. Which is fine of itself–The Old Magics versus The White God is a tried-and-true scenario–but it is, like the characters, a deliberately simplistic and un-nuanced take on the matter. Stronger villains equal stronger stories; antagonists who have almost the correct take on a situation are better foils to the heroes. The author had the option to make the conflict deeper, but chose not to. And the story suffers for it.

Despite those drawbacks, this is undeniably an interesting book, not for reasons of its ostensible plot. Mostly what I found fascinating was the fact that it managed to succeed in an area it didn’t intend to: it’s heroine isn’t a Mary Sue–when, by all lights, she really, really should be.

Vasilisa/Vasya is: exotically beautiful, personally remarkable and often-remarked on, the almost-permanent object of all other characters’ attention (favorable or unfavorable); selfless (in a way that brings praise and notice), courageous (ditto), morally correct in all her actions even in face of social disapproval, and (many times reiterated) A Chosen One/Very Important Character…(who likes horses! Because, uh, strong female characters like horses, correct?) (THIS IS NOT OKAY. DECOLONIZE FANTASY NOVELS NOW. STOP APPROPRIATING TOMBOY HORSEGIRL CULTURE! HORSEGIRL LIVES MATTER).

ahem, okay, sorry, I was getting to the BUT and then I got carried away, so:

…BUT: she only finds that she is (a/the) Chosen One at the very end and it makes very little difference to her at this point; her utmost and best efforts at solving the plot-problems just barely suffice–and sometimes don’t work at all, with tragic effect–she often requires help just with these basic steps from other characters who have basically the same power level and information that she does. And, at the end–it isn’t she who ultimately saves the day.

Nevertheless, the day does get saved, Big Damn Heroes-style, it’s a totally awesome scene and it was worth reading. Now, if only the author had written her book about that guy to begin with…

Rated: I was promised bears. There were no bears.