Drama (re)Review – An Oriental Odyssey

an2boriental2bodyssey2b0So, this one is about this girl (Ye Yuan’an) who buys a slave boy in the market to keep him from being beaten to death (Mu Le) while she’s helping this cute but uptight police captain (Lanzhi) investigate a case of opium smuggling. Mu Le turns out to have: amnesia, super strength, martial arts skills, and (soon) insane levels of loyalty to Yuan’an. And, seriously, she’s a really excellent heroine whom anyone would fall in love with. But anyhow, the plot progresses, slowly introducing more supernatural elements as it goes on. The trio next have to solve the case of the murderous skinwalker, with help from Yuan’an’s wacky mentor/inventor who lives in the basement. oriental0

Meanwhile, there’s Princess (Infanta?!) Minghui, the apprentice of the Grand Vizier, a monk who twenty years before was the sole survivor of a massacre at the temple. You see, when the Old Master died, one other monk (Tianshu) went mad and stole the Divine Beads. The Grand Vizier wants them back. And there are some rather interesting narrative choices here, because the camera flat-out lies when it’s showing flashbacks about this for the first twenty-odd episodes. Anyhow, Minghui is an interesting character, because the man she’s closest to loving is killed by Lanzhi (who happens to be his old friend for extra emotional torque) around episode 4ish, her mentor is evil and cruel to her, and she has no support team (unlike the heroes)….and yet over the first twenty episodes she flawlessly retrieves the Divine Beads. Mind, the heroes are only one step behind her at any point, but she does get them back.

Mu Le’s character also develops over this period and his relationship with Yuan’an, as well as her relationships with the other characters, and own character development, occur. The first twenty episodes are really excellent, as Minghui is focused on recovering the Divine Pearls and the plot moves briskly. After they do recover the Beads, the next ten or so episodes are a bit slower in pace, but still character-focused. Basically, Minghui’s decided that she’s in love with Lanzhi–an2boriental2bodyssey2b2bstills2b2986_83472….so she blackmails him into marrying her (wait, what?) In direct response to this, Yuan’an marries Mu Le.

But then Yuan’an freaks out, bites him on the arm, and when he runs off to blow off some very understandable steam in the woods, his former bodyguard pops up and restores his original memories…at the cost of his recent ones. Turns out, he’s a prince of Suoluo (Some Thailand-ish place where they wear even sillier hats than they do in Tang China), and his mission was to get (back) the Divine Beads to heal his father. He gets them and goes home….while the Empress flips the everliving hell out and decrees that she’s going to kill Ye Yuan’an, Zhao Lanzhi, Infanta Minghui, Wacky Mentor Tianshu and, oh yes, everyone in their families and anyone related to them, if she doesn’t get the Beads back.

Episodes thirty-ish to forty-ish follow Yuan’an as she tries to get the Beads back. But she’s in unfamiliar territory and the man she (can’t admit) she loves, doesn’t remember her. And her so-called ally…isn’t. Long story short, although she makes a good start (I was honestly impressed by how well she was doing, keeping her temper while serving as a palace maid and foiling two assassination attempts), Yuan’an still ends up having to be rescued by the team and they have to start over. (Because they can teleport, now.)

So! They can time travel now! (Wait, what?) Yuan’an comes up with the brilliant idea of traveling back in time and assassinating Mu Le (Ah Ying). The fact that it won’t work (aside from the fact that Yuan’an really obviously can’t bring herself to kill him) is finally sussed out by the team….meaning that Wacky Mentor Tianshu knew it and is allowing it to happen on purpose. Also, he’s dead. Ish. The plot doesn’t actually grind to a halt, because we get to see what happened to Prince Ah Ying’s brother, Ah Heng, who is imprisoned in the Pagoda Until He’s Sorry….but the plot basically grinds to a halt, because this section of the story is handled incredibly poorly and the pacing is terrible.

But! We get to see a little of the old Yuan’an–a generous, brave, and loyal girl who anybody would fall in love with easily–which is nice, I missed her. oriental3But mostly: Ah Heng was interested in sorcery, which is BAD and ILLEGAL. While he escapes punishment the first time, his bestest friend (Just friend. Friend! What part of friend don’t you understand?!), gets his eyes put out. Ah Heng’s next actions are to infect Ah Ying with Red Dragon Monster Blood, and then to attempt assassination of their father the King….necessitating Prince Ah Ying to go to Tang China to retrieve the Beads.

The writing during this arc is really weak.

Anyhow, by the time Yuan’an realizes that changing the past isn’t possible, time is running out back at home, so the team makes another raid attempt on the palace. This is episode forty-five or so, and it’s the weakest one yet, just because everyone is so freaking illogical, dumb, and inconsistent during it. But, anyhow, one weak arc and a bad episode in a good show doesn’t ruin everything about it, right?

So! The heroine gets turned into a blue bat. (Wait, WHAT?!) OK, I’m willing to say that the plot genuinely went went off the rails here. Long story short: using the Divine Beads to cure a king, good. Using Divine Beads to cure your country’s wounded soldiers and incidentally your girlfriend? Bad. Ah Heng makes his comeback and our hero and heroine end up tortured and in prison. The benefit of this is that Mama Suoluo is finally impressed by their devotion and decides not to kill them. The downside is: Ah Ying’s been tortured and lost his kung fu, exiled, and Yuan’an’s also kind of a wimp now, which sucks. Also, they’ve been framed for murder and treason, again.

However, at this extremity, they turn out to have an ally: bodyguard Zhenzhen, who has until now been working (reluctantly) for the bad guys. Push come to shove, she’s actually loyal to Ah Ying. She’s able to heal Ah Ying’s IMPALED SHOULDERBLADES and give him back his kung fu…and promptly dies. Welp. She was…ok, I guess. Actually, she was a rather cool character even on limited screentime, so it’s a pity she didn’t get more development.

So. Although the populace is actually very receptive to Prince Ah Ying’s side of the story, Ah Heng has soldiers and Divine Beads. Our heroes are about to be executed (AGAIN), when WAIT WHAT, Minghui and Lanzhi show up to the rescue. A flashback reveals how they survived the last raid and confirms my opinion that Minghui is the most competent antiheroine in this show.

Our heroes prepare for another, and since it’s now episode 49, you’d THINK final, raid. They have two objectives: kill Evil Sorcerer, and restore the true monarchy. So naturally they fail and then they get trapped in a magic maze. But! After they take ten minutes out of the last freaking episode to get out of the maze, they get down to business. (After another fiveish minutes of arguing about things. GUYS…)

So to wrap up the story, there is a confrontation, and a creepy reveal that would have worked better if the people who directed the earlier episodes had also been directing now, and then an epic (but unfortunately horribly CGI’d) fight scene and the good guys win….at the cost of the hero’s life.

(He comes back from the spirit world thirty seconds before the episode ends, so there’s that.)

So overall: I loved this one for the first twenty-odd episodes, liked it a lot for the next ten; but while the last tennish episodes of the series had their good points, the writing was much, much weaker–too weak to support what ought to have been a pretty damn good story, with time travel and magic and split personalities and vengeful royal twins.

The acting is a standout in this one. I’d never heard of Janice Wu, but apparently she’s got a following. And it’s well-deserved. She takes a pretty standard character–Spunky Heroine Girl–and plays it in a naturalistic way never overdoes the cutesiness, which is what tends to be the bane of most CDrama heroines. So even when Yuan’an’s character was an indecisive, incoherent mess, she was watchable.

Zhang Ye Cheng, as the main hero, was great as Mu Le and slightly less great as Ah Ying; as the naive horseboy, he was excellent with having fewer lines and using body language and facial expressions. oriental2As the prince…he lacked gravitas. And that’s fine, because our other male lead, Zhang Yu Jian, has got gravitas up the wazoo and is kind of, well, wooden. Handsome, sure, but wooden. Kiki Dong, as Minghui, has a conflicted and interesting character and does fine with it; she doesn’t seem to have anything spectacular going on.

The other standout is Micky Yuan as Wacky Mentor Tianshu, and my gosh I loved him.oriental1

Speaking of characters: while it’s sometimes hair-tearingly frustrating to see people embroiled in desperate romances and willing to die for their True Love; or when the heroes are getting praised and rewarded when you, the audience, know They Ain’t All That…Yuan’an is a heroine who men would fall in love with and whose friends would die for her…because she loves her friends, she is loyal to them, and she would die for them, too–and we are shown this, not told it. We are repeatedly shown how Yuan’an is randomly kind to people, how she helps people who need it, and how she just won’t stop if she’s doing what she thinks is the right thing–even under threat of disgrace or death. Also, she’s good at martial arts. I really, really liked her for that. Unfortunately, by episode 40 she’s reduced to a shadow of herself, but…well…

Mu Le is a good character, too. Until around episode thirty…five? Somewhere around there.

Lanzhi stops being relevant after Minghui blackmails him into marrying her…because then he gets infected with the male version of chickified….slowly falling for his, well, wife, after witnessing the depths of her devotion for him. Before that, he was only sporadically interesting when he gave the official gravitas a rest and also stopped lecturing Yuan’an about the sanctity of The Law. You’re in jiang hu China, boy; there is no freaking justice in the law.

Again, Minghui had what should have been the meatiest part–an highly competent antagonist who has nevertheless been forced into that role by an evil mentor, who is lonely, resents the heroes for their victories against her, and at the same time envies them for their comraderie, and then falls for one of them….but doesn’t at all know how to go about this whole “being good” business. Let’s just say she was doing really pretty well until she poisoned the heroine to blackmail the the second lead into marrying her. That’s the sort of thing that usually takes death to redeem, but, y’know…I like Minghui and I’ll give her a pass because she did try hard in the best way she knew how, poor girl.

Let me take a minute to say how much I freaking LOVED Wacky Mentor Monk Tianshu. He is seriously one of the best mentor characters in all fiction. A good mentor can make a hero. A GREAT mentor can make a hero gadgets, come up with cunning plans, teach them to kill enemies, console them in romantic troubles, rescue them in dire straits, and laugh at them when they get into trouble. Tianshu ROCKS. He’s the best character in the show and, well, I can’t really even be mad about how he dies because unlike everybody else in the last ten episodes, he stays largely consistent and he goes out like a (unrecognized and unremembered, sob) hero. But, man, Tianshu ROCKS.

Lets see, anything else? The fight scenes were pretty darned good and not at all infrequent for the first half, sparser in the second half, and while they did get more CGI’d and less convincing, at least they were still there near the end. So there’s that.

So overall…If they’d left the first thirty-two episodes (until Mu Le regains his memories) as is and condensed the rest of it down into, say, eight episodes, it would have been a serious contender for my newest favorite Cdrama. As is…the last ten episodes drag down the overal series…and the last five really drag. And, I literally bingewatched it for about eighteen hours. (In my defense, quarantine.)

Rated: 3.5/5

How to catch up on your chinese dramas

maxresdefault“So the heroine is in a spot where she has to die in about three days so she can be reincarnated as her immortal self, but there’s this one guy who is in love with her as a mortal and he’s like, ‘No way, nuh-uh, no one’s taking you.’ But if she doesn’t die, she’s going to be screwed because they’re going to take away the thing that’s keeping her original self alive and give it back to the hero because he gave up his heart for the other thingy and he’s going to die if he doesn’t get it back soon.”
“So we want her to die.”

“Yeah, she has to die, but she’s worried because she doesn’t actually know that and she’s thinking the hero only liked her for her past self. But the guy who likes the heroine as a mortal is up to his eyeballs in this other plot. He wants to get revenge on this other guy who is down in the spirit world right next door to hell–but not quite there, he’s not actually fully dead–and they hate him so much they’re going to bring him back from there just so they can kill him properly this time. And if they do that, there’s a chance that the demon king will be able to come back from hell, too, which is why they sent the heroine to Earth in the first place, so she’ll die and the demon king won’t be able to come back. Also, the guy everyone hates is her grandfather and her mother just jumped into the spirit world abyss to get away from the people who had her and bumped into him down there.”


“And the reason the mother had to jump into the abyss is because she was rescued by the guy who is in love with her adopted daughter, who is kind of a psycho–but she’s very cute–and, uh, she wasn’t rescued well enough.”

“You lost me again.”

“Yeah, I love hearing about this show from Riders because I can follow it in bits and then she says something else and it stops making sense again.”

“Well, they were going to use the mother to open the gate of hell, but now they’re probably going to have to use the heroine. Except that the person who is trying to open the gate is the guy who likes her and doesn’t want her to die. And then there’s the bit with the heroine’s older sister and the hero’s younger brother. They’re having a romance and it’s very funny and cute, but it’s on hold because the brother got turned to stone for a thousand years.”

“…Oh, okay then!”

“Oh yeah, and then there’s this evil girl who is in love with the hero and she’s making aaall the wrong decisions. She’s awful.”

“See, now I’m completely caught up. I can jump in at episode forty-nine and be just watchin’ right along with you.”

(Start here)

The Rebel Princess – Episode 11 – Recap

Previously on: our heroine was rescued after having been kidnapped by a group wanting vengeance against her husband (who had destroyed their land and villages.) These guys were kind of losers, but they were also being backed up by unknown sources from the capital, which made rescuing her difficult until a “freak training accident” involving grenades to the face manages to get rid of the imperial representative. Also, it turns out that the heroine’s loyal maidservant Jin’er is actually in love with Prince #3 (A’Wu’s childhood romance) and has just been manipulated into putting on A’Wu’s clothes and perfumes and going over to pay the drunken Prince a comforting visit. Yeahhhhhhh….

So anyhow, Jin’er is dressed up like A’Wu and perfumed up (with A’Wu’s perfumes) and sent in to see Prince #3. Who has been drinking and staring at his pictures of A’Wu. Fade to black.

Back at the court, the Emperor is not paying much attention things, the Grand Vizier is standing around smirking a lot, and the Crown Prince is starting to be the one saying “approve” to courtly proposals when news rushes in that A’Wu is found and okay, and that XQ has survived well. Prince #2 and Lord Huan exchange alarmed glances. The Crown Prince is overjoyed, bless his little heart. But the Emperor, who has been just sitting slumped over, laughs and then breaks down in tears. News also comes to Aunty Empress. She’s honestly relieved about this also, as are Mom and Brother.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is learning about the travails of frontier life, such as only bathing once a month or having to hike ten miles to bathe in the rivers. Worse, this applies to her husband, too. Worse still, no one at the fort has any sense of style AT ALL. A’Wu, however, is missing Jin’er and hopes she’s okay.

(She is, but Prince #3 is having a bit of a brood anyway). Aaaaand that’s when news of A’Wu being found arrives.

A’Wu has also started asking questions about her husband. Apparently, he has no hobbies other than being busy, reading books, and practicing swordsmanship. (Boring). A’Wu also gets into a spat with one of the head maidservants, Xing’er, who makes the mistake of being too much of a stuck-up smartass and also annoying.

Jin’er, meanwhile, hears the other maids gossiping about her.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is about to have to deal with Xing’er’s older, fatter, bossier counterpart, Mrs. Lu. A’Wu orders that they go and kneel in the courtyard, regardless of their rank. I have a feeling that the court versus country discipline/manners thing is going to cause problems pretty soon.

Not to be suppressed, Mrs Lu heads over to XQ to complain about things….not that it actually does any good. XQ backs up his wife immediately and goes back to discussing politics. He and his men are monitoring the royal family’s activity.

Oh, the current crisis is: the Emperor’s brother, under pretext of a friendly visit, has shown up with 150,000 soldiers. Hah. All the ministers are milling around and flapping their sleeves a bunch, as they tend to do. Prince #2 is hanging around in the background, not at all suspiciously. The Crown Prince has sent for the Grand Vizier, but he and his smirk haven’t shown up yet at all. This guy, King J, was the runner-up for the throne back in the day and now is probably coming back for his revenge and just dues. Whats worse, he’s a skilled soldier and has veteran troops and then have none. None at all.

(Prince #2 sends a looooong, considering look at Lord Huan).

Possibly because their main general is kind of busy trying to get his wife to look him in the face. But the boy does got game, though, and has soon convinced her to go for a walk with him. (All the troops cheer, when they see her, lol, and XQ tells her just to roll with it.)

So. XQ hasn’t been around much because he’s been over at the border…sending Liupan Guy (okay, fine, Helan Zhen) back home. Miraculously, he survived one arm being cut off and falling into a bottomless chasm, although I’m going to guess not by turning himself into a mechanical spider-legged hybrid sustained by the Dark Side of the Force and hatred. HZ is the only remaining son (albeit illegitemate) of the king of Hulan and the heir. However, he also has a cousin-rival for that position, who was the one who actually destroyed Liupan in an attempt to displace HZ from the throne and lay the blame on XQ.

XQ let HZ go back to fight his cousin so they can squabble amongst themselves–which works out for his benefit and the safety of the realm. A’Wu is impressed by his planning skills. But then she points out that XQ is using her as a pawn in his plans as well, and that she doesn’t like it.

He tries to change the subject, but she calls him a coward for it. He replies that she does not want to hear the truth, but if she’s strong enough and willing, he will.

XQ says: There was a border emergency. On our wedding night. It was absolutely no coincidence. I did not want to marry you and I was also forced into it. Your father set this all up because he wants my army. I have absolutely no desire to be involved in capitol plots and didn’t want to get between you and your true love. The so-called border emergency was just me getting the hell out of Dodge because I’m scared of your psycho grand vizier father.

A’Wu is mostly impressed that he’s not actually in cahoots with her father. Unfortunately, this means she realizes that her father is behind most of what’s been happening. She breaks down and asks for some privacy, but then calls him back.

Hey, a hug! That’s definitely progress on both their parts!

Xiao Qi tells her that she is his princess now and his woman. She’s not allowed to be weak. The camera then wanders discreetly off, so I’m going to assume that this is our official fade-to-sex.

Back at the capital, Grand Vizier Lord Wang Dad is taking some night air when he sees his son coming in through the back gate….and orders him to go back home and pretend to be a happy couple with Huan Mi since her father’s at home. Also, if your concubine has a boy, he’s going out to a farm and by farm, I mean we’re going to expose him on a rock. We need the Huan Family’s support, OK? So I need a legitimate male grandchild.

Brother Su points out that: the Xie Family is no more, the Crown Prince is in a stable position, and the Empress is in power. Shouldn’t that be enough? (No.)

Prince #2, meanwhile, is cuddling up with his concubine….wait. Wait. Wait. Is his girlfriend also Brother Su’s wife, Huan Mi? HOOOOoooo BOY.

Back at the fort, the two snooty girls A’Wu press-ganged into being her junior handmaids, are begging for help from Mrs. Lu (the fort’s steward and also their aunty). A’Wu susses out that they actually hope to catch XQ’s eye and become concubines. A’Wu says: I don’t mean to punish them. Just throw them out of the house. NOW.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 11 – Recap

PREVIOUSLY ON:  A’Wu was kidnapped by flying ninjas who bear a grudge against her husband. He, meanwhile, is prevented from galloping directly to the rescue by rather suspiciously-timed orders which require his presence at a military parade. Instead of, y’know, guarding the border. He’s got a plan to get around that, but then again so do the ninjas, and theirs involves suicide bomb vests and decoys wearing A’Wu’s clothes.

Anyhow: back at camp, news comes that the imperial envoy is on his way. And thus, with much slow-mo and dramatic flapping of banners, beating of drums, and slinking about in black cloaks, it begins.

Xu Shou and his escort ride into the camp to watch the military parade, which, to this show’s budget’s credit, is pretty impressive for the first five original shots, but gets less so when they start repeating.

So naturally we cut away to something far less interesting: Prince #3 kneeling at the palace door, while the Emperor refuses to see him. Eh? Ah, it’s to keep suspicions from the Empress low. But she is merely nervous in general, given that the ostensibly-insane Emperor is now a lot less predictable. And she feels that there is some sort of third party involved in all this…

Meanwhile the parade progresses. XQ and Xu Shou ride down to observe it closer. Liupan Guy, A’Wu, and their cohort, observe from behind a rock. XQ’s guys suddenly accelerate, leaving XS and his bodyguards trapped inside a ring of shields. And then the grenades roll in. Well that was excessive. What happened to just stabbing people?

Liupan Guy and his men now sound the attack. This involves ninjas jumping out of water barrels, because of course it does. But at least XQ gets to actually draw his sword and do something.

But! Decoy XY and others are up on a tower and A’Wu is elsewhere.

XQ orders that his men clear the way.

The decoy guy with XY says: face me in single combat! (btw, XY do you like me y/n/maybe?)

And then a couple of archers try to shoot XQ when he rides forward but that doesn’t work. And then Swordsgirl arrives and kills Decoy Guy and Xiaoye falls off the tower and XQ grabs her…only for everyone to realize at that moment that she’s fake. He then throws her far enough away that the suicide vest going off doesn’t get him, or apparently anybody else.

Poor XQ is just standing there kind of in shock, but fortunately this is when Liupan Guy and A’Wu do make their appearance.

Liupan Guy says: face me in single combat!

XQ says: OK, sure.

And, when his men protest, he says: Trust me.

So he gallops off after them but hasn’t caught up by the time they reach the rickety looking rope bridge over the bottomless cavern that is the boundary between the barbarian steppes and China.

Liupan Guy says, hey, don’t worry, I’ll marry you!

A’Wu says: Even if he doesn’t kill you, I will.

And then the arrows start flying. Liupan Guy rushes A’Wu towards the bridge, but then….

Hah, XQ is on the other side of it. And it’s a three-on-one fight (at least before the other soldiers start showing up, so, seems like his sidekicks are sensible enough to ignore orders when they need to). XQ takes care of that side of the bridge, but Liupan Guy still has A’Wu–and A’Wu still has the suicide belt. She screams for him not to come over (and LG threatens to throw her over the edge).

XQ says: We can all die together then.

Liupan Guy says: FINE.

So he throws himself and A’Wu off the bridge, but XQ cuts his hand off and catches her. Very romantic. Finally.

Back in the capital, Wan’ru has heard that #3 is back. And….she’s upset that he hasn’t taken revenge for his mother and is still obsessed with the enemy’s daughter. Who used to be her best friend, let us not forget. Jin’er is also there.

Grand Vizier Dad comes over to let Aunty Empress know that no, there has been no news of A’Wu and that it would take several days for any to get there, anyway.

Wan’ru is putting on the crocodile tears for Jin’er, but it’s just an opening gambit. She wants to know what Jin’er’s feelings are towards the Grand Vizier Dad. Jin’er answers that her interest is Prince #3, actually, and she’s been helping A’Wu all these years just so, if they get together, she can be close to them both. Wan’ru looks honestly affected at this, but she also sees an opportunity.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is busy having nightmares but wakes up to hear XQ asking the doctors when she’s going to wake up (it’s been two days). His sidekicks try to reassure him, but he’s not really happy with himself for letting this all happen in the first place.

Knowing that A’Wu is listening, however, he goes into apologize to her and assure her that he can send her back home if she wants to go and not stay.

A’Wu doesn’t really want to accept his help or his presence, but she’s too weak to drink her medicine herself. So XQ, very romantically, spoon-feeds her and then tucks her back in when she falls asleep again.

Wan’ru, meanwhile, is still being showered with presence by the Crown Prince. It’s not enough to assuage her anger, and her plans for Jin’er don’t bode well for A’Wu.

Back at the barracks, XQ is sidling up to change A’Wu’s bandages. Vvvvvvery romantic. She’s not having any part of it, though. He promises to send her home whenever she wants….as long as she’s fine. But even this is coming on kind of strong, because she’s looking kind of terrified. Poor guy only wants his wife to like the things he does and the places he does. His wife, meanwhile, is wondering exactly what is going on here with her pounding heart, strange new feelings, etc.

So we cut back to Wan’ru dressing Jin’er up in nice clothes. And the next episode is “Zi Tan (#3) mistakenly identified Su Jin’er as Wang Xuan”), so….

One more episode. Just one. Just one, I promise!

The Rebel Princses – Episode 10 – Recap

Previously on: our heroine was kidnapped by flying ninjas who have a grudge against her husband, and is in eventual danger when their plot comes into fruition but a lot more immediate danger from the crazily jealous ninja girl. Her husband has been prevented, by nefarious plots, from going directly to the rescue. Her faithful maidservant (who is actually in love with the guy who our heroine is in love with) went to go fetch said guy so he could go help look, despite the fact that he’s supposed to be under house arrest. Remarkably, everyone else is even less useful.

So Prince #3 and Jin’er have been searching, somehow accompanied by soldiers. They aren’t finding anything but keep at it. News of this reaches the Lord Xie in his exile. He wants to see the boy….to chew him out for being concerned for a woman who is a) the daughter of their enemy, the Wangs, b) married to someone else. Lord Xie is unimpressed with the idea that #3 is trying to redeem himself for abandoning A’Wu before: it’s not possible to make a comeback for something like that, and anyway, we have a blood feud going. #3 says, sure, you’re right, but I do want her to be safe. Lord Xie fumes a bit.

A’Wu and her captors have stopped for the night.

Meanwhile elsewhere, Grand Vizier Dad has arrived somewhere and finds some guy (? the governor of the city?) begging for mercy for allowing the princess to have been kidnapped on his watch.

Dad says: listen up. I don’t have anything against you, but I’ll have your entire family buried alive if she is harmed. The guy then begs his way in to see the Eldest Princess (I think he means A’Wu’s mother, but who he gets is A’Wu’s sister in law, her useless brother’s ignored wife). She sends for A’Wu’s mother….who everyone has been carefully keeping the news away from. (We’re going to learn later why Wifey doesn’t like this family and it’s a doozy. I mean, other than the obvious reasons why.)

Mom is, of course, shattered to hear that something has happened to A’Wu.

At the inn, Xiaoye and A’Wu are at it again. Xiaoye makes A’Wu eat bread that has fallen on the floor, but A’Wu does get her hands untied in the bargain….until one of the guys brings in some nice stew the Young Master ordered for A’Wu specially. HAH, lol, A’Wu locks XY outside when she goes out to throw the soup away. Then she….sets the door on fire?

Liupan Guy says: don’t panic, just make sure the horses are all tied down.

Back at home, Grand Vizier Dad arrives. Mom is still passed out. He is able to tell the brother that he’s sent word to Xiao Qi and this should allow him to take action himself. Brother doubts that XQ (who ran off on the wedding night) actually cares, but Dad points out that he is allied with the Wang Family now, not to mention a danger to the Emperor. If he doesn’t toe the line, he’ll get his one way or the other.

Brother then finds the time to complain about his wife. (Really, can’t blame her too much: her husband has been ignoring her in favor of knocking up concubines, and yet she takes the blame for not producing grandchildren.)

Elsewhere, Prince #2 is assuring his faceless and nameless girlfriend that she’ll be there with him when he becomes king. Trust him. (I wouldn’t, but…)

Prince #3 and Jin’er are heading back to the capital now. They’re not giving up on A’Wu, but there is still the Lord Xie, looking suspicious.

Back at the caravan, A’Wu gets caught, again. But! XQ’s Swordsgirl Sidekick is there! It’s a rescue! Not a very good one, because we spend about three minutes just in one section of the corridor-set, dodging behind walls and they’re all the same wall! A’Wu takes command. They obviously can’t escape together, or right now. She knows that there is some sort of thing happening, using her as bait, in three days, and that XQ is the target. She’s safe enough–for the next three days–and so decoys off the pursuit, sending them with the message: Tell XQ three days–I’ll be waiting.

Swordsgirl stays to defend the princess secretly and the other guy goes out to carry word.

Meanwhile, the poor governor guy has arrived home and now that he upset Mama Wang, he’s really worried about his continued existence, lol. He and his wife and family are going to make a run for it.

Back at the caravan, Xiaoye is about to get raked over the coals, and not just the ones that are still smoldering because she let the prisoner burn down the inn. So, this girl has kind of an interesting character, or would if she was given a bit more time. She’s in love with Liupan Guy and totally jealous; but she’s also at least nominally focused on their revenge plot and doesn’t want that endangered, either. Also, I think at least one of those guys is in love with her.

OH MY GOSH HE ORDERS THAT ONE OF HER ARMS GET CUT OFF. This prompts A’Wu to speak up in her defense and Liupan Guy to decree that she’s goign to stay in his rooms for the night. For safety.

Back at the governor’s house, a woman comes to the door. She says: if you want to live, follow me. So he goes off for a meeting with Lord Huan.

OKAY. So I think I’m getting the hang of this. Grand Vizier Wang’s son (Su) is married to a Huan daughter. I think that Prince #2 is also a Huan, or at least is in league with the Lord Huan. So, here we go.

Speaking of which, #2 shows up.

Liupan Guy is at the “if we met in a different lifetime, do you think we’d still be enemies” stage of their relationship. It seems that he is the child of a Liupan princess who was raped by a Hulan prince, but was later accepted into the Hulan royal family since they were getting underpopulated….Ahhhhh, was this one of the guys that XQ killed back in episode 1? Heh. Liupan Guy tried to go back and get his mother and sister out of the warzone, but it was too late. He now has a few loyal followers from the Liupan survivors, but that’s it.

He’s dead set on revenge. Except that the thought of killing A’Wu makes him a little unhappy. Oh this strange thing called sex love….

Back at the palace, the Emperor is getting a secret message from Lord Xie about the plan to kill Xiao Qi. Someone named Xu Shou is going to take over the army when he dies. Prince #3 is on his way home.

Meanwhile, Xiaoye, much subdued, shows up with clean clothes and washwater for A’Wu. She pays her debts, and she owes her existence to Liupan Guy and also is in love with him. It’s okay. She can deal with it. If he needs her to die, she will die for him and for their revenge!

A’Wu says: even though we’re not friends….woman to woman, it’s not a good idea to be infatuated with someone to this degree. Okay? Think it over, kiddo.

Cut to, uh oh. Xiaoye is dressed in A’Wu’s clothes. The other guys salute her for her courage, and the one guy who’d always been hitting on her before shows up, too, and promises to stay with her.

A’Wu then spots the imperial envoy’s emblem on Liupan Guy’s robes and blanches a little. But worse is to come. Oh shit, they’re going to put a suicide vest on her….


Liupan Guy advises her to pray that they kill Xiao Qi easily, since that means she’ll be in less danger…and then he can take her back to the steppes with him.

Meanwhile, back at the army camp, Xiao Qi and his men are standing around in their armor, fretting over whether Swordsgirl is going to be able to do the bodyguarding all by herself. And, it does look like the decoy trick is going to work on her….

END EPISODE. So, given that this is episode 10, I’m starting to be a little impatient with the device used for Xiao Qi’s characterization, which is to have him standing quietly in the background while his sidekicks bicker amongst themselves. It’s a good setup, it’s a good trick, but he has got to do something every so often and do it well. Considering that episode 11 is apparently titled “Xiao Qi heroically rescues Wang Xuan,” we’ll see….

The Rebel Princess – Episode 9 – Recap

[Previously: our heroine was kidnapped by flying ninjas, motives unknown–but her husband suspects that it’s aimed at him.]

XQ continues: if I’m the target, then she’s heading this way. He divides his forces and sends them out. And as for the guy (Xu Shou) who ordered them to do a parade?–the guy who knew she’d been taken and commands us to not go after her?

XQ says (and man, his quiet, soft voice is positively chilling here in the best possible way): entertain him well. Take very good care of him.

The sidekicks salute, beaming.

Meanwhile, A’Wu’s maidservant has gone to get Prince #3. This involves, unfortunately for him, leaving his house arrest. Oh, oh gosh. Looks like maidservant (Jin’er) has a crush on him, if her reaction to his giving her a cloak means anything. Hoooo boy.

So A’Wu’s kidnappers are sitting around discussing things. Their boss has ordered that she not be harmed. On the other hand, her being so pretty means that Xiaoye is going to torture her. Cue Xiaoye, who may or may not be a swordsgirl but definitely is someone to be careful around.

Back at home, Brother and Dad are carefully keeping the news from Mom. Brother puts on his very best face, but it’s hard on the poor boy.

And, at the kidnapping lair, the titular young master is….in bed in his underwear, being fed medicine by someone. Not an auspicious beginning. (Especially with Xiaoye, his intensely jealous female minion, still in the room.) He promptly throws XY out. A’Wu points out that a) he’s sick, b) he’s not going to kill ber, c) if he wants her to be useful, he’d better not harm her.

So this guy is from the Liupan Clan, and his grudge is against XQ because XQ wrongfully killed his family, it seems.

Back at the palace, the Emperor is awake and playing chess against himself. He’s not really in his right mind, though, it seems, and the Empress can’t get any useful help or information out of him. (He might be pretending.) She leaves, frustrated. (he is pretending, but the eunuch who is the spy for the Wangs hasn’t figured it out yet.)

A’Wu says: I heard that the Liupan had it coming when they broke their treaty oaths.

Liupan Guy promptly attempts to strangle her.

(outside, lol, one of the guys attempts to sidle up to XiaoYe, only to find a dagger in the way. She, however, is focused on her jealousy of A’Wu.)

Liupan Guy then collapses, with blood from the mouth. A’Wu grabs his knife, frees her hands, and climbs out a window. She gets to the horses, but at this point XY whacks her on the head with a stick and is about to do worse before the others catch up with them.

Empress Auntie does seem to be genuinely worried about A’Wu, because she’s asking Grand Vizier Dad for any news. He’s pieced together the information about the fake funeral/corpse, and that they are heading for the border (XQ’s territory).

Prince #2, meanwhile, has his finger in the pie to at least some degree. They think, or at least say: that Liupan Guy is working with the exiled Duke Xie and they’ll take out XQ. #2 is slightly worried at the fact that XQ dead means Xu Shou in control of the army, while he, Prince #2, still has no military support.

Meanwhile elsewhere, the Crown Prince is also upset about A’Wu being missing. He wants to issue a royal decree and mobilize massive forces, but all those old guys aren’t actually letting him. Wan’ru uses her feminine wiles to soothe and flatter him. Poor guy. He means well!

A’Wu is calm but defiant in the face of XY–which gets her a ladlefull of water to the face–but she merely goes ahead and continues to wash up anyway.

Back at the fort, some guy burns a message before XQ shows up to talk to him. XQ notices but says nothing. I’m guessing this is Xu Shou. He’s a peach.

Back at A’Wu, she’s meeting with Liupan Guy again. He thanks her for not killing him and then hits on her some more, just so she’s nice and sorry about the whole not-killing him thing. Outside, meanwhile, Liupan’s sidekicks finally hear enough that they get worried AKA jealous enough to try bursting in again. A’Wu is worried enough at this point that she’s thinking about trying the stabbing thing again. (She can’t go through with it).

XQ orders Sidekick to watch Xu Shou closely and not prevent him from doing anything. They are pretty strongly sure he’s involved.

A’Wu is still trying to keep Liupan Guy off of her, with little success. She finally tries the what would your mother think of this card, only to get slapped. But then she does stab him with her hairpin, so there’s that…..and then she threatens to kill herself and disrupt their plans that way.

The Emperor, meanwhile, confesses that despite his love for A’Wu, he’s willing to sacrifice her to save his son. And so he has…

Liupan Guy wants to change the plan, meanwhile: he wants A’Wu.

Meanwhile! The world’s most inept cavalry buy themselves a seat on a random peasant cart, rattling along to an eventual rescue.

A’Wu and Liupan Guy, meanwhile, have a bit of a chat in the carriage as they’re moving out. He’s doing this for his mother, you see…she’s dead.


The Rebel Princess – Episode 8 – Recap

So A’Wu is getting her hair done for the wedding, to the accompaniment of sad flute music. She goes off for the departing-from-home ceremony, and it appears that her mother did survive the previous episode, so that’s good. Well, after all, I guess even a Grand Vizier isn’t going to straight-up murder his wife just for helping his daughter attempt to elope.

Grand Vizier Dad is embarking on some last patriarchal admonitions when A’Wu (rather rudely, but very satisfyingly) ignores him to bow farewell to her mother instead and then walks out. Dad is nonplussed but that’s what you get when you marry your daughter off against her will.

The wedding procession proceeds….XQ is wearing armor under his clothes. I hope this means there are going to be ninjas.

In the ceremonial hall, however, A’Wu is being slightly less than cooperative and doesn’t take her cues properly and also refuses to make eye contact with her new husband. (Minister Wen is in the audience and for some reason seems satisfied with this?)

XQ is recieving the post-nuptial congratulations (AKA: drinks) when an urgent message rushes in! They’re needed at the front!

Lol, cut to A’Wu’s faithful maidservant suggesting that she take her fancy wedding hat off and take a nap, it’s been a while. But this isn’t allowed, only the husband is allowed to do it. Fortunately, the news comes in at this point. A’Wu is about to storm out of the bridal chamber before the women stop her.

XQ, still in his fancy wedding clothes, takes off.

Sidekick goes to report to her that, sorry, ma’am, it was an emergency. But the boss told me to say goodbye for him.
HAH, A’Wu says: I did not think your hero general was a coward who runs away at critical moments.
Sidekick says: Ma’am, there is, uh, context.

Well, she’s dropping truth bombs on the wrong guy. Sidekick’s a nice person and he also didn’t have anything to do with what’s been happening to you. Poor guy doesn’t deserve to be made to grovel to his boss’s wife.

A’Wu orders Sidekick to go take her hairpin to XQ and tell him that she is NOT TO BE PUT ASIDE LIKE THIS.

Not that XQ is particularly happy about it, but he is a dutiful and loyal general who gallops off gamely (the actor is clinging to his saddlefront, but still.)

A’Wu dramatically rips off her fancy wedding hat.

Cut to: three months later. XQ is still at the front. He has been sending letters and gifts, to no avail. He says: keep sending them.

Prince #3, meanwhile, is hanging out somewhere waiting for…letters from the front?

A’Wu is taking it easy, meanwhile, and by taking it easy we mean getting drunk a lot. Her maidservant is trying to convince her to at least look at the letters XQ is sending, but no dice. However, she’s at least also ignoring the letters that #3 is sending, so…

But she does agree to go in to town for the lantern festival. They were invited by some lady, and the whole atmosphere is rather PTA-ish and twee, something which is slightly modified by the fact that Some Bearded Guy turns around and gives the camera a fishy look. He’s got accomplices! They’re moving in!


Not for this stylish mode to be outdone, they then smuggle her out of town in a coffin that they claim is infected with smallpox, a necessary step given that the city is sealed and people are busy searching for the missing, kidnapped princess. The soldiers are smart enough to try to open the coffin at least, but there is at least one dead body in there on the top layer. So the escape is made.

Back at the imperial palace, Wan’Ru has reached the point of (attempting) to prevent the Empress from doing things. The Empress has some sharp words to say about this, naturally.

The Emperor is technically awake, it seems, and Wan’ru has been taking care of him, an office which the Empress attempts to do. He rejects her, though, and she sweeps out. None of this has passed the notice of the eunuch on guard at the door.

Speaking of people we haven’t seen in a while, the Crown Prince shows up to comfort Wan’ru. She says that she was just trying to help and do her best! Prince #1 thanks her for it, and, uh oh I do not like her smirk. OH FUCK SHE REALLY IS PLOTTING VENGEANCE, she just offered to bear him a son. Poor guy. He kinda-sorta escapes his mother’s clutches and ends up in her hands.

News of the kidnapping has reached various ears at this point.

A’Wu’s brother wants to go and rescue her, but his father forbids it: it’s going to kill their mother if he leaves, too. Dad has already sent his own people to go get her. She’ll be fine. Go take care of your mother. (doorslam)

A’Wu’s maidservant is, meanwhile, hastening….somewhere. Ah, she’s gone to get #3.

Meanwhile, XQ’s assorted sidekicks are incensed over the fact that they (XQ) have been ordered (imperially so, so: no getting out of it) to attend a military parade and NOT go rescue his wife. What’s worse, the orders came after the day A’Wu must have been kidnapped. One of the slightly smarter sidekicks suggests that he order them to go rescue her.

XQ, however, has been quietly thinking it over. This obviously wasn’t the work of the barbarians, who have just had a defeat and need to regroup. It’s someone who is holding the princess hostage for leverage–either over the Grand Vizier….or me.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 7 – Recap

Wan’Ru has come to visit A’Wu and ask if she’s seriously going to be marrying Xiao Qi. Then, OWWWWCH, she had a hairpin to give to A’Wu at her wedding with #3….and A’Wu says to keep it for the girl he does marry. Wan’ru presses it into her hand and exits quietly. A’Wu is hoping that #3 will hear from Wan’ru that she is happy to marry a war hero who rescued her from ninjas and will forget her, because that’s the sort of thing heroines do.

#3 and Lord Xie have been exiled. Guys, this is exactly opposite of what you should have done. You should have killed the men and left the women, like Concubine Xie, alive. But these guys are going to want vengeance and you’re just letting them loose. A few of the Xie retainers remain and come to see him off.

A’Wu’s family, meanwhile, is worried that she’s acting so normal.

Wan’ru, meanwhile, turns out, is doing exactly what A’Wu wanted her to do, and she’s doing it good and hard. Wan’ru blames A’Wu for sharing in the fortunes of the Wang Family (and misfortunes of the Xie Family), and so passes on the word of the XQ-A’Wu marriage to #3 with extreme prejudice. Wan’ru, also, wants revenge. Can’t exactly blame her, but being duplicitous towards a dumbass like the Crown Prince seems really unfair.

XQ, meanwhile, is trying to get his house (army camp lite, remember) set up so that the Shangyang Princess will not be put to discomfort or disgrace while she’s there. Sidekick grins slyly.

A’Wu’s mother arrives to pay her respects to Concubine Xie’s funeral tablet and #3. She wants to know what #3’s thoughts are re: A’Wu’s new marriage….and has just told him what the terms are.

So. Elsewhere, Prince #2 arrives…somewhere…? to beg Minister Chen to help him save the country! (??)

A’Wu’s mother is trying to convince #3 to leave the capital, it seems. She’s arranged everything: he can get out and be safe. Tomorrow. At midnight. Be there or be tortured horribly to death, probably.

Meanwhile, the Empress has arrived to pay a visit to A’Wu. But no amount of talking up XQ is going to assuage a broken heart. Empress promises anything in return if A’Wu is just going to be a good girl this once….but no, not to the extent of sparing her. Not that.

XQ is stalking around his decorated manor house to the accompaniment of brooding, ominous music, as one does when one is a brooding hero against whom marriage and assassination plots have been sprung. The music is ominous, because Minister Wen has shown up….with a dagger.

Which is not a smart thing to bring to a fight with not one, but two master swordsmen.
Minister Wen says: if you are going to marry A’Wu, then just go ahead and kill me and give my head to Lord Wang.
XQ says: and if I don’t marry her?
Minister Wen has to think this over a bit. What he has to say is of the utmost importance to the realm and is XQ man enough to hear it and act on it?

A few minutes later, XQ and Sidekick discuss: well, the Wang Family’s sudden rise prominence and assorted people’s falls does seem rather….coincidental, and now we’re going to be dragged into it via this marriage, but what can we do? Get out of town?
Sidekick says: Sure, that’d be smart, but do you actually want to leave the girl behind?
XQ says: Got it in one, kid.

So it appears that our hero is, well, kinda smitten.

Someone has just shown up at A’Wu’s room-slash-prison with drugged tea and is hustling her out to join #3 out in the boat. Her mother then shows up to put her seal of approval on the plan and hug her daughter farewell….and give her a box of unmarked gold. A’Wu kowtows until the lady-in-waiting drags her off, lol.

So the women are hurring down the road in the rain and, GUESS WHAT HAPPENS. GO ON. GUESS.

No, not that.

No, not that either.

A’WU TRIPS AND FALLS. (why? It’s not actually as if this scene even INVOLVES heights or handsome men.)

#3 isn’t at the boat….he’s still in the freaking temple. And remembering how his mother once told him to stay away from A’Wu, since politics were involved and the situation might get dicey if he did. A’Wu stands out in the rain, with only the lady-in-waiting’s tiny little umbrella, waiting. For hours.

Lord Grand Vizier Dad Wang, meanwhile, is at his own devotions, when his wife walks in. She demands to know, in front of his ancestors, whether it was him who poisoned her brother the Emperor. Or at least if he’s man enough to admit it. And when he does, she pulls out a knife and with trembling hand…

LOL. He just leans back and closes his eyes and waits with a serenely sarcastic expression….and finally his eyes just pop open again and he just tells her to put the knife down. Dude has got balls, gotta give him that. But he also stops her from killing herself, which she also, naturally, resents. And at this point news arrives that A’Wu has vanished.

Hah, XQ and his Sidekick are packing up to get the hell out of Dodge. They’re going to leave via the river…

A’Wu is still waiting, in the rain, by the river.

(The order has gone out to lock the city gates, and at this point this is when the absolute dumbass #3 realizes that A’Wu was going to elope with him). At least, down at the river, it has finally stopped raining. On the other hand, Dad has arrived. With ninjas.

He yells at her a bit, points out that #3 is a dumbass who didn’t show up, and is too stupid and cowardly to make a real run for it. And then gives her a half-hug, because even Grand Viziers have feelings.

A’Wu throws her hairpin (that #3 gave her) away and it breaks and falls by the rocks.


The Rebel Princess – Episode 6 – Recap

So the Crown Prince is confirmed as heir while the Emperor is….indisposed. The Grand Vizier is regent, however, and he’s smirking fit to bust.

Wan’ru, naturally, is intensely distraught that her aunt and cousin are accused of high treason and her family is in trouble. The Crown Prince, showing that he’s not quite as complete a moron as we thought, admits that a) he has a hard time beliving Concubine Xie is guilty (poor guy), and that b) it doesn’t really matter, since at this point his mother and Uncle Grand Vizier have got the reins and aren’t likely to let go. He counsels Wan’ru to keep her head down and promises to keep her safe. But he knows perfectly well that only his father the Emperor can stop the Wang Family now they’ve got started.

Cut to: lol, A’Wu’s other uncle surreptitiously trying out the throne for size. The Grand Vizier explains that they’re going to go slow right at this moment, since the presence of Xiao Qi and his soldiers might make a too-hasty move fatal.

Crown Prince is watching over his father, and poor guy is starting to have questions. Like, why did Concubine Xie do this exactly? She and her already had the Emperor’s favor. But his mother assuages his guilt and he promises to do his best in his role. THIS GUY, SERIOUSLY! He means well! He’s just really too sheltered and stupid to be effective. This is genuine character development, though. He’s trying. He’s admitting his guilt and culpability when he realizes it. At this point and if it continues, especially if he has to learn things the painfully hard way, I wouldn’t actually mind if he ended up with A’Wu.

Grand Vizier is pushing the Empress into moving actively for the throne. She agrees but is reluctant, and she has drawn a hard line at getting her poor, idiot son involved again. If her brother does that, she promises to fight back against him. But meanwhile, what the Grand Vizier wants is for an imperial decree for the immediate marriage of A’Wu and Xiao Qi.

Grand Vizier Regent reports to the council that the frame, uh, I mean evidence, is complete and the Xie Family is guilty and to be imprisoned and executed. One of the ministers protests. The Empress slaps him down, while the Crown Prince squirms and XQ–and Prince #2–observe proceedings quietly but with great interest.

The Empress goes down into the dungeons with, uh oh, a bottle of wine and two glasses. Minister Xie is there and takes the opportunity to warn her that if he does happen to get out, he’s going to be after revenge. But her target is Concubine Xie. She’s there to offer her a way out for Prince #3: confess, die, and I’ll let him live. Concubine Xie agrees and makes her promise. Yeah, I don’t trust that look.

And, argh, they leave her a noose. Damn, that’s cold.

The Grand Vizier presents this “evidence” to the council. His brother urges that the entire family be therefore executed. All of it.

Meanwhile, Prince #2 is assessing the situation. His advisor points out that an alliance with Xiao Qi (and Xiao Qi’s 200,000-man strong army) is going to be necessary for the Wang Family at this point: to shore up power internally and externally. The current plan is that someone named Wang Xuan (whoops, that’s A’Wu) marry him, but #2 is prepared to stop that as well.

Back at our heroine, she’s waiting for her father to come back to ask him whyyyyy? And at this point, her brother arrives with the word from the Empress that the way to save #3 is marrying XQ. A’Wu gallops off to check things out for herself.

But the Emperor wakes not for her tears, and the Empress is there instead. She is actually quite kind to A’Wu (you know, as she explains why and how her arranged marriage is going to be arranged and therefore there is no fighting it if you want the actual person you love to survive.)

And A’Wu agrees. Her voiceover reflects that this is her actual coming-of-age ceremony: accepting the fact that, as a noblewoman, her actual life’s course is in the hands of others and expected to serve her family.

A’Wu’s parents are arguing about it, but, of course, Grand Vizier Dad is a Grand Vizier and the head of the Wang Family and it was his idea in the first place. Also, it’s not for power, it’s for power and security. Also he’s seen his sisters have to make loveless marriages for the sake of power and security, so it’s not like his wife (who married for power and security) has a leg to stand on.

Heh, his wife falls back on, BUT A COMMONER, EW! Grand Vizier Dad slaps that one down hard, causing A’Wu’s brother to offer to join the army to consolidate a military alliance instead.


But A’Wu steps in and quietly says she’s willing to do it.

Meanwhile, XQ is brooding silently, as one does when one is a silently brooding hero whose marital arts might or might not surpass his martial ones. His sidekick points out that he’s been brooding silently for a really long time. Sidekick is trying to figure out all the angles and is kind of stumped. XQ asks what he thinks they should do.
Sidekick says: Well, I do what I’m ordered to, but I’m also going to keep my distance from that Lord Wang.
XQ says: Got it in one, kid.

A’Wu’s mother goes to pay a visit to the Empress and quietly states that A’Wu is not going to marry XQ.

Prince #2 and his advisor are also discussing matters. The marriage-alliance is extremely dangerous to their faction, as it gives too much power to the Wang Family, so, (mutter mutter mutter), that’s brilliant, Lord Huan! I’ll keep my distance and you can go do the dirty work. (Huh??)

Back at the moms. A’Wu’s mother asks her sister in law: how well do you know your brother? Do you really think he’s got your son’s best interests in heart? Or his own? He’s willing to sacrifice his own daughter for his ambition…exactly what do you think he’ll do to a nephew he doesn’t even like? The Empress doesn’t want to hear this, but the message is received nonetheless.

I remain highly impressed by the way the plot has progressed so quickly and yet the lingering, drawn-out misery porn hasn’t.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 5 – Recap

So Prince #3 wants his marriage moved up immediately so he can be with and protect A’Wu against further insult. Meanwhile, A’Wu is disturbed that Wan’ru is going to marry the guy who raped her (although given that they were both under the influence…mitigating circumstances?)

Back at our actual hero, however, XQ is finally unable to avoid a visit from Grand Vizier Dad, there to extend his thanks for saving his daughter. And also some other stuff, namely: what he actually wants is for A’Wu to marry XQ and form an alliance. XQ’s reaction is…bemusement.

The Emperor, meanwhile, is going to agree to the marriage of #3 to A’Wu…next month. I have a feeling that delay is not going to work out well…

XQ, meanwhile, has deep reservations about this idea. But, lol, Dad is at his most Grand Vizierish when he says: No hurry. And then smirks.

I haz a suspicious.

Afterwards, snerk, Sidekick is marvelling at the amount of money/presents XQ got for saving A’Wu: “If I’d known there was this much money in saving people in the capital, I’d be out doing it all day!” XQ orders the money distributed to the families of the men killed in battle.

A’Wu goes to visit Wan’ru. Wan’ru is at the resigned stage of despair. Plus, it’s dawning on her that marrying the Crown Prince = becoming the future empress. Also, it means not having to marry A COMMONER, EW. And, anyhow, being noblewomen, this is their lot in life, after all…

Anyway, that evening, A’Wu and #3 get to Pyramus-and-Thisbe it up a little (the jagged stump where the escape tree used to be, LOL.)

So Wan’ru and he Crown Prince get married off and neither of them are happy in the slightest. But the Crown Prince apologizes to her and promises to go away and leave her be. Wan’ru asks: are you going to ignore me, then? He says: look, I’m aware that this is all my fault and I feel regret (also, people have been beating up on me ever since it happened.)

Wan’ru seems to realize that he is at least as much a pawn of outside forces as she is, and they seem to reach an understanding and agree to be good to each other. So…well, that’s nice.

Naturally, the Empress is waiting outside with a sour face, because of course she is.

So! Elsewhere, Prince #2 is meeting with Another Old Guy (Duke Huan) for some chess and gloating. Their plan is to stand back and let the pot roil for a while.

Meanwhile, the Grand Vizier is up to something nefarious. OH SHIT OKAY THE MUTE PRIEST WAS ACTUALLY A SPY FOR THE WANG FAMILY. He’s….he’s going to poison the Emperor, isn’t he…?

So Grand Vizier Dad goes off to pay a visit to the Crown Prince. Turns out, the missing imperial jade seal was in the care and keeping of the Wang Family this whole 100 years it’s been lost. His plan is for Prince #1 to immediately go and hand it over to the Emperor. Now. Tonight. No matter who he’s sleeping with. Also, (smack) don’t touch it.

As predicted, the Emperor is overjoyed and is pleased with the Crown Prince in particular. He calls for wine! Aaaaaaaand collapses.

He’s survived, but is comatose and may or may not wake up again. The doctor is about to conclude that the poison must not have come from Concubine Xie, but promptly gets threatened into saying whatever the Grand Vizier wants him to say.

The Grand Vizier wants to move fast and consolidate power, imprison and destroy the Xie family, and ally himself with XQ…with the aid of the Empress. If she will stand by her family.

Meanwhile, everyone is gathered at the Emperor’s bedside. Including the poor, dense Crown Prince, who is holding the water bowl and doing brow-mopping and probably doesn’t even realize he was the one who killed his father. GUYS I FEEL REALLY SORRY FOR THIS CHARACTER, HE’S JUST TOO STUPID TO BE A THREAT AND HE’S WELL-MEANING UNDERNEATH. A’Wu rushes in and is just as distraught as everyone else. Probably even more so when Grand Vizier Dad shows up to get the ball rolling. A’Wu does her best to plead for leniency and sanity, and is about to try drinking the wine herself, but Dad hustles her out before she can shame the Empress into behaving like a decent person. Concubine Xie and #3 cower, uncertain as to whether they’re also going to be dragged out.

And, at this instant, XQ arrives! He starts asking actual investigative questions–enough so that even the idiot Crown Prince pokes his head up to say that yeah, indeed, maybe Grand Vizier Wang should slow his roll a bit.

Grand Vizier Wang chooses his most likely opponent–Xiao Qi–and attacks him directly instead of responding to anyone else. But, then on finding out that XQ and Sidekick are alone (and actually unarmed, as is the rule for people in the palace), he continues right on. The Empress looks uneasy but says nothing.

In the council chamber, Prince #2 is, meanwhile, stirring the pot a little….and XQ arrives along with the Empress and Crown Prince. Aaaaand…the Grand Vizier.


I’m liking the fact that the plot moves at a fast pace without drawing out the misery porn.