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.

Okay.

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

WandaVision S02E04 – We Interrupt this Program – Episode Recap

So after a brief recap of the fact that Geraldine is Not Part of the Program and got thrown out of Happyville by Wanda, we cut to her….forming up…in a hospital room somewhere. So are a lot of other people. A doctor she bumps into says “they’re all coming back” and they “don’t have the capacity.” Which seems like a lot of information to hand out to just a random person, no? I mean, wouldn’t most doctors would just say “Excuse me” and keep walking? Or in my case, “Psych ward’s that way.” [Oh, okay. See, I haven’t watched the Avengers/Endgame movies, so I didn’t realize this was referencing the Thanos thing at first.]

Geraldine (?)–is then accosted by a nurse who calls her Monica and tells her that her mother (who is the patient she’s looking for, Maria Rambeau) is dead. For three years….which was two years after she…after she…after she (are you ready for it yet?) DISAPPEARED.

SMASH TO TITLES, OH WOOOO THE SUSPENSE IT IS KILLING ME.

(It kind of isn’t).

So we drift into S. W. O. R. D. (Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division….guys, really? Seriously? Why do you need to observe them? If they’re sentient, give them a job to do or put them out to pasture with a pension and crappy health care options. Problem SOLVED) Headquarters. Monica attempts to let herself in but her key card isn’t accepted and the door guy isn’t impressed until Director Tyler Hayward saunters over and explains that she is Captain Monica Rambeau. And now that we’ve gotten that on-the-nose dialogue out of the way, surely we’ll switch back to something a little more palatable.

(YOU KNOW! YOU KNOW! YOU KNOW WHAT THEY MISSED OUT HERE?? THEY COULD HAVE MADE THIS THE “MAN FROM UNCLE” EPISODE OR THE “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE” EPISODE, with like, modern sets and technology but with retro-era scripts and costumes and hairstyles and everybody just going for it with straight faces. Now THAT would have been cool. I’d’a been all on board for that.)

Director Tyler Hayward gives the door guy a snide aside glance for doing his job, so my hopes really aren’t that high, though.

Argh. Unfortunately, the next ninety seconds just proved my expectations need to be dialed down quite a bit more, though. I’m going to go hit myself on the head with something and see if that helps.

HO BOY.

So there is a brief scene about MONICA RAMBEAU and MONICA RAMBEAU being awesome and the person who should rightfully be in charge of everything, because US Government agencies operate on the feudal system now. Notice that this isn’t a scene in which MONICA RAMBEAU gets briefed, gets debriefed, issues orders, or asks questions. It’s not a scene in which MONICA RAMBEAU advances the plot or even interacts with the plot. It’s just a scene in which Some Guy (who, being middle-aged, white, not hugely attractive, and wearing a suit, kind of looks like he’s going to be the Act 2.5 Twist Traitor) tells MONICA RAMBEAU that she’s awesome and should rightfully be in charge of everything. And since I didn’t feel like giving myself a concussion to make it tolerable, the dialogue is freaking painful.

Only then we do move into something that seems somewhat plot-relevant. Monica is on ground-based missions only….and, HAH, it’s her mother’s (who founded SWORD)’s policy: in case vanished persons ever returned. On the one hand, HAH, but on the other hand, half measures are worse than whole. She’s being assigned to the missing persons’ case, supporting the FBI.

So presently, Monica is outside Happyville (real world) meeting with the FBI agent who happens to be sitting there at the town sign, Agent Wu. His missing person was in Witness Protection, but has…vanished off the face of the Earth. Meanwhile, two local LEOs who are also sitting over at the town sign insist that there is no such place. They ought to know. They’re from NotHappyville. Agent Wu hasn’t gone inside the town itself, because it Does Not Want Him To, which is a really kind of pathetic excuse for not having at least wandered up and poked at the barrier.

Monica sends out a tiny little helicopter drone of the sort you can frankly buy from Walmart….which fritzes out when it hits some sort of energy field. Which Monica proceeds to poke at with her finger like a moron (a real scientist would have used a stick) and then gets pulled inside.

Cut to: 24 hours later. A van with Kat Dennings (Miss DOCTOR Lewis) and some other people (molecular biology, astrophyisics, chemical engineer, etc) has pulled up at what is now a gigantic SWORD response base. Now, see, I liked this character when she was in Thor and, in contrast to Natalie Portman, had a personality. She’s got a personality here, right now, but it’s: condescending hipster girl who luvs da science. Hm. Let me not praise with too many faint damns. On the one hand, she has a personality and that’s a good thing. On the other hand…isn’t Doctor Lewis supposed to be a mature professional at this point? Oh well.

Within ten seconds of plugging one gadget into another, she ascertains that there’s way too much cosmic radiation in the area aaaaaaaaand there’s our WandaVision episode 1.

Turns out, the beekeeper guy (actually a hazmat, as everyone guessed), was inserted to look for Rambeau. Agent Wu and Director Tyler Hayward (still looking highly suspicious, as middle-aged white guys who are not particularly attractive and have taken the jobs rightfully belonging to attractive young black women, do), disagree on the efficacy of this. They then cluster around Miss Doctor Lewis’ TV as the only useful source of information.

(Dude, you know, at this point I give up. If that last sentence doesn’t speak volumes about the intelligence quotient and imagination levels of current-day scriptwriters, I don’t know what does. And yes, this is coming from someone who did quite enjoy the first two episodes of this series, but those were pretending to be a different series entirely.)

Director Tyler Hayward, with much masculine energy and decisiveness, orders for an analysis and a helicopter and then….exits the scene. Weird flex but okay. He’s probably going off to get ready to betray the heroes or something anyway.

Anyhow, they now have some data to start working with and start ID’ing people in the show and writing down questions. This is when Monica/Geraldine turns up in Episode 2. Miss Doctor Lewis suggests sending a message to the radios inside.

Meanwhile, our Hazmat guy crosses the barrier….which turns him into the beekeeper guy and also severs the cable that he was probably expecting to bring him back home. ((….what happened to him, then??? Because we get the whole big deal about Monica Rambeau getting back out, but what about this guy when Wanda blipped him out of her universe??!))

Miss Doctor Lewis and Agent Wu are discussing the Bobby/Tommy situation. Agent Wu has the, my socially maladept nerd self found quite amusing, bit where he tends to overshare: “Want one?” “Yeah, I thought about it, have a little Jimmy Wu, get him a tiny FBI badge…oh, you meant the chips.” Heh.

But then (in-series), Monica breaks script and asks Wanda about her brother’s death by Ultron. We saw what happened already, but on the outside, the “show” blips directly to the end credits. (Inside, Wanda has ejected Monica with extreme violence which oddly enough does not leave her multiply-fractured and highly dead.)

Back in Happyville, Wanda repairs the damage to her house before Vision returns….but when she turns around to look at him she sees the damaged, gem-less, dead Vision. He tells her that they could leave if they want and she tells him that, no, they can’t. And she has everything under control, sweetie. Vision is having some doubts about this situation but when you’re a fake psychic copy of a person and under the control of an emotionally unstable reality warper, such things tend not to be conducive to ones’ health and welfare to communicate.

Back outside of Happyville, Monica gasps out, in case no one noticed yet, that it’s all Wanda’s doing.

Back inside, Wanda and Vision and Tommy and Bobby sit down to watch TV like good little American citizen-drones.

Rated: Do not go out there and buy Disney+ in order to watch this show.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 2 – Recap

Oh, ok. So. The plot, much as a broth consisting primarily of onions, bell peppers, chopped garlic, and Better Than Bouillion (Chicken Flavor), to which cornstarch has been added and the heat turned up, begins to thicken.

In the previous episode, the Emperor was considering a match between our to-be-properly-introduced hero, Xiao Qi, and Some Guy’s daughter, Wan’er.

Wan’er has just turned up to console A’Wu for being grounded. So, here we go. (Prince #3 is not the guy in white, because they make a point of saying how he hasn’t come to visit her.) And Wan’er concludes the visit by convincing A’Wu to go sneaking out against orders during the Lantern Festival, hinting that there might be a Third party involved if so. Please notice the pune, or play on words.

So meanwhile, Xiao Qi has had an invitation from ?somebody? to go attend the Lantern Festival, which is something that slightly alarms his swordsgirl sidekick; but, given that his position is perilous and frought with political subtext at every turn, the guy has no better options than to…just go.

MEANWHILE back at the secret council of officiousness, they’re still fretting about how a commoner (EW) is going to be allowed to join their noble ranks. Thing is, one of these guys is A’Wu’s father, and he seems to agree with them. ((The Guy In White is A’Wu’s actual brother, it seems?)) The poor guy appears to just be trying to work in his library with all these schemers busy lurking and muttering in the meanwhile, heh.

So that night A’Wu climbs over the wall to go to the Lantern Festival.

She falls! What is it with C-drama heroines? Is it some kind of inner-ear defect?

She lands gently, in the arms of a handsome man! (WHAT IS IT WITH THESE C-DRAMA HEROINES AND WHY DO I KEEP GETTING A SPRAINED ANKLE WHENEVER I TRY IT?)

So it is the long-expected Prince #3, and off they go. Except that A’Wu’s faithful maidservant promptly catches up with them to bring her mistress her cloak. And warn them to be careful. And then…stares longingly and/or suspiciously after them….?

Our young couple are skylarking around, buying masks and watching puppets, etc, and at this point our hero bumps into them. Literally. Heh. He’s meeting up with a not-at-all-suspicious person in a not-at-all-suspicious gigantic hood…oh. It’s A’Wu’s father. Okayyyyyy….

Grand Vizier Dad tells XQ that the Emperor isn’t going to be rewarding him–only seeming to, as his military power now makes him a threat.

XQ parries: “How well do you sleep at night, Prime Minister?”

Grand Vizier Dad says: “I like talented people. I like being allied with them. I like to protect them. If you know what I mean.”

Meanwhile, in a not at all coincidental turn of plot, A’Wu and #3 are watching a puppet opera of the mighty Big Sword General Xiao Qi (here portrayed with three heads and six arms)’s exploits and bickering with random peasants who are speculating that perhaaaaaaaps the Princess Shangyang might be a good match for him. Xiao Qi and his loyal but puzzled sidekick just so happen to wander past as Princess Shangyang-AKA-A’Wu reacts to this as we might expect. XQ’s sidekick takes offence, but #3 just tries to hustle her away. (LOL SHE MAKES A FACE AT THE SIDEKICK AND HE MAKES ONE BACK AT HER AS THEY EXIT. HAAA)

XQ, meanwhile, is thinking that three heads + six arms might actually be kind of sweet.

A’Wu and #3 have done the make a wish and then set your floating paper lantern on fire thing and are just generally being soppy on the bank of a river. Meanwhile, the Empress has rattled up in a coach and is not looking happy. Cut back to A’Wu and #3 and then NINJAS! (lol, I love ninjas, so this development, no matter how short-lived or random, makes me happy.)

Prince #3 isn’t all that much of a fighter, but luckily XQ hears the commotion and arrives to the rescue. The remaining ninjas run away, and XQ strides off after them without bothering to introduce himself. #3 is quite stoic about it when he gets to comfort the sobbing, shaken A’Wu….at least until he feels that he can get more sympathy by playing up his scratched arm, heh.

He gives her a hairpin he’s made himself (it’s quite nice), and they send each other off quite sweetly.

A’Wu sneaks back in through the back door and….

…promptly discovers that her aunt the Empress has been waiting and not particularly happy about it. But this family is actually quite sweet, for a C-Drama. Auntie actually seems more concerned about the fact that she was out by herself, without attendants or a bodyguard, than that she was breaking the rules or something.

But! On to business. Aunt wants it to be known that A’Wu is going to marry the Crown Prince, right? Like a good girl, right? Don’t you want to marry the man you’ve always called Big Brother? A’Wu begs to demur.

Aunt then points out that the women of their family are destined to be Empresses. (As if that’s something that can’t be changed by a good dynastic overthrow.) Auntie doesn’t actually lose her temper until A’Wu proclaims her undying love for Prince #3 and determination never to have to face the same pains and struggle for power that the Empress did.

Okay, to her credit, part of Aunt’s argument is that it is A’Wu’s duty as a royal princess to bear the burden of power and empire, as she (Aunty) has done herself. (But she does nearly slap a bitch when A’Wu says she’d just as soon live as a commoner, LOL.)

A’Wu’s mother arrives at this point and provides cover. Aunty leaves in thwarted rage, but bumps into Grand Vizier Dad. He points out that the Emperor was unlikely to let their family gain still more power by marrying the Crown Prince and consolidating it’s grip over the court….he thinks that the Emperor had an ulterior motive for allowing A’Wu to choose her own husband. But on the off-chance that it was just a random slip-up, he is also going to go play chess with the emperor.

Meanwhile, A’Wu and her mother are having a little sit-down to discuss the ninjas. (The easiest and most obvious suspect is: the Empress. She does not like Prince #3 and wants him gone, her family has the most to lose, and she has prior cause to resent him).

Cue #3’s mother popping up to complain to the Emperor.

Cut to: Some Guy (look, they all look freaking alike!) who is in charge of capitol security, getting raked over the coals for a) not protecting the prince from ninjas, b) not producing any live ninjas. Is he involved in the nefarious ninja plot? Dead men tell no tales! (Hm. Is this going to backfire on XQ somehow when he turns up?) The Emperor appoints Someone Other Guy to investigate the case.

The Emperor also grills the Empress a little bit. She defends herself smoothly but is definitely rattled. And, even he thinks she’s the prime suspect, so she definitely does have reason to be scared.

OKAY, SO. Wan’er’s father (this guy) is of the same family (the Xie Family) as Prince #3 and his mother. That’s good to know. He is not in charge of the investigation, some other guy is. But the investigation continues, and it does indeed look like the trap is being aimed at XQ: the idea that the men were killed to keep them from revealing secrets, the fact that they were evidently killed by a master swordsman, and the fact that they’re not locals.

So naturally our valiant detectives go storm a local brothel to look for non-local peoples.

The madam tries her best to keep them out of one particular room….

…where a customer tries desperately to keep his face out of sight….

…because it’s Prince #2. (huh, I was kind of expecting XQ there.)

Meanwhile. Wan’er and her father have a talk….thing is, once she finds out the plan for her to marry XQ she pitches a fit and refuses and storms out, finis this episode.

OKAY, so that was two episodes.

I really quite like Ziyi Zhang, and putting aside the fact that she’s far too old for her character, she’s great. Again: she’s a totally beautiful actress, perfectly made up and expertly filmed. What’s even better is that she sells her character expertly. A’Wu is also a good heroine–lively, but not annoying, willful but not stupid, stubborn but not selfish, and spoiled but not rotten. She’s what a lot of dramas aim at but fall short of.

Our hero has had basically zero screentime, but given that 90% of it consists of spinning kicks, I’m in.

The plot maintains a good pace and a certain amount of drama without getting too bogged down into the tedious “my house versus your house and the stakes are everybody potentially getting tortured to death if we do the wrong thing by a hair but nothing ever, ever, ever happens except people glaring at each other and making cutting remarks but the stakes are SO HIGH GUYS.”

Aaaaand, I guess I’m going to watch episode three.

But not tonight.

WandaVision S01E03 – Now in Color – Recap/Rundown

wandavision-ep-3

So. Our heroes are back, and it is now the 70s. Also, in case you didn’t remember or notice, in color. (Man, I kinda love the 70s aesthetic. It’s so terrible and yet everyone wearing it is completely dead-convinced it and they are completely cool.)

Wanda, the doctor confirms, is definitely Bearing Fruit. Vision is resistant to the idea that he is having new-father nerves, since his nerves are of steel. (VISION, WHY DON’T YOU SEE THE DOCTOR OUT AND STOP SUGGESTING SILLY THINGS LIKE YOU NOT BEING A CARBON-BASED, HUMAN, FRUITFUL MALE?)

The doctor has been planning a vacation in Bermuda but he’ll be back in plenty of time when things start to happen. Sure he will.

Incidentally, the black afro guy (Herb), is hanging out by the garden wall, trimming his hedges in a highly suspicious fashion.

Anyhow, the pregnancy is progressing at suspicious, nay, supernatural speed….given that it’s been about twelve hours and she’s already feeling kicks. Vision estimates that it’s going to be due Friday afternoon, but then the next scene is Braxton-Hicks contractions and a mysterious power surge/outage occurs.

Wanda wonders aloud if it’s obvious that it’s their fault….they’ve had so many close calls and slip-ups and come so near to accidentally revealing their powers. Vision starts to agree with her that there is something really strange and really something is wrong here….and then there’s another time-unwind blip and he just snaps into comforting her instead.

Then there’s a oh-so-hilarious scene of them doing breathing techniques together, Vision from approximately four feet off the floor.)

(And then an indoor rainstorm heralds Wanda’s water breaking, which isn’t particularly funny but which is followed by a scene of them hiding under the living room table, which is.)

And then there’s one of those really-terribly-apropos ads of a stressed and overworked mother: would you like to get away from it all….?

Vision runs to fetch the doctor while Wanda practices breathing at home and then the doorbell rings. The nice black lady (Geraldine) needs to borrow a neighborly bucket while Wanda tries to hide the fact that the baby is arriving nine months early.

Aaaaand then the stork arrives. What’s more, it’s resistant to Wanda’s attempts to magic it away, and….I’ll admit, I did lol when it hid next to the mural on the wall. Anyhow, Geraldine ends up delivering little Tommy.

Shortly followed by little Billy.

Outside, the doctor leaves on the note that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get away, after all. Small towns, you know. So hard to…escape.

Meanwhile, Agnes and the black afro guy are hanging out by the garden wall, being suspicious and asking questions about Geraldine.

Inside, Wanda reminisces about her missing twin brother to Geraldine, and starts singing a lullaby in Russian/Sokovian. Geraldine says: “He was killed by Ultron, wasn’t he?”

Outside, Agnes says, Geraldine doesn’t live in their neighborhood. She has no home.

Inside, Wanda is not happy about this development. Also, Geraldine’s necklace has a sword on it. (Actually, it looks like an inverted cross or an ankh, but never mind)

Outside, Herb is about to spill some sort of beans (“She came here because we’re all–“) when Agnes shuts him up hard, and is apparently genuinely scared at the prospect.–not that she’s about to let Vision see this.

Inside, Vision finds that Geraldine’s gone, honey. She had to rush home.

We cut to: a town sign that says “Westview” and Geraldine getting expelled physically through some sort of barrier, to which jeeps, trucks, and helicopters immediately rush in.

I somewhat like this show, and it’s entirely based on the fact that I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen next.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 1 Recap

The Rebel Princess is a 2021 C-Drama starring Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Yi Wei as the leads. Also present is Kara Hui, whom discerning audiences will remember from the Shaw Brothers’ My Young Auntie, or similar. It’s available with English subs on Viki (but took too long to load there so I watched it on Youtube.)

So, without more ado: here’s my recap for episode 1.

So we start off with the child princess, played by some child actress. She’s a pampered, spoiled, and much-loved princess, rather than a put-upon and bullied one, and is on good terms with her grandmother, her uncle the Emperor, and her three…cousins…? the princes. Of them, she prefers Prince #3 and it seems to be mutual. Her official name is Shangyang, but her personal name is A’Wu.

Her family is extremely powerful and has had twelve empresses, one of them her being aunt. Her father is also the prime minister–read: grand vizier, but low-key. He doesn’t cackle, he just lurks, stares meaningfully, and smirks a lot. This seems, out of the first twenty minutes or so, to be one of the less dramatically cut-throat imperial courts, but that will probably change.

About ten minutes later, she’s grown up enough to be having her puberty ceremony and she is played by Ziyi Zhang.

Now….Ziyi Zhang is about 41. She’s playing a role basically the written for someone the age of her Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon character, except now she could comfortably be cast in the Michelle Yeoh role.) She’s absolutely beautiful and flawlessly made up and also probably plastic-surgeried up too, and she’s a powerfully charismatic actress who absolutely sells her character. It’s just kind of a shame that she can’t play some sort of role written for a mature, powerful, and beautiful woman instead of…a teenager.

But anyhow, A’Wu’s puberty ceremony gets sidetracked into the various factions asking pointed questions about royal marriages, and then even further derailed when A’Wu goes off script and says that she’d prefer a love match over a high position, and in this world only wants to be married to–

–cue her own father suddenly and coincidentally shouting her down with a report of urgent news from the border, sorry no time for matchmaking, there’s going to be a warn on, men’s business must go first (kid we are going to have WORDS after this).

After this, anyway, A’Wu is sulking too much to properly partake in the ancestor ceremonies, omissions which are not overlooked by her family. But A’Wu won’t take a hint and demands to know why she wasn’t allowed to state her preference for a husband. Is it because her father doesn’t like Prince #3?

His reply is basically, “Well, at least you aren’t all dumb, kid.” Heh.

But, also, it’s because there’s going to be a war on.

Cut to THE WAR! Some guy with a big sword rallies the troops and they all go RAAAA and gallop off. Meanwhile on the other side, some guy with a fur hat rallies his troops and they wave their spears in the air. And then form up a nice, tight shield-wall with only their spear-points sticking out.
Tactics, man. They always sneak up on you when you’re not expecting it. So Big Sword Guy is alone in a ring of pointy spear and the dust flies…

Cut to: the council discussing the, y’know, extremely theoretical possibility that the barbarians, y’know…win. On the other hand, the reward for killing the barbarian king is instant promotion to the nobility.

OK, so the conversation is actually about the possibility that if this general guy (Xiao Qi? Big Sword Dude?) wins, a (ew) commoner is going to be promoted to the ranks of the lordship. HOW CAN WE ALLOW THIS BESMIRCHMENT OF OUR SOCIETY TO OCCUR? THAT’S RIGHT, WE SHOULDN’T….oh, wait, he is protecting us against the enemy isn’t he…hm. A conundrum.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is pestering her uncle the Emperor. He promises her anything she wants if she wins the chess game he’s currently playing against himself.

He is also worried about what will happen if Xiao Qi does win…and gets his promotion. The other nobles won’t accept him. A’Wu is of the opinion that they are stupid and stuffy. Just make him a lord already, he works for you one way or another, doesn’t he? Oh, she’s going to be maneuvered into agreeing to marry him, isn’t she…

Big Sword Guy flies out of the ring of spears and duels the head Fur Hat Guys one-on-one. We know they’re evil, because they have fur hats and veils that hide their (stuntmen’s) faces. And curved swords. Big Sword Guy, on the other hand, has no helmet on and is handsome. Sheesh. This is stupid. I know you wanted to have some sort of big hero moment, but…why start by making your hero charge his cavalry directly into entrenched spearwall and kill off all of his own men? Why not have him be the one with the spears? Or something else awesome?

Eh, I’m overthinking it and I know, the budget…

But…

Eh. It’s not like I’ve reflexively started to empathize with barbarians who wear furs and challenge the dominant political structure, right?

Anyhow, A’Wu has won the game and immediately starts cajoling her uncle to agreeing to allow her the freedom to marry where she wills. And, since an uncle’s as good as his word, he agrees.

News of this promptly reaches the Empress, who is fairly disgusted with this notion: their family has had twelve empresses, and that’s going to be thirteen if it’s up to her (and her Crown Prince son.)

(Meanwhile, A’Wu’s celebratory dancing gets rudely interrupted by what I’m assuming is her brother-in-law? The guy who wears white a lot. Or just plain brother, perhaps? He warns her that her father is going to be pissed and probably give her a spanking when he sees her at dinner. But never fear! He’s got a pillow…)

So. The Empress’s son/the Crown Prince, has learned about the whole A’Wu Can Choose Her Own Husband thing, and is pissed. He’s even more upset that his mother isn’t all that likely to go to great lengths to force her niece into marrying him. She’s more focused on the fact that he might not always be the Crown Prince and ought to do something about it. But Prince #1 storms off, shouting that he doesn’t really care about it anyway.

A’Wu has seemingly decided to skip dinner…..until she then arrives with a bundle of sticks for being beaten with, lol. (The other members of the family carefully sink back out of the line of fire). But Dad asks: did the Emperor agree right away or after thinking it over first? He thought it over, first.

So Dad is about to paddle the shit out of A’Wu (who is a total wimp about it) before he notices that a) the sticks she has have thorns, and b) nobody’s had dinner yet. So she’s going to get fifty lashes with a non-thorny stick afterwards and NOBODY IS TO ASK FOR MERCY FOR HER OKAY? I AM THE PATERFAMILIAS HERE AND IT’S NOT LIKE I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE PILLOW, YOU GUYS. Also, grounded. Let’s eat.

Back at the palace, the Emperor and….I dunno, I’m guessing this is Prince #3’s mother, discuss things. They are well aware that Prince #3 and A’Wu love each other, but on the other hand, A’Wu is one of the 12-Empress Family and her family is well aware of it. But, d’awwww, the Emperor did it because he wanted the kids just to be happy.

CUT TO: a messenger galloping in with news that Big Sword Guy has won! Woo!

Cut to: the council of officious nobles discussing the fact that the emperor’s response to this was: “Reward,” because, uh-oh, that means A COMMONER is going to join their exhalted ranks. Guys, this is why you keep getting overthrown in brutal peasant rebellions and small island nations.

So Xiao Qi is promoted to a Lord and ordered to return to the capital. His buddies (including a random swordgirl buddy), are jubilant but also wary.

We leave off the episode with the Emperor preparing to welcome the conquering hero in person (and hoping to arrange a fast-ball marriage with, look, all these old courtier guys look alike so I’m not sure who this person is exactly or more importantly who his daughter is but, y’know, his daughter who is not A’Wu but is instead Wan’ru or Wan’er or something.)

So, wait a minute. Who exactly is Prince #3 anyway??? Is it the guy in white? Have we even seen our heroine’s ostensible love interest yet? I am puzzled.

But intrigued.

Off for round 2…

WandaVision – S01E01 & S01E02 Rundowns

wandavision-marve-tv-series-disney-plus-official-3E01:

This is kind of weird. Like, it’s five minutes in and I haven’t decided whether it’s making fun of the 50s-sitcom format featuring a happily married heterosexual although not heterosapien couple who have just moved into a new neighborhood and are variously plotting or forgetting their first anniversary, or making fun of me, the audience, for kind of getting into the story.

It’s been five minutes and the characters are…kind of charming? And the setup is mildly amusing already? And the fact that the camera isn’t in the actors’ faces whilst they mug for their line, which aren’t supposed to be taken seriously anyhow because it’s a comedy (as the laugh track helpfully indicates), helps enormously? Also, I’m a sucker for 1950s fashions?

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So, anyhow, our amusing setup is that whilst Wanda is with the aid and abettance of her neighbor to the right plotting out a romantic dinner for two on the occasion of their anniversary, Vision’s boss expects to be treated to a homecooked meal. A predictably hilarious sequence of near-catastrophes later, the actual catastrophe seems to have occurred when Mr. and Mrs. Boss ask our heroes what their wedding was actually like. Or when it was. Or why they don’t actually have rings. Or why they moved to the neighborhood.–a question which neither of them can answer and both struggle mightily with.

Fortunately, Mr. Boss chokes on a chocolate-covered strawberry at this point and the crisis is…averted. Wanda and Vision settle on their song, anniversary, date, and a set of conjured rings….
And the episode ends with someone at an ominous Monitoring Desk of Ominousness, watching their episode’s credits on a Monitor Of Doom.

wv111Episode 2 begins with Wanda and Vision in bed (separate twins, natch) which the cold open arranges to change into a single double. (eheheh) After this is an annoyingly animated credits sequence which I expect I was supposed to be cute.

We then move into Vision practicing his magic act for the talent show. It’s important, Wanda explains, for them to a) participate, b) be authentically fake enough to fit in. But shortly something else happens: Wanda discovers a model helicopter in her rosebushes. What’s more….it’s in color, while everything else in their world is black-and-white.

Agnes, the neighbor on the right, then interrupts. Now, it’s pretty clear that Agnes is being set up to be either an agent of whatever oppressive forces have Done This to Wanda and Vision, but, in the meanwhile, she’s still a kind of funny, charming character who Wanda plays off of perfectly. We then follow Wanda and Agnes-the-neighbor-on-the-right to the neighborhood Stepford Smilers Committee, or whatever it is supposed to be, which is presided over by a Queen Bee lady. Queen Bee lady is immediately coded as a bad person: she’s blonde, snippy, and, worse, is snippy to a plus-but healthy at whatever sized-woman and to our hero. Also, there’s a black woman there who is coded as nice, because she complements Wanda’s slacks. Guys, you’re starting to lose me.

Vision, for his part, is having a much more amusing and less productive time at the local boy’s club. He gets gum stuck in his throat, or somewhere thereabouts.

And at this point, the radio starts talking to Wanda.

We cut to the talent show. Vision is acting as though he’s drunk, which is delightfully funny or was intended to be. Vision starts doing actual magic, which Wanda has to then cover up…using more magic to undo whatever he’s doing (“That was my grandma’s piano”) revealing the “secret.” So….this is actually kind of clever and would have been legitimately funny if it could have gone a little smoother (or higher budget?)

Wanda then discovers she’s about eight months pregnant when she gets home.

And then a guy in a bee suit climbs out of the sewer and looks menacingly at the camera…only for Wanda to rewind time to back to when they were indoors and turn their world into color.

The episode ends with a repetition of the voice from the radio asking Wanda if she knows who is doing this to her. I’m gonna guess “the bad guys.”

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Verdict: I’m slightly intrigued, albeit the menacing bee-keeper suit was a lot less menacing and more surreal (read: stupid) than it was probably intended to be–and I honestly can’t see how any context whatsoever is going to make it less stupid in the future. Oh, also, the fact that the episodes are really short (<30 minutes) helps enormously to keep things moving.

I like both the actors and they are portraying their characters with just the right amount of charm and humor. And, while I can’t help but expect to be sucker-punched for watching and enjoying a show that celebrates the 1950s and many of the values which were common to our society and civilization in that day…

I’ma give them the benefit of the doubt, for once.

The Romance of Hua Rong: some highlights

So….The Romance of Hua Rong recaps are by far and away the most popular thing on this blog, which…well, it’s supposed to be a science-fiction and fantasy review site. But, hey, rule number one is whatever gets the clicks. And…this show was fun, funny, romantic, pretty, light, entertaining, well-made, and it helped keep me sane while I was surrounded by crazy people and tigers.

So here are my favorite bits from my recaps of the same:

Epsiode 1!


Meanwhile, everyone is trying to make a break from the brothel, but the Old Guy escapes and Our Heroine accidentally knees Our Hero in the groin after he accidentally touches her boobs while they’re both hanging off the side of a ship.

Ladies and gentlemen: C-Dramas.

Episode 2!

Well…girl tried.

Meanwhile, in typical fashion, Hua Rong gets pulled into (trying) to solve an injustice…which does get solved…when Chang Sheng shows up to back her up. So a young man is being bullied by other servants. Hua Rong chats with him and tells him to stand up for himself. He then tells her about the river grass that make people itchy. Shaggy Bro marches past with a consignment of slaves who will be going off the island to the mainland. Blue Bro then shows up with Chang Sheng’s clothes.
Um.
(It don’t work.)

Episode 3!

Lol

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.

Epsiode 4!

“Now we’re even….kill him.”

So Throat Cutter is yelling that Chang Sheng still owes him for taking that bullet (sword). CS agrees. He’ll even repay it. SO HE PULLS A KNIFE AND STABS HIMSELF, DAMN.

Ep 5!

The color correction was somehow off on the first few picture, sorry. It’s not actually yellow/redwashed.

You know, it’s kind of mean to run off on a guy on his wedding night. I’m just sayin’.

Ep 6!

(First guess doesn’t count.)

Luckily, Hua Rong has a cunning plan! And here we go again! It involves disguises. Yeah. Guess who gets to dress up as the lecherous old man?

Ep 7!

y…yes boss…

CS declares he will protect them anyway, bbbbut oh, no need; the sidekick has brought the constables. The party departs. So, not only do they have constables, there is a whole carriage, becayse Mr. Jin travels in style. Aaaand then the pirate bros arrive! To defend the Boss’s Lady!….boss, did she just leave again? CS orders them to a) shut up, b) get on the case of Mr. Jin. And c) SHUT UP.

Episode 8

Well footstomp but you get the idea.

CS takes the opportunity to gloat to HR–that’s an evergreen sentence–but she declares she was Doing The Right Thing (Only!) He replies that pirates don’t do the right thing but they do pay their debts. So….how about he repays her with his body, amiriiiiiiiight? (shove)

Episode 9

It’s really hart do screencap action scenes, but take my word for it.

That night, the Black Dragon Gang invades the inn! Mr. Jin fights them off, a kung fu hero! Hua Rong does her best to fight, but it’s hard to both fight and run away screaming at the same time. She wants to fight side by side with her hero, awww! But she’s still not all that good. And then Hui actually saves her by stabbing a ninja in the back! But then Mr Jin goes down! OH GOSH! ANOTHER MYSTERIOUS YUN HE SHOWS UP!!!! He decoys the ninjas out! (This one is Chang Sheng, he has the knife-spinny trick, and now the pirates also show up to ambush the ninjas.) The pirates have bows, but ninjas are ninjas. But then Chang Sheng tackles one off the roof…without a mask on? Or are we dealing with three Hero Yun Hes here?

Episode 10

The fact that Hua Rong takes about ten seconds to figure it out is never going to not be funny.

That’s Chang Sheng in a mask. Don’t tell me differen…oh SHE RIPPED IT OFF LOL

Episode 11

This scene is actually kind of adorable. The actors genuinely have off-the-charts chemistry.

Aw. Hua Rong and Chang Sheng are for probably the first time ever chatting peacefully and drinking together. They also have kind words for each other! Probably also for the first time ever. And yes, Chang Sheng is much less obnoxious when he’s not, y’know, being obnoxious. Aaaand are they getting drunk again? And…and….iiiiis that another fade to black?

Episode 12

Seriously.

That’s Chang Sheng in a mask, come on.

Episode 13

NO! BAD!!

OH MY GOD. HE WAS CARRYING THEIR MARRIAGE CONTRACT IN HIS POCKET ALL ALONG.

Episode 14

Snooty, please put the sword down…

 Snooty Cousin shows up. She’s come to visit the man she loves. With a sword. Heh, I like it when the crazy guy starts acting wary of the crazy girl.

Episode 15

Engagement painting is all the rage…

So Shang Cheng leaves her with just Blue Bro and a letter telling her to go back home. Hua Rong is naturally incensed. Lol, but she logic bombs Blue Bro into doing what she says: whose orders does he follow? The Boss’s. Whose orders does the Boss follow? Hers…buuuut sister-in-lawwww! Heh. So off they go.

Episode 16

Higher. Faster. Smugger.

(Back at the contest pavillion, Shang Cheng is smirking like he’s going in for the Olympic Smugness Medal.)

Episode 17

Lol

LOL, SC is forcing the Bros to come up with ideas. (Because this has worked so well in the past.) Blue Bro thinks that women know women best, and they should try brainstorming in the brothel rather than on the riverbank…..CUT TO: GUESS WHAT.

Episode 18

I mean, really?

Wanwan protests that this is totally unfair and who came up with the rules? (Her father, heh.)

Episode 19

Yeah I just liked this face. Lol.

OH MY GOSH HE PUT THE STUPID MASK ON AND WENT ON STAGE TO DECLARE HIS LOVE FOR HUA RONG. How cheesy can a man get? Sheesh. What’s more, it works. Waaugh, cheesy.

Episode 20

You guys….

Anyhow, the boys are brainstorming. Which, given what they’re starting out with….

Episode 21

WE DIDN’T SEE YOU GETTING THROWN OUT OF YOUR WIFE’S ROOM IN YOUR UNDERWEAR BOSS HONEST

Meanwhile back at Mengdie Villa, Shang Cheng is getting thrown out of his wife’s rooms in his underwear. Good times.

Episode 22

Pretty easily, turns out.

So: how do two people (with reinforcements on the way, naturally) attack an entire camp of soldier/ninjas?

Episode 23

Miss Tang is not wrong.

Back to our leads, Shang Cheng is keeping watch over a resting Hua Rong. She has slept for twenty-four hours! (She’s pregnant, isn’t she.) Shang Cheng has stayed awake to watch her for twenty-four hours! He’ll only go away and get some sleep if he gets a kiss! Juuuust one kiss. OK THEN LET THE SKINSHIP COMMENCE–AAaaaaand like clockwork, that is when someone comes to the door. It’s Miss Tang (LOL, HR’s irritated hairflick and CS’s alarmed side-eye).

Episode 24

…how did they fit in those boxes, really?

So, basically, he did go back to the tunnel–in force along with the rest of the pirate bros–and didn’t bother with all the riddles and passwords and counterweights thing. He’s a pirate. They blow shit up. Lol.

This show is amazing and I will defend that opinion with my dying breath.

The man inside The Mandalorian’s suit

….is generally Brendan Wayne, grandson of the John Wayne. The impression I get from this Vulture interview is that a lot of the character’s physicality is much more him and less Pedro Pascal–which is an impression I also got from the way Pascal’s voicework is kind of disconnected from much of his onscreen body language. Give it a click, he’s got some interesting things to say about how he helped design the character and why he plays it the way he does.

How I view The Mandalorian: It’s a Star Wars story told by someone who really likes Star Wars…but that person is a dumb person who doesn’t understand any of the deeper context to the story he’s trying to tell. So while he’s telling a story that looks almost right, and feels just about right, it’s a dumb story, because it doesn’t understand how the tropes it’s using actually work, or why.

A New Hope was, famously, based on Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, but it cribs from absolutely everyone and everything–from Dune to The Searchers. It has as an underpinning to its character’s actions, the martial philosophy of the samurai (or at least, a Hollywoodized version of it), the self-sufficient, independent, individualism of old-west cowboys on a frontier where the government comes rarely and, depending on your race (species?) is untrustworthy to actively malicious.–or maybe you just want it to stay out of your Planets’ Rights. It has an old-fashioned notion that a hero would respect even go out of his way to help the innocent, women and children, even if he is a wandering lonesome man–not because he’s thirsty or a pushover, but because innocent iterant farmers have a complex and highly important role in Westerns: they are symbolic of a civilization and a hope for the future that might be different from the life that hero has, but one which he can understand and one that he can admire.

The series is at its strongest when it draws on its Western roots. The much-maligned Chapter 4, for instance, is a “Training The Peaceful Villagers” episode. In context as a semi-episodic western TV series, it makes perfect sense that The Mando would both first accept a contract to do good for some folks who needed help and still be bound to mosey on out of town (off planet) afterwards. Chapter 5, with its Arrogant Young Gun, likewise is perfectly unobjectionable in theory.

The problem comes when the showrunners aren’t capable of blending “we are now following Old West Logic” together with “space logic.” The genre shift is too abrupt and they can’t reconcile things like: Mando wistfully hoping to leave The Child in a peaceful village to grow up with other children (and mosey on alone), with the fact that there is a tracking fob on The Child that will draw other bounty hunters to it. Could this issue be solved by adding a couple lines of justification? Sure.

The first episode encapsulates this. Mando has to learn to ride the walking toothy-tadpole things because the screenwriters really wanted their Corinthian-helmed space cowboy samurai to ride through the desert, because that’s what a space cowboy does. In-universe, is there a good reason? No, because the only reason given is the native guide says, “I have spoken.” So the scene is amusing…but unfulfilling, because the audience knows they are only getting to watch a space cowboy samurai ride a walking tadpole for fanservice, and that takes all the intelligent enjoyment out of it. Could it have been fixed?

Yes, it could have, very simply.

“We don’t have a speeder. You will learn to ride blurrg. I have spoken.”

Anyhow, The Mandalorian isn’t half bad, Brendan Wayne has some interesting and insighful things to say, and hopefully they won’t screw up the second season.

Love and Destiny – ep 51 – CDrama Recap

So this is episode 51! The heroine has returned and been recognized and reunited and pardoned, etc. I am terribly excited about this and also rather worried. We have ten more episodes to go and I don’t know how much plot is going to get stuffed into that amount of time.

So back at Fuyun Hall, everyone is assembled. What, wait, still no kiss?

Si Ming hustles an exuberant Shi San out. The other guys make their bows and also hasten out. So! Recommence the staring. Also, Jiu Chen is back to giving Ling Xi orders…that’s a habit the boy is going to have to give up. Ling Xi remarks that he has a heartbeat now and they go in for a cuddle. Still, I will point out, with no kiss.

Outside, Shi San is fussing over the lack of Ling Xi. Meanwhile, HuaYan asks: so what happened to Jingxiu if he gave her his life? The military bro says, well obviously he was terribly injured.

HuaYan says: well, he must like her a lot if he gave her his actual life.
Bro 1 says: yeah, you must be right.
Bro 2 says: Too bad for him, then.

Meanwhile, Jingxiu is back in his Phoenix palace, playing with his guitar. Lieutenant, Orc Commander, and a doctor have come. They’ve defeated Rebel’s men except for a few remnants, the black hole abyss is closed, and the Queen is still unconscious. They need leadership right now, sir, please…

Also, since the demon king is dead, Lin Mo successfully became Ling Xi, Orc Commander points out. This is the only thing that brings Jingxiu back to life. He realizes that she must be in Heaven…but then…why didn’t she come back?! It’s Jiu Chen’s doing!

Outside, Lieutenant and Orc Commander have a conference. But they figure he’ll be ok once he figures things out. The main thing right now is Phoenix Queen–they will be in grave danger if she wakes up.

Meanwhile–AHA, Princess Baoqing is vindicated. She did not kill the old lady who was taking the message to the other tribe. (Her being the psycho she is, I was rather worried.) Phoenix Queen may or may not wake up, and her energy is being sustained by medicine. Right now, BTW, Jingxiu is covered in glory for having killed Rebel and “rescued” Phoenix Queen.

Meanwhile, back at Fuyun Hall, Ling Xi is dreaming and remembering Lin Mo’s last words…Jiu Chen knocks on her door. But then Shi San wanders up. She’s asleep? What does the boss want to do in Ling Xi’s room? (Jiu Chen: stares.) Shi San retreats.

He’s got midnight snacks–but Ling Xi is not hungry. Being a high god means you can absorb energy from the sunlight, but this medicine is good for her anyway. Ling Xi spoons it up, but she won’t let Jiu Chen touch her right now….also, she’s kicking him out again.

Meanwhile, at the punishment place, Yuan Tong is being tortured/interrogated. OH MY GOSH SHE IS STILL NOT BEING EXECUTED. Just stripped of all powers and banished to the mortal world. The god tells her to be good and not repeat her mistakes in the mortal world.

Yuan Tong: glares.

Meanwhile, Jiu Chen is staring out at the power-draining pool. Ling Xi comes up to chat. He asks her to call him Jiu Chen, like she used to.
She says: that was Lin Mo, who did not know the rules.
Jiu Chen says: Do we need rules between us?–you’re leaving.
Ling Xi says: I need to go see my mother. I want to be with her, the way I never was.
Jiu Chen says: ….will you come back? Or, can I visit you?
Ling Xi says: Don’t bother. It’s too hard on you to be with me. OH MY GOSH GIRL.
Jiu Chen says: …what?
Ling Xi says: I’m both Lin Mo and Ling Xi. I’ve had a long, hard ninteen years, and I need some time here. Anyway, love is not the only thing. We also have responsibilities and duties. I must go and be filial to my mother, since I don’t have a father anymore. So yes, I’m leaving.

So Jiu Chen walks her to the gateway. Poor guy is visibly sad beneath his stoic face. Oh, harsh. Ling Xi takes of without kissing him good-bye.

Meanwhile, Baoqing has arrived at the palace. She wants to know how her mother is, and how Brother Jingxiu is. She goes over to see Jingxiu. She’s going to have to join the line–he’s got about fifty people who want to see the State Advisor, but Lieutenant is holding them off, lol. (They’re also not particularly happy that Orc Commander is suddenly a model subject and in charge of the army.) They need leadership!

Inside, Orc Commander notes that this sudden loyalty to the state and faith in Jingxiu is a rather recent attitude…he’s still of the opinion they should kill the Queen. Which is the smart move. He also points out that Jingxiu is not dealing with his trials very well: just one setback and he’s staggering, and allowing everything to slip through his fingers. Also, Ling Xi is the true princess, and going to come by sooner or later.

The ministers are about to force their way in–swords are drawn–and then Baoqing arrives. She scolds the ministers.

Inside, Jingxiu is doing something with his third eye? His life bead? He puts it back into the place with his vine magic? Huh? He’s decided to do as Orc Commander wanted–wait for Ling Xi. Meanwhile, there’s a flash of light inside, and everyone outside says: woah, that looks like high god magic. Oh, cool, he ascended. Now be nice to your nice lil’ psycho sister.

Heh, the oh so loyal ministers are the last ones to congratulate him. But, awwww, he ignores Baoqing and doesn’t let her come to the conference. Also, he’s got some evil shoulderpads going now. Dangit Jingxui don’t go all evil chancellor on us! You’re too handsome! I mean, noble and good-hearted! And you’ve done SO WELL so far!

But meanwhile, the Old Lady won’t let Jingxiu come in to see the Queen. She also dismisses him with elaborate politeness. Jingxiu merely says that if he wants to go in, who’s going to stop him? Fortunately, at this point the message arrives that Ling Xi has arrived.

Jingxiu looks very cute and also rather evil (the tattooed eyeliner) when he rushes over to see her. But, while she smiles and agrees that she’s back, she calls him State Advisor. And then everyone else catches up so he has to behave more formally: this is Phoenix Queen’s daughter, our princess, Ling Xi. Everyone kneels and salutes. (What about Baoqing?!)

Jingxiu explains that there are multiple layers of injury operating on the Queen. And, no, it is not Ling Xi’s fault it happened, Sheesh.

So outside, a report: Lieutenant says that the people must be running pretty scared. Also, Orc Commander is right–Phoenix Queen will figure things out very quickly and is dangerous to them. What do they do? But, Jingxiu doesn’t want to kill Ling Xi’s mother. No killing the Phoenix Queen! Just keep her unconscious, if necessary.

Back at the Heaven Palace, the Emperor is congratulating Jiu Chen…he worked hard and his wish is fulfilled. By the way, where is Ling Xi?–oh, ok, right. By the way, the Phoenix Queen is still unconscious right now, I heard. Good thing, though, they still have Advisor Jingxiu, right? What a great guy, Jingxiu. [Stare.] [stare.]

Jiu Chen goes out and asks for a report on the Phoenix Tribe. Everything looks peachy, except for the appointment of Orc Commander to the royal guard. Ling Xi is in the palace with her mother and hasn’t been seen. Also, Jingxiu has ascended to high god, or so it is said.

Jiu Chen doesn’t doubt this, and says: continue reading.

Meanwhile, Jingxiu is meeting with the doctor and Lieutenant. The poor doctor is getting the third degree. Jingxiu wants her to agree that the Queen’s soul has gone off somewhere else. So, basically: no more stimulants–only sedatives from now on.

OH MY GOSH YUAN TONG IS STILL AROUND OH GOSH WHYYYYYYYY. She’s telling Thunder about some fairy stealing the magic Needle. Thunder already knows and already is investigating.

WHY IS YUAN TONG NOT YET GONE AND DEAD?! She’s stalling hard. She says: surely the demon king is not yet dead! Ling Xi is still around! She’s such a witch who pretends and beguiles people!

Ah, awesome. Thunder tells her to shut the hell up, she is STILL persisting in the wrong. No, he doesn’t like Jiu Chen and no he doesn’t like Ling Xi, but it’s not a selfish dislike–he’s trying to do his job. And he TEARS into Yuan Tong for what she’s done, for purely and utterly selfish reasons. What is being a demon? Evil thoughts, evil desires, no conscience, and harming others is being a demon. And Yuan Tong isn’t even grateful that she’ been shown enormous mercy!

(Yuan Tong isn’t even impressed by this lecture.)

Lol, Thunder wore himself out yelling at her. But at least she’s being immediately sent to the mortal realm. FINALLY. I wonder how she’s going to cause trouble from there, the way her glaring says she’s planning to…

Love and Destiny – ep 49 – CDrama Recap

“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.”

So anyhow, back to Phoenix Queen and Evil Phoenix Dad. Being in the imprisonment place makes you lose your mind sooner or later. Also, it’s right next door to Hell and this is the second-most demonically contaminated place in the universe.

Evil Phoenix wants to know who pushed her down? She says nothing. He says: well, you were dethroned, weren’t you? Did YOU lose our crown?! Why are you even talking to this guy, Queen? Anyhow, she recaps the scheme to him. He says: meh.

She says: I am not you. I still respect you as my father. Even if you’re evil and I overthrew you, I definitely won’t kill you! (No wonder this lady ended up next to hell. She’s kind of pathetic. Evil Dad says as much.)

Meanwhile in Yuan Hall, HuaYan is invading, with the stylishly requisite cloth mask that all CDrama heroines wear when they’re being sneaky. She grabs the Needle and starts out–Yuan Tong sees her leave. I thought Yuan Tong was at the Front?–but HuaYan makes it to the outbound Gate and away before Yuan Tong catches up.

But a report is made.

Meanwhile…Jiu Chen is getting the reports of Qing Yao. He can’t help Yun Feng, and QY will be able to deal with it. Meanwhile, Lin Mo hasn’t died yet and her spirit in the McGuffin hasn’t been changed yet. If she lives through her birthday due to Jingxiu’s meddling, it’ll all have been in vain. Si Ming says: let it happen. Jiu Chen says: But then Ling Xi will never be back!–Lin Mo may live happily for the rest of her life, but then when she dies in just a few years, the Demon King will be able to come back himself. And that’s ALSO my job to prevent.

Si Ming tells him that there’s a twenty-four hour deadline–but he is NOT SUPPOSED TO INTERFERE by imperial degree…Jiu Chen, of course, storms off.

Back in the world, Jingxiu has brought Lin Mo breakfast noodles that he personally made himself. Are they delicious? Nope…salty. Lin Mo isn’t interested in noodles, though. She’s much more concerned about Jingxiu giving her his life bead….he’ll suffer injuries on her behalf and slowly lose his senses. He’s already lost his sense of taste…he says: no big deal, I’m an immortal. I’ve already tasted everything worth tasting.

Jingxiu explains his history to her. His entire life has been bent on revenge–until he met her. He wants her to live. (Where he can see her.) Lin Mo blubbers a little and doesn’t think that this is good. He also throws some shade at Jiu Chen, who he says is fixated on Ling Xi–not Lin Mo.

Jingxiu makes her promise: don’t give up on yourself for anyone else. Lin Mo just cries more.

Meanwhile, HuaYan is waiting to make the drop. Lieutenant spots her–looking very suspicious—and finds the Needle left under the table. HuaYan is making her way out in the mortal world, but Yuan Tong is close behind. Jingxiu gets the Needle. OH NO. Today is the blood moon!

Jingxiu says: killing Phoenix King on her birthday is going easy on him.

They are going to deliver the Needle to Orc Commander for Rebel Rebel…

Meanwhile, Jingxiu seals Lin Mo into her room. And they set off. It’s weirdly quiet in the Phoenix Realm–Rebel’s attentions are fixed on opening the black hole, and he’s careless–and he never suspected that Orc Commander worked for them. Lieutenant congratulates his master, but Jingxiu tells him not to get cocky. (well, don’t. Even if you are the Best Not-Evil Vizier Ever.)

Jingxiu does something with his vine magic: he just wants this all to be over.

So, at the Black Hole Portal to Next-Door-To-Hell, Rebel has the Evil Needle and all of his people…and gets started.

Back in the world, Lin Mo is brooding in her room. She goes to a window…sees the red moon…

Jiu Chen is searching somewhere nervously–oh, is he in the Phoenix realm?–looking for Jingxiu.

At the portal, Rebel is chanting ominously…

Inside the portal, Phoenix Queen and her wretch of a father are observing the happenings…you know, I genuinely hope Jingxiu is able to actually kill this guy. I honestly do.

Rebel and Orc Commander descend into the portal. OC is just a little freaked out. Phoenix Queen confronts them. He’s going to unleash hell on earth…and she’s going to watch. Except that she’s still weak and injured. Rebel throws a bit of well-deserved shade at Heaven and its laws, but, basically, when they do fight, Phoenix Queen gets knocked down almost immediately.

But when Rebel starts to focus on the portal, Evil King flies in to block it. He fights rather more successfully than his daughter–she still jumps in to save him–and then he jumps back to save her and has blood from the mouth–He is King of the Phoenix Tribe, and while he lives no one will enter the demon gate.

And at this point, applauding sarcastically, Jingxiu arrives. And now he has a sword. He stabs Rebel! (The actor is pretty bad at the choreography). OH LOL ORC COMMANDER ALSO STABS HIM IN THE BACK AT THE SAME TIME. AWESOME.

SO AWESOME. Now go do Yuandu.

Hah, and Orc Commander checks to make sure he’s dead. Lieutenant is there watching. Jingxiu goes over to resolve the actual reason he’s there. Phoenix Queen, like the MORON SHE IS, tries to stop him. The Evil Phoenix King asks who he is….was that a rhetorical question or not? Anyhow, Jingxiu is monologuing and it’s not a good sign. You guys don’t have time.

Evil Phoenix says: bring it. KILL HIM JINGXIU! Lieutenant and Orc Commander hold off Phoenix Queen, and Jingxiu slices up Yuandu. Oh yeah. But then Lieutenant slashes Phoenix Queen. Why! Hey!?

Jingxiu takes a moment to celebrate his vengeance. Orc Commander says: we’ll have to let the Queen die. We do have the Princess, after all. (Don’t do it, Jingxiu. You’ll make Lin Mo unhappy.)

But he says: Lingyue, we’re even now. And, uh oh, Jiu Chen arrives. He clears the area of the floating demon mists and strolls over. One dead Rebel…

One Lieutenant, who salutes and gives him a mostly true synopsis of the situation…Jiu Chen says: tell him that good and evil are separated by a thin line. Walk on the right side of it. He also notices that the Queen is still alive.

Meanwhile, Antler Puppy has tracked Lin Mo down and is bouncing off the magic seal on her door. But she hears it chirping and goes over….it can’t get in and it’s backing away. So she comes out to see it and it gets a nice pet in, at least. (How come you feel fatter, buddy? Aw.) Meanwhile, Yuan Tong has been hanging around the same inn and is smelling the Antler Puppy. And she spots Lin Mo! –and calls her “Ling Xi.”

And beats up on Antler Puppy, of course she did.

Yuan Tong starts to freak out.–if anyone finds out that Ling Xi is alive, Jiu Chen will die. So she’ll kill Ling Xi! And she’s starting to, only OH MY GOSH SO AWESOME GOOD BOY ANTLER PUPPY! Antler Puppy turns into his Antler Wolf form and roars off with Lin Mo on his back.

So, back in Phoenix Realm, the Phoenix Queen has been successfully repatriated and is in bed. Jiu Chen leaves her to a servant (to definitely not get murdered, sure.) Meanwhile, Thunder is about to lead a detatchment to investigate–and keep guarding the actual black hole.

Jingxiu is getting a report: they’ve cleared the country of Rebel’s people. And his heart is giving him trouble. Dude…he’s also bleeding. Lin Mo is in danger.

Also, Jiu Chen is getting similar spidey-sensations.

Antler Wolf is carrying her away from a pursuing, crazed, Yuan Tong. But Yuan Tong knocks them out of the sky–and is hurting Antler Wolf! NO NOOOOO! Directly in front of the black hole portal. Lin Mo begs her to stop hurting her puppy! Yuan Tong says: shut it, I HATE YOU. There’s only the two of us here, why are you pretending to be weak!

So Yuan Tong blames Lin Mo/Ling Xi for absolutely everything that happened to her. Nice transferrence. But the demon king won’t let Yuan Tong kill her. And, at this point, the soldiers of Heaven arrive. Including Thunder. He asks if she’s not dead yet, heh. And Yuan Tong blames her for trying to open the portal. You utter fucking bitch. Yuan Tong also starts beating on her with magic.

Thunder says: focus on the portal! Yuan Tong continues the beating, but Jiu Chen flies in just in time. To collapse. Thunder says: Jiu Chen, WHAT THE HELL?!

Lin Mo says: do you also want to kill me?

Jiu Chen says: I’m here to save you.

Lin Mo says: By bringing back Ling Xi?

Girl, you are Ling Xi.

Jiu Chen says: Give me the life Jingxiu gave you. Hurry!