- Overall 6.0
- Story 5.0
- Acting/Cast 8.0
- Music 9.0
- Rewatch Value 3.5
I wish I could give it a higher rating, but I just can't. It started off promising, but then the story turned into a complete mess of bad story arc choices and pacing, with irrelevant side characters given way too much screen time at the expense of main characters. Also, the end makes you feel completely cheated.
The romance was... messy. It was as if the production team couldn't decide what they read more were trying to film-- an historical political drama, or a romance drama, and kept flip-flopping between the two. I felt like I was watching an half-arsed political drama half the time with irrelevant characters who don't contribute to Chu Qiao's storyline at all, and an underdeveloped love triangle between Chu Xiao, Yan Xun, and Yuwen Yue the other time.
The title "Legend of Chu Qiao" is pretty much a lie. There's hints at CQ having an incredibly interesting backstory, but that's shoehorned in at random times and isn't revealed until way too late, and never utilised to make an interesting story. CQ has very little agency, and the story isn't even about her bringing down the institution of slavery. It's first about her under the command of YWY, then her under the command of YX, and trying to outsmart a bunch of YWY/YX-related people want to kill her.
Her relationship with YX could've been one of the strongest emotional arcs, and while to some extent I did think it worked, it could have been much stronger. I found CQ's romance with YWY very underdeveloped and flat for the majority of the drama, although it started off okay, and got better near the end.
In terms of acting and characters, Dou Xiao (Yan Xun), Li Qin (Chun'er), and Niu Junfeng (Yuan Song) stood out to me the most. It probably helped that their characters had complete arcs, and had significantly changed from the start to the end. DX completely stole the show for me, and his portrayal of YX from a happy-go-lucky princeling to a person filled with hate was amazing. I wouldn't say CQ didn't have a character arc, but her storyline felt like one befitting a supporting character rather than the main character-- as such, I found ZLY's performance adequate, with a few great emotional scenes, but didn't wow me in the same way as DX or LQ. In the same way, I thought Lin Gengxin was watchable, but there were no real 'wow' moments for me.
Another highlight would be Deng Lun (Xiao Ce) whose foxy prince was amazing, but unfortunately, under-utilised.
The music was great, but I don't think I'll be rewatching this drama again. There's just way too much I'll have to fast-forward through.