I have to work, and I have to prep for an interview, and I have to buy food, and I have to work out. So here’s Episode 2 of a Chinese drama instead of the actual review of Peace Talks.
Lil’Sis immediately bumps into Lord Lu and a bunch of other mooks. Heroine attempts to run to the rescue, but Big Brother accupuncture-stuns her. A’Nu refuses to speak to Lord Lu, so he stabs her in the neck. SLOWLY. DAMN.
OH MY GOD SHE LOOKS OVER AND SEES HER FRIENDS AND SMILES AT THEM, then grabs the blade and slashes her throat the rest of the way. OK, with barely any screentime, this character manages to make a genuine impression. Nice.
So. The Dowager is hovering over the stabbed guy. Our hero is still MIA, hopefully burned to death in a locked library. No, I’m not rooting for the villain already, what? Why would I do that just because he’s handsome and good at martial arts? The Prince guy’s friend (look, do I know his name? No. Does he have any identifying marks? No. So, you know, that guy) immediately tries to have Lord Lu, who wanders in, arrested and tortured. Lord Lu’s friend protests that that’s complete slander, but then the Prince does show up, completely unburned. Darn it.
(PWAH, he rigged up a frigging battering ram with a rope and a ladder?!) And then he gives the order to arrest Lord Lu. Once again, Lord Lu’s friend jumps to his defence. Lord Lu, for all we know completely honestly (and with a complete calm that is kind of impressive given that he’s talking to royals who would prefer him to be kowtowing look I like this guy, OK? and I don’t have any particular reason to not like him, and I don’t have any reason to like the Prince. SO SUE ME), points out that he had absolutely no idea they were going to do this, and that he’s had plenty of opportunities to assassinate the Prince already.
Some guy in a funky hat pops up to state that although he! tried to stop it! Lord Lu and his men killed all the assassins they got a hold of! The Prince gloats a bit that, boy, that kinda makes it look bad for you, don’t it, Lord Lu. Lord Lu, for his part, says, “Yeah, man, those soldiers I brought with me sure are good at killing, aren’t they? Loyal little buggers. Brutal.” [glare.] [glare]
The Dowager defuses the situation, and the Prince volunteers to do the interrogating himself, when the culprits are found. Then he brushes off the Princess Consort (is that his wife? Sister?) and leaves, with a final glare.
Elsewhere, Lord Lu is talking to his sidekick: he genuinely didn’t know the dancers were also assassins. And while they’re both after the Prince, he’s the one feeling the heat unless they get caught. So: keep one alive.
Elsewhere: the Prince is talking to his two sidekicks: Funky Hat and Pointy Chin guy. Pointy knows that there is still one dancer in the troupe alive. Prince says: just follow Lord Lu’s people, he’s the one who’s going to be really worried about finding her. (Note: it looks like this drama is going to lean hard on “People in authority can’t be blamed for troubles! They just don’t know about it! The real culprits are the lower down people in authority! If Comrade Stalin knew about our sufferings he definitely would do something about it!” Ah well, if you are producing entertainment media in an oppressive government regime, you’ve got to toe the party line, I guess. Anyhow, I’m rooting for the villain anyway.)–the Prince is innocent of harm; his brother the Emperor is possibly innocent…the real villain is that dastardly Lord Lu! Who…has in two episodes not done anything except be badass and slightly smug.
But I digress.
Elsewhere, Heroine (clutching A’Nu’s bracelet) and Brother Assassin have taken shelter. Heroine, when she wakes up, is pissed that it was apparently already part of the official plan for everyone else–including A’Nu– to die and her to escape. She tries to storm off, but Brother dissuades her! He’s also sad about it! But! They have to obey orders. Because. Now they have to avenge them! You can’t let our brothers and sisters down! ((Not letting them die would have been a good start.))
(Heroine’s name is Li Ge?)
So after blubbering a while, LiGe is outside brooding and flashbacking. The old lady of the house is asking pointed questions about her bracelet, but just right then Brother Assassin shows up, just ahead of the search party. Granny and the kids hide them….INEPTLY…I MEAN SERIOUSLY, THEIR ENTIRE FACES ARE STICKING OUT…
And with their normal mook competence, the searchers find nothing. So the next morning, LiGe is in a war outfit and marching off with a sword to complete the mission. Assassin Brother and some kid with a freaking crossbow also volunteer to go along? Heroine dramatically puts on a big hat with a flowy veil.
Elsewhere! Lord Lu is presiding over what looks like a pile of bodies? And then Heroine fires a flaming arrow into the pile? She and Brother Assassin shoot at Lord Lu and then run off.
This action scene is not nearly as good as in the first episode, let me tell you. Sheeeeeeeesh. The trick was the ACTION, NOT THE FLOWY VEILS, SHEESH GUYS.
(the bodies were their friends, and Brother Assassin pours one out for their homies. That’s nice, but..)wait, was that IT? YEGADS, did you guys utterly and totally blow through the budget that fast?
So back at the house where they’re staying, Nice Old Lady has brought someone to see LiGe. That is the Dowager? No? Huh? She immediately freaks out and starts calling her Jia’er. (Lady, she took that bracelet off someone else. Unless someone else also took it from her first?) Aaaand then faints.
So, in the house/palace, Mom and Other Little Sister (actually her cousin?) are staring at her and trying to get her to drink/eat, whatever. One of the other siblings shows up (his name is Feng) and OH. OK.
SO: this is the family of Pointy Chin Army Guy (who stopped Lord Lu from killing her when he had her on the ropes in episode 1). OKAY, now I see what’s going to happen here. The Prince is going to marry her in order to strengthen the ties between their familes because he needs military support. Little knowing that, dun dun dun, she is actually an assassin. Gah, I really still want Lord Lu to win.
Pointy shows up and is dubious.
Anyhow, not-actually-Mom “proves” it’s her by smashing the bracelet. There’s actually another bracelet inside the bracelet…and everybody is overjoyed that their sister is home at last. Never mind that this person has been extremely quiet and sullen.
Also, Miss Cousin gets manhandled by Actually Mom for asking questions…but bounces back. Possibly.
OK, so back at the palace, the Dowager is hovering over the stabbed guy and begging him to come back to her. She is also refusing to see Lord Lu–because she’s already done everything she humanly can for him. (hm?)
Elsewhere! Lord Lu gets a report from Green Sidekick. The Prince has been clearing house, so they’ve only got one guy on the inside, now. Sidekick says that the situation is urgent! Lord Lu says: just be patient; there are lots of people who want to kill the Prince. Lord Lu still wants that assassin, especially after the whole burning the bodies right under his nose thing.
So back with our heroine (who is in her underwear). Now, she and Assassin Brother both know it’s unlikely that A’Nu was the general’s kidnapped daughter, but there is the bracelet, and there’s “mother’s intuition” (yeah right). Assassin Bro says that splitting up (he and the kid can hide in a pharmacy), she going with the family, is a good idea. Hiding in plain sight and being close to the center of power is a good idea.
But anyhow. Miss Cousin is trying to be super friendly, but keeps bouncing off. (is Miss Cousin played by Tiffany Tang?)
So meanwhile, the stabbed prince wakes up, and he is also convinced that it is Lord Lu who is behind this all. (The Dowager has an interesting reaction to this), and lol, every time he says Lord Lu’s name, Prince-Hero has to fake a coughing fit. OK, wait, so I missed the details, but: Lord Lu is somehow related (closely) to the Dowager and therefore to the imperial family/throne.
Well that explains why he thinks he can take it.
So: the momentum is slowing down already, there’s no action, I still have no idea why we’re supposed to root for the hero as opposed to the villain, but the cinematography/blah whatever, colors are still pretty OK and the characters haven’t automatically necessarily stopped being badass yet.