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1. Ellie experiences her first 'Japanese dining table'. This is different because traditionally, you kneel or sit on a cushion and you have a little mini table. They arrive for dinner, only to find that Ellie has no table. Masaharu asks his mother, and she tells him (his mother never looks at or really acknowledges Ellie) that she is not family, but she can eat with the maids.
2.Angry, Masaharu says they will eat in his rooms. There Ellie shows how upset she is, and shares that this is just like Scotland. In a flashback, we see her talking to her mother, Rosemarie, who is vehement that she not marry Masaharu. Her mother says it isn't right because he is Japanese and she is Scottish, and Ellie says that shouldn't matter. Then her mother tells her that in Japan, they will never accept a foreigner and she will be bullied and mistreated and basically live a horrible life.
3.Ellie's last words to her mother, it seems, are essentially 'I'll show you! They will think I am Japanese!' so she's pretty determined and a tough cookie. But she is upset that not only does her mother seem to be right, but no one has congratulated them on their marriage, just like back home. Masaharu takes her in his arms and reassures her that everything will be fine (aww!!)
4.I guess her batteries recharged thanks to Masaharu, she is encouraged to keep trying. The next morning she is sweeping in front of the home, singing a Scottish song in English, and greeting whoever walks by. The people she greets are clearly not comfortable and bow before running away. Shimaji comes outside and tells her to stop cleaning because it's his job and he will get in trouble--then he proceeds to toss water on the ground because it helps the dust settle (he says it's an old Japanese trick but people have done that everywhere) and she wants to try, upsetting him. They fight over the little water pale and she rips away, dumping water on a man behind her.
Who turns out to be Masaharu's father! Lol. She apologizes and he tells her not to worry before heading her inside, and she's like is that dad, and Shimaji nods his head and says this isn't good
5.His father talks to his mother, who is adamant that he say something to their son about this Ellie. And he just nods his head and says well, I have work to do, leaving his wife annoyed. It seems that since he married into the family, he has really made sake his life and even collects rice in the field. Here Masahaur meets him for the first time in years and have a heart-to-heart.
6.But they don't talk about Ellie. They talk about Sake and whiskey. He explains to his father his desire to brew whiskey, and part of the reason he wants to make is the challenge, and he compares it to his father who managed to make sake in spite of not having the best water to work with. We also learn that Masaharu first had whiskey when he was 20 and said he never knew something so delicious could exist....his father tells him that if he really wants to make whiskey, then he should be willing to risk everything ?
7.We go Ellie who is scrubbing pots in the kitche. Chikoko, big sister, comes in and tells her that her cleaning is making problems for the maids. Ellie either doesn't understand or ignores this and asks what the brush is, learning a new word, and chikoko tells her. She then tells her that their mother isn't mean, she is just acting in the best interests of the family. Ellie smiles and says that means she must work harder to earn her approval, and this leaves elder sister speechless.
8. It's finally the day of the memorial service. Ellie wears her first kimono and she complains that while it is lovely, it's extremely uncomfortable. Sumire laughs and says that she will get used to it. Alone, Masaharu and Ellie practice the greeting to the priest (he plans to have the priest accept her since his mother respects him so much) and what results is an incredibly adorable scene
Conclusion: the leads in this show have so much chemistry I wish they were dating in real life.
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2.We learn that despite being the second son, Masaharu is the heir. However, he wants to make whiskey. In addition, we learn that his family did not pay for him to go to Scotland; it was the President of the Osaka company (of...sake?). He makes it clear to his mother that his dream is to make a new type of alcohol popular in Japan; his mother lectures him on tradition.
3.In a scene that made me laugh out loud, Ellie, who the narrator makes clear has no idea what they are talking about (presumably because they are talking very fast and using words she doesn't know) but understands his mother is furious, topples over because her legs have gone numb from kneeling.
4.Masaharu immediately tries to help her, his mother just stares at her as if it proves her point and tells him how could she recognize someone who can't even handle their traditions and cultural ways, and leaves, while Ellie is moaning in pain (I really, really like this actress)
5.In the next scene we see Sumire, who is increasingly delighted by Ellie, and Masaharu sitting with the priest . It seems that a ceremony to honor the ancestors is about to occur. Masahru hopes to trick his mother into acknowledging her since only family are allowed to intend (I think he thinks she will not make a scene because it might be rude It being such a big ceremony). They laugh because Ellie is so tall the robes don't fit her.
6.Sumire asks more questions about their relationship. Masaharu is incredibly uncomfortable and Ellie loves this, teasing him and telling him again and again that she loves him and hugs him--public displays of affection and talking about love are a no-no but she ignores him when he says this-Sumire seems to like the Western way of talking about feelings openly and expressing love.
7.She asks how they met, and ignoring Masaharu, Ellie tells a story and we are treated to a flashback. They met at a Christmas party two years ago, thrown by her sister Helen. She noticed him immediately, perhaps because he was a Japanese man in Scotland, who knows, and while eating cake he got a silver coin and she got a silver thimble. This is an old tradition, and it means that the two are fated to be together. She dismisses it immediately as a superstition but Masaharu stares at her very intensely and I interpreted this as him being hyperaware of her from day one.
8.The two spent a lot of time together and got to know each other because he would come by to teach her little brother Judo. During this time she learned a lot about his dreams to make whiskey and change Japan, since the only alcohol there is sake. She seems to admire his ambition,, passion, and honesty, especially when talking about his dreams.
9.Finally, they are sitting by a river one day (basically they spend all of their time together) and he shares with her that he has to return to Japan on Saturday (that is like a whammy). She is upset and cannot look at him, and begins to speak English and says how sad she is that he is leaving, but that she won't ever forget about him. It looks like she is crying but she won't look at him, and he is visibly upset. Masaharu proposes to her--in English--and she immediately says yes.
10.Back in the present, Sumire is like how I am when I watch a drama when people are in love--just gushing and waving her hands because it is so romantic--
I thought it was hysterical when she fell over. I took a semester of Japanese once and I remember in one part they showed us some traditions and thinking how painful it was to kneel, even for a few minutes--and thinking that they must have steel knees or something--
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Kameyama Massaharu 'Massan': The titular main character who married a foreign woman while studying how to brew whiskey in Scotland
Ellie: A Scottish woman who married Massan
Sumire: Massan's youngest sister who appears accepting of her brother's choice in marriage problem
Kameyame Sanae: Massan's mother
Chikako: Massan's other sister (?)
The family clerk is met but I don't recall his name
--This is a Japanese morning drama so each episode is only 15 minutes long
1.Our story opens to a crowd of people sitting. On a table in the front are two things: a photo of a pretty blonde woman, smiling, and a bottle of whisky named 'Ellie'
2.The camera focuses on an elderly man who seems to have tears in his eyes as the whiskey receives international recognition for being really good whiskey. But his eyes are only on the photograph of the woman...
3.We are then transported to many, many years ago and in about a minute we learn, through narration and flashbacks, that a young Japanese man by the name of Massan traveled to Scotland to study about the ways to make whiskey. We also see he met a pretty woman, they fell in love, and were married. Ellie is her name, and she agrees to return to Japan with him.
4.Massan tells Ellie that his parents instantly approved of his marriage and look forward to meeting her, which help her commit to returning with him and ease her fears of meeting his parents
5.Ellie has studied very hard to learn Japanese but she still mispronounces some words, and while others know it is because she is still learning the language, it gives people some hesitation like 'did you say that?' but overall the people she meets are impressed with her mastery of the language
6.From the moment they set foot in Japan, heads turn left and right because foreigners, especially a foreign woman, are incredibly uncommon in Japan. I don't think anyone actually thinks that the two are married since it is such an alien idea.
7.Ellie repeatedly talks about how excited she is to meet his mother and Massan constantly changes the subject--already sending the message that MAYBE he wasn't quite so honest about them being excited--he is also uncomfortable, because the narrator reveals that Ellie deeply likes the fact that he is so honest. Welp.
8.It is truly funny to watch Ellie through her encounters as she meets people--Massan tries to hide his face in his home town it seems he is not only well known but he is referred to as 'master' by the townspeople, suggesting he is pretty important. He can't hide his face from his sister, Sumire, or an elderly man who is happy to see him.
9. Sumire immedietly guesses the nature of their romance and teases her brother about how afraid he must be to see their mother. Meanwhile, Ellie mistakes the old man--who is actually their clerk--for his father and warmly embraces him. The old man freaks out, and Ellie is initially surprised and then embarrassed to learn of her mistake. She greets Sumire with a hug, who is clearly uncomfortable but does not freak out
10.They reach his home, and she keeps talking about how excited she is to see his mother, and he keeps looking more and more uncomfortable. She gets a brief tour of the place where they make sake (bc that is what his family does) and a man who works there says she isn't allowed directly in the distillery. She is confused and asks why, and he doesn't even know why. He basically just says 'because you are a woman and that's the way it is'.
11.Another sister (?) appears and she immediately does not seem to warm up to Ellie. She ignores her and the couple is led to their mother's room. Ellie admires the flowers, and touches them--Massan panics and tells her not to touch them as they are his mother's work (she seems unaware of the tradition of Japanese flower arranging) and she accidentally knocks the vase over. While the two are hastily cleaning up the mess, a severe old woman enters--this is his mother. She wants to hug her but Massan yanks her to her knees and tells her she should not be so physical with people.
12. He then bows his head and tells his mother this is his bride. His mother is utterly flat and tells her point blank she will never accept a foreigner for a daughter-in-law. Ellie is shocked, and looks at Massan who can't look her in the eye....
Thoughts: This was really funny. And not in a cheesy way. The actors are good, and I really like the actress who portrays Ellie.
So this is based off of two very real people. To read the account of that, here is a link: http://justhungry.com/masataka-taketsuru-father-japanese-whiskey-and-his-two-loves
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1. The episode begins with the Grand Adviser (Uncle) essentially revealing, as a result of Judge Chen's questioning, that he switched out the jade because it is a sacred treasure and he did not trust the chancellor
2.The emperor orders him to be executed immediately. Ministers speak up for him citing that the Grand Adviser was not wrong to want to protect such an important treasure and also, as Lord Qu reminds him, Qin would have found another reason to go to war with them. The king decides to let him go, and has him lose a year of pay.
3.Afterwards, the king has a private audience with his uncle and relates to him a tale of a subject who broke the rules by impersonating the king to save his life, and died by assassins. He then tells his uncle that while he broke the rules, he believes him to be a loyal subject. (I think he is saying that he likes that his action gave him an opportunity to show that he won't let an act go on unpunished BUT is also able to be benevolent)
4.Back in Quan county, the same three guys YET AGAIN scheme to take out Qu Yuan (this is a tired old plot device I hope this is the last time). They essentially blackmail a guy who has helped them steal treasury money, a guard, to change the books and set Qu Yuan up for embezzlement (this is like saying you are going to frame Mother Theresa for murder)
5.The plot is carried out. Judge Chen is shocked to see that the books are not right, and immediately investigates where a guard confesses that Qu yuan made him change the books and they find gold bars in Qu Yuans room. Somehow I like to think that if Qu Yuan was committing a crime he would know how to not get caught. he's supposed to be a genius.
6.Qu Yuan is enraged as he is arrested. Later, his servant tries to help him escape and Qu Yuan AGAIN gets on his soap box and insists that he is a servant to the people and will not hide from the law.
7.Back at the capital, Judge Chen reveals his findings and the emperor is not happy, because it makes him look bad since he decided to appoint someone so young. Lord Jing wants him killed, and Lord Qu and Lord Zhao try to plead on his behalf. The king orders a second investigation.
8.(It should be noted that prior to this the king continued to express regret about his sister being in Qin and how he feels bad for betraying her and the Queen and his mother try to tell him to get over it that this is the world they live in) Anyways the Queen Dowager visits her son and reminds him that while he likes and respects Qu Yuan and feels betrayed, killing him could be bad for the military since they are preparing for war and his father is the leader of the troops
9.Meanwhile, Mo Chou learns that Qu Yuan is facing death and shows that she cannot stay away--answering the lingering question of the last episode. She returns, organizes, and sets up a petition to beg for Qu Yuan's life.
10.Judge Chen meets with the King and says 'hey, I think it's kind of strange how clumsy this looks--why would someone as smart as Qu Yuan commit a crime and not even try to conceal it? hmmm. sounds like a set up'
11.The king decides to visit the province in question, and his palanquin is stopped by a bunch of people kneeling in white, Mo Chou in front, and they all plead to for Qu Yuan's life.
Conclusion: It does not bother me if a show is predictable. But I thought this was pure filler. The only new piece of information we learned is they emphasize the dynamic of carrying out justice: if Qu Yuan had indeed committed the crime, then he should be punished but his status as the military leader's son adds a new angle. It emphasizes yet again that not everything is as black and white as Qu Yuan sees it. Justice is not clean cut. The emperor could punish him, but he hesitates because he cares for him. He should declare war, but he cares about his sister and what that means for her. Qu Yuan doesn't care if he dies because of his pride. He won't have his name blackened.
So in some ways this episode is important--but it dragged a lot.
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I am splitting this summary into two parts:
Part 1: Mo Chou, Qu Yuan, Xia'er, and the families
In the middle of the night, on his wedding, Qu Yuan visits Xia'er not to consummate their marriage but to discuss his lover. Cuiwei, the servant to Xia'er, insists that Qu Yuan swear to never see Mo Chou again as it is extremely insulting to her (it really is) and Qu Yuan is in the middle of making this promise when Xia'er stops him--meaning she doesn't want him to promise--and they go to see her father.
For reasons unknown, Lord and Lady Qu just happen to be watching this scene, unobserved by the others, and remark that their son is really lucky to have such an understanding wife (and he really is in these dramas, they are FILLED with women trying to kill women who get in the way of their relationship with the man).
Lord Zhao, meanwhile, is nursing his injured hand (this might seem like a small injury but in these times a cut really could mean death) and wondering who could have done this. His wife suggests a rival minister, but he says not even that guy is dumb enough to send an assassin in broad daylight on his child's wedding (emphasizing yet again that Mo Chou went there to die, and in a very public way, almost as if to say, I think, well you don't care about me so I will die and maybe then you might!)
Xia'er and Qu Yuan enter and they immediately beg him to intercede and spare Mo Chou. Sensing this has to do with the woman herself, he asks the ladies to leave, and asks for the truth. Qu Yuan asks him if he remembers the Shaman. Lord Zhao says he does, that many years ago she did something that greatly angered the previous king, and the king ordered that she be killed. He said he was the one who had to carry out the order, and that he killed her, and they were punished with a three year drought after.
Qu Yuan explains that Mo Chou is the child of that shaman, and that she acted recklessly for revenge but begs him to spare her. This visibly shocks Lord Zhao, who then calls him crazy and says that they can't just let people go when they attack ministers in broad daylight. He is basically calling him crazy. And he asks him why he cares so much.
Meanwhile, Xia'er is walking with her mother who is questioning about this. While Xia'er does not answer her, her mother is able to conclude that this Mo Chou is a lover of Qu Yuan, and she is offended by his behavior but she tells her mother that they never should have married and that were it not for her, he would have married her. But her mother says none of that matters because Xia'er is his current wife.
Well, Qu Yuan seems only good at insulting people in spite of his honesty. His father in law is incredibly offended that he would come to him and ask him to spare his old lover. Qu Yuan swears to never see her again, and that he will also take a cut like him, and he takes his dagger and plunges it into his chest! He is crazy!
Lord Zhao thinks so too, and calls for a doctor, alerting Xia'er and his wife. Xia'er screams when she sees Qu Yuan and kneels beside him and swears she will not get up until he saves Mo Chou (does she have feelings for him?) and Qu Yuan makes more promises: he promises to never see Mo Chou, that if she ever harms the Zhao family he will loyally protect them, but swears he will die if she is not saved.
Not much of a choice.
The following morning Mo Chou is carried towards the execution stand and the crowd all gasp at her behavior, and she is tied to a post. She is to be shot to death with arrows. General Qu (big brother) shows up to stall (and this is very cheesy) but Qu Yuan shows up in time with an edict freeing her.
Afterwards, they are by the water and she has an extremely emotionless affect as she thanks him for saving her but tell shim she will go about her revenge. He begs her not to do this, to not throw her life away and she interprets it as him siding with the Zhao family and he grabs her, she pushes him to the ground, but when he doesn't get back up, she realizes he is injured. She helps him.
He essentially is able to convince her to go home, and I think he does it by reminding her that her actions will have bad consequences for her family. She chooses to go home, and so does he. She tells him to pretend like they never met and basically fell in love, and he asks her if that is possible (she doesn't answer).
Xia'er has a conversation with her servant who continues to complain about Qu Yuan whom she believes only follows his heart. Xia'er says that they should not have married, and asks her servant to rethink right and wrong, and that maybe the wrong choices are the right ones. She also says that Qu Yuan does not always follow his heart because if he did, he would have married Mo Chou.
That night, Qu Yuan visits Xia'er (I like this scene) and asks her to keep the doors close while he talks to her (not only is Mo Chou a barrier in their relationship, but the doors are almost like his heart shut off from anything) and he explains to her that in Quan county Mo Chou was his everything: she was his best friend, she supported him and encouraged him especially when he did not believe in himself and she stayed by his side when he was dying when others fled--this is like saying this woman is my soulmate--and then he asks her for some time to let go over her and tells her he hopes that some day they can become close friends but he also points out this time could be good for her as she had someone else in her heart as well.
Qu Yuan returns to Quan county to resume his job, but he is not very happy. He tells his servant, basically, he did not want to stay with his new bride because he couldn't, but that Quan county is the last place on earth he would want to be (so basically there is no where for him to go).
Meanwhile, Mo Chou is home and her father sees her and is happy he is back. he tells her that it is good QuYuan married because now she can have a stable life. She tells him she has forgotten about him and asks permission to join Qing'er in the circus so she can get away from Quan county (and Qu Yuan). He agrees.
Part 2: The War Declaration
So we return to the state of Qi where the King is preparing to host a Holy Flame Emperor ceremony now that they have the He Shi Bi. He is preparing to send out envoys to all the 8 states. Chu Li Ji, his brother(?) and advisor thinks it is silly how everyone makes a big deal about the sacred jade.
Lord Chen, who has been examining it, discovers it is a fake--that the real one has an imperfection in it and he only knows it because his ancestors new a jade master. The Chancellor bursts out laughing. He remarks that the king of chu is so smart, and yet he gave them a reason to declare war. They have not only insulted Qi, they have insulted the flame emperor, and have lied.
So a war edict is read out in front of their ginormous army. The edict is sent to Chu, where the Ministers are all shocked and not exactly calm. The emperor is stoic. All the ministers believe this is a trap to frame them, but Lord Qu is willing to lead an army, in spite of the delicate marital alliances between the states.
They ultimately decide to verify the rumors because they have the advantage of everyone believing that Qi is a greedy state. They want to make sure that the jade they have is actually a fake.
So this show places a lot of emphasis on emotions and feelings. I think this is why they have so many scenes just filming the main leads who are just sad and depressed. I liked the dramatic promises and the stabbing, I want to know what the chancellor will do, and I hope a theme in the show is how Qu Yuan, for all his noble aspirations, will make promises that he will keep on breaking--like he wants to regain control of the situation and fix everything but he can't.
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-Upon arriving home, Qu Yuan is almost in a state of shock as the reality of his choices really start to sink in. He stands in the middle of the courtyard, decorated for a wedding he never expected to happen--a wedding with Xia'er. He slowly turns and has flashback after flashback of all of his efforts to marry Mo Chou, which included trying to win her father's favor, and it seems almost like he is thinking in spite of everything, he truly did not think this would happen. He thinks back on his promises to Mo Chou, promises of living anywhere they wanted, but not only has that not happened, but he is back where he started, and his worse fears are being realized: he is not marring her.
-Meanwhile, Mo Chou is equally shocked at Qu Yuan's betrayal. She walks home in the run, thinking back on the same promises he made, and she can't believe he did something she never thought he would do. Everyone told her to not trust his promises, and even she was skeptical but was won over, but he is marrying someone else. She thinks back on what his mother said, and decides to take back her life--and her fate--by running to catch Qu Yuan and convince him before he leaves. But she is told by Shi Jia he has departed already, and he didn't even leave a message for her. No goodbye, no apology. He just left.
-Elsewhere, Xia'er's mother, Lady Zhao, approaches her daughter and tells her that they cannot bear to see her unhappy and give her the illusion of a choice--that they will back out of this, but they owe the Qu family and the Zhao family, she reminds her, has a motto of never owing anyone anything. Well. Not much of a choice.
>Xia'er says to her mother that she can't believe that Qu Yuan is agreeing to marry her
>Her mother says basically, 'Well the king will behead him if he doesn't' but she says it in such a casual way that I burst out laughing. Like yea, he will, you know, die, so that's the reason why LOLZ
-Xia'er arranges a meeting with Qu Yuan by the water and listens to his reasons for marrying for her. It is a very bittersweet scene, and Qu Yuan looks so different from the last time he was here, when he was so confident and certain of his choices. He bitterly tells her that fate cannot be avoided and although she does not say anything, Xia'er may be thinking of the man she loved, and might be silently agreeing with him. She tells him that this could be a fake marriage, in name only, and he seems to light up at that.
-Miles away, Mo Chou returns him and her father knows something is wrong. Yi'er and he go about trying to make her warm and comfortable and she sits in silent shock for a few moments before breaking down in tears and sobbing in her father's arms, and apologizing for not listening to him and telling him that he was right about Qu Yuan
(WHY NOT TAKE MO CHOU AS A CONCUBINE???)
-Xia'er returns and tells her parents that she will marry Qu Yuan.
-The next morning is bright and sunny, belying whatever emotions Mo Chou must be feeling as she gazes out the window, her face flat. She looks like a statue as her father approaches her and tells her quietly that not all of this is Qu Yuan's fault because he is different (bc he is a noble) and one day he would have regretted eloping with her. S
-She tells her father that he already regrets it (but not in the way you think) because to him, she is nothing, and that may imply he regrets ever knowing her to begin with (OH SNAP) . Her father quickly changes the subject and says, almost as if he is concerned she is going to kill herself, that his only desire has been to see that his children are safe. And then he proceeds to tell her that Lord Zhao is personally responsible for her mother's death.
-He immediately regrets it because it completely changes Mo Chou, who wants revenge against the Zhao for running their lives (it isn't clear if Qu Yuan is part of this, but I think he is) and she leaves to get revenge.
-We flash to a scene with bad CGI: it's Qu Yuan, surrounded by a sea of lava and the younger version of him (his conscience?) says this is all his fault because he made this choice and then adult Qu Yuan screams in agony before waking up.....(I think he has intense feels)
-The day of the wedding arrives and Qu Yuan is like a zombie. Mo Chou watches him from the shadows, and I don't know if she is able to see how unhappy he is. I don't think she can; I think she is too upset. She sees the parents gloating and greeting one another on the great match, she watches Qu Yuan greet his father in law (although he does not call him father) and she watches the entire wedding. Maybe she secretly hopes he will back out. Maybe she wants to suffer. Who knows.
-After the ceremony, just as Qu Yuan enters the bridal chamber, she attacks Lord Zhao but fails miserably. I think she knew she would fail. Qu Yuan is shocked to see her there, and after she is arrested, Mo Chou tells the guy questioning her she did it because officals are evil and literally tells him to kill her.
-Qu Yuan tries to see her, and tells the official he knows her, but because of this he can't see her. The official tells him that he has never seen anyone so determined to die, and eventually let's him see her in jail. Mo Chou looks like a ghost and barely looks at Qu Yuan, still in his marriage robes, and he basically says you shouldn't have done this just because I am marrying the Zhao's and she basically says this has nothing to do with you, it's because he killed my mother, and he promises to get her.
--this is great: so she looks at him and says (and her eyes are red, like she's been crying for a long time) that she knows all about his promises and the Mo Chou who believed his promises is long gone
-Qu Yuan is upset by this, but he has to act fast since she has been ordered to be beheaded. he goes to his father and gets on his knees and begs him to save her, that he will do whatever he wants, but his father is furious and yells at him for insulting his new family and bride by going to visit a criminal, and for caring more about a fisher's daughter than his respectable wife--he gives him his back
-Qu Yuan is dejected and in the next scene sits outside of Xia'er's bridal residence. He apologizes for what happened and she decides to help him free her (maybe Xia'er likes him? I don't know....)
END OF EPISODE
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Now, I've noticed that cdramas (maybe I'm typecasting, I've watched very few) tend to favor a sort of coldly perfect heros. My usual preference is for someone a bit more adorky (think JCK in Suspicious Partner or Hyungsik in Strong Woman Dong Bong Soon) but like I said, I was ready for a change.
I also am not a fan of the female main lead having to go through a whole lot of cringe-worthy situations just so that the drama can stress how she can't just catch a break. But somehow Wu Janice manages to pull it off is such a way that we wryly sympathize with Tian Jing instead of cringing deeply.
Another thing that attracts me to this drama is TJ's mom and dad....mom especially is a very different breed to asian drama moms I've met so far, and can I say I'm loving it? I also like the two ex-boyfriends, especially no. 7.
All in all, I found myself giggling thorough the episode and cautiously optimistic about the drama. I'm also happy that it's much shorter than other cdramas I've started, 28 episodes is so much more manageable than 50+
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-We open to Jing, who is furious about Li'er's evident betrayal, as it appears to him. In his anger, he tells Han that she has betrayed not just him, but their state and her grandfather for choosing the enemy (really he is upset that she has left him) and he even draws his weapon on Han, whom he accuses of helping this to happen/failing to avenge their grandfather (he does not believe Han when Han reports his assassination attempt).
-Han refuses to talk to him when he is upset BUT Han doesn't really gauge how angry he is because he tells him to calm down and they will talk when he is more rational (so this basically invalidates his feelings because he is all about Li'er did this for you, which throws oil on the fire because he does not in anyway seem to care or notice that Jing is angry. he is telling him to accept it when he should have been like 'yea this really sucks that this happened and it isn't fair')
-Jing severs his ties with Han and storms off
-Alone with Lan'er, Han waxes philosophical on how complicated life can be and how it can ruin chances of people being together (I like Lan'er's more simple view because sometimes it seems like these people create unnecessary problems)
-Back in the palace, the emperor is preparing to have all the palace maids flogged to death when it is announced that Madame Li has returned...
-So Li'er returns. This entire episode she refuses to look the emperor in the eye (which most of us know can be indicative that you are hiding something) and their reunion is filmed in a dramatic way--she is arrested and in prison is shocked to see that Qing'er, her servant, has been severely beaten. Throughout all of this, Qing'er is all about making Li'er know that she doesn't take her leaving personally (if this were a drama about servants we might see some resentment but it follows the old rule of servants being loyal because they are more like slaves and whatever ill falls the master falls onto them)
-Li'er indeed is upset about what happened to Qing'er and Zhao Gao seems excited to have her tortured (i cannot tell if he is sadistic or if he is mad because Li'er doesn't seem to give a hoot about their rules) but the emperor intervenes, and puts out an order that without his permission no one is to hurt her. Now begin the questioins
-Li'er's answer is SO REHEARSED. That, coupled with her not looking him in the eye, make for a bad story. But her story is SO BAD. She tells him that she felt restricted and so wanted to go out and experience some freedom and that basically she left to escape the oppression of palace life. Readers, this is completely against her personality. And she is also insulting the emperor's intelligence with this story. but their relationship is sort of like two people dancing together (in a way very different from Jing, with the swords in the woods) so he decides to accept this. we know he doesn't believe it. he now wants to catch her in a lie (it's like fencing almost, where you try to score a point by getting past the other guy's defense)
-so problems in her story appear as she repeats she was just 'waling around' while he was gone. And she refuses to tell him how she managed to escape the outer palace. UH HUH. So the emperor , and i give him credit, does not lose his temper. He tells her that she broke the rules and will have to be punished, and he coldly accuses her of treating the palace like an inn. He does get really up in her face and forces her to look at him but he gets nowhere and leaves.
-Zheng decides he needs to improve his guards and Li'er, alone with Qing'er, says 'I'M SORRY' (i burst out laughing. she doesn't say wow, i shouldn't have left because i didn't think you would be hurt or i'm sorry for hurting you it's just--I'm sorry ROFL)
-Meanwhile, Ghao Zhao learns that li'er leaving coincided with Han's. I mean he has it in for them, and I don't blame them because he very literally almost was executed because she left! Of course he has it in for her! He doesn't want to die!
-Han is retained, and brought to the emperor, and painted as a criminal. They figure out that he couldn't possibly have gone home because he returned to soon --unfortunately, Li'er left before they could get their stories straight so....you know....--and once Han learns that Li'er is in prison he makes up a story that he abducted her. WELL. Now someone is lying here.
-Han is arrested and tortured but his story does not change. The emperor is quietly angry because now he has to deal with his ministers knowing that his guards were useless, that there is someone in their ranks who should be executed already BUT he is hesitating because he knows that Han probably is important to her so if he executes Han then he risks further alienating Li'er.
-Throughout all of this, Ghao Zhao strokes the emperor's jealousy by pointing out how she left to be somewhere else, how she was likely with another man this entire time doing who knows what (when she can't even look him in the eye!)
-Meanwhile, Ru'er reports to the Grand Dowager all that is happening. The Dowager looks weak, and her health is not great, but it seems she was planning on leaving things alone since the emperor last yelled at her but now she has to return because the inner palace is in chaos, making them look bad to the rest of the world, so she has to take on the issue of Li'er, the source
-The emperor confronts Li'er, who is evasive but her mental thoughts are so bad--she is angry with Han for making up the story to protect her--DOES NO ONE ELSE NOTICE THAT HAN DOES TO HER WHAT SHE DOES TO EVERYONE ELSE? SHE IS EXPERIENCING EXACTLY HOW JING FEELS. And she doesn't like it. But she can only see herself, and what she does, because now she has to figure out how to help han.
-So she plans to help Han by persuading Qing'er, who was just nearly killed on her behalf, to smuggle her into the prison to see Han. no note, no sending of messages. naturally Qing'er has some reservations but Li'er promises to stay. OMG.
So I am in a state of confusion. Now I am wondering if her character is being written this way tho show how imperfect she is and how she hurts people, just like the emperor, but she feels her reasons are noble while his aren't. thus they aren't that different.
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Also, the ending wasn't really clear to me. It was weird to find JB asking Jackson to take care of Joo In Hyung while he disliked him beforehand, so why would he want her to get close to him again after he disappears? In the epilogue you see Jackson approaching Joo In Hyung one year later and she is wearing red sneackers, the ones she bought with JB before but another person walks towards her while wearing the exact same sneakers. This most likely has to be BJ, but he obviously had disappeared so how would he be able to return to the human world again? The power of love? The support of his friends? There is a huge gap in the logical part of the story here. They told us one thing but they did the other. I would really love them to be together, but it simply doesn't make sense without a proper explanation of how this would be possible and why it wouldn't be possible for the other couple to be happy? Why couldn't they properly end it for the pink haired bully , since she also fell in love and can't be with the one she loves right now? Hm, questions, questions, questions....
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Second: Whaaaaat Thee fucckkk HE KILLED THEM?! WHY THE HELL IS SHE TELLING HIM NOW THAT SHE LOVES HIM?!
Third: Ok now he'll kill himself too... yep, totally understand, he is broken to bits.
Forth: Thats all her and his fathers fault. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?! O hope the father dies from heart attack >:(
But seriously, I find this kind of ends ridiculous, especially when they're rushed like that.
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-Li'er and Jing again play with swords and it shows that even blindfolded, they are perfectly in sync.
-Elsewhere, Lady Min comes to the rescue of Qing, Li'er's servant and reminds Gao that while he is investigating Li'er it will look really bad if he jumped to conclusions and coerced a confession if it turns out Li'er was abducted
-While eating a meal together, the news of Lu Buwei comes up. Jing is shocked--and visibly upset--when Li'er comes to the defense of the emperor, explaining that he would have been upset if his father died and that the reason he is so awful is because of his mother and Lu Buwei (so she knows why he is the way he is--which begs the question why she left)
-The emperor returns, and as expected, starts taking lives, beginning with the head of his guards, whom he orders to kill himself. He tells him if he doesn't do it, he will kill his family to the third degree. He can't do it, so the emperor kills him and kills his family to the third degree. He almost kills Zhao Gao but Li Zhong defends him and states that he could help locate Li'er since he was here and a witness. The emperor does not kill him but comes awfully close, and promises to give him a bad death if she doesn't turn up.
-Jing remains upset with Li'er, whom he believes has changed since she is defending the enemy, and she seems to have forgotten about Puyang--elder brother tries to state that it is merely an observation she shared.
-While spending time with Lan'er, Lan'er essentially says what the emperor told her: that she is happy to be by the side of the one she loves even if they don't return her love. Li'er mentally says that Lan'er will have her chance to be with Jing
-Li'er drops hints left and right that this is a temporary reunion. She finally reveals to Jing that she had a son...and it's the Emperor's! So she must return and the boy must have his father (I was yelling WTF at the t.v. but this gets explained). Naturally, this leads to Jing freaking out, accusing her of having changed and screaming at her to go away since she chose the emperor, which she does
-Elder brother finds Li'er in tears, and she tells him that she planned to leave from the moment she left because she knows that Zheng will never let them go. She doesn't want either Jing or her child living a life of vagrancy. And she can't tell Jing that it's his child because she knows he will try to get him back and likely die in the process.
-Elder brother points out that even now she chooses to always put everyone first, but he also points out that she chooses to live an unhappy life. He also shares that he used to think that people were simply fated to never have their feelings returned and that was life and fine.
I think he is critical of her and disappointed, because she has a chance to be with the love of her life, but she is choosing--even if it rational and noble--to live apart. It implies he is bitter that she even has that choice because he I think would sacrifice anything if she might love him back and yet she is choosing to live in the kind of misery he lives in--I don't blame him. She is also being very selfish by not telling Jing the truth. It's his right to choose his own path.
-Meanwhile, the Grand Dowager talks to Ru'er and they are upset that Lu Buwei is dead because it seems he was useful to them. They are BOTH sympathetic to Chu, and the need an ally. They decide li Si is a good choice.
-Elder Senior returns to Jing and says that no matter what he thinks, Li'er has done everything for Jing. Jing punches him in the face (I don't blame him) and says it doesn't matter because she still chose his mortal enemy. he also implies that maybe this is what Han wanted.....
Thoughts: I really liked this episode because it added a bit more depth to Jing's character and to Li'er, who up until now has just sort of been there. It also shows her imperfections. Like if she knew when she left that she was going to go back, why the heck did she leave? I know she must miss Jing, and maybe she wanted to see him just one more time, or maybe she was worried that he would try to save her or be depressed so she wanted him to hate her--okay fine all plausible--but just for this selfish act, so many people suffer. I will have to say this: everything she does is incredibly selfless, so she gets to have a couple selfish acts under her belt. But I do think that the show makes a very strong point: the heroes all die and the villains live in (she even said this in the very first episode, that honor is great but that you die for it) so I think that from episode one we kind of get a hint at what will happen at the end. Also she is making the choice to be with the emperor. Life is full of choices we don't like or want to make, but that's life. You can rail about the injustice of it all, but people, that is LIFE. We are constantly faced with choices that just suck. And I would have chosen to run, even if meant a tough life, to be with the person I love. Jing would have chosen that, elder brother would have chosen that. She chose otherwise. So now she has to live with the consequences because there was no one holding a sword at her throat, no one was in danger of dying. She could have left. She could have even left her child behind, as difficult as it is, because as a prince he would have had a better life albeit it would have raised a lot of risks. But she chose not to. So on the one hand I am completely boggled by her actions. Because she is so different from the emperor and yet so similar.
The emperor chooses to keep her against her will, even if she hates him, just to have her. Now a lot of people might not do that. But he is willing to have her hate him. She is now willing to reject Jing and have Jing hate her to keep him alive. It's like two sides of the same kind. Both are making choices without consulting the other, both are acting regardless of how the person they love feels. It's very interesting.
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-Li'er hesitates many times before leaving. She points out to elder brother that if she leaves, her son will be in danger. She knows that people are after his life because someone tried to kidnap him. She knows Zheng better than anyone else....and she still leaves. After all, elder brother says, 'we will come up with some kind of plan to get him back and Zheng will protect him'. REALLY? Zheng isn't even there, and he's proven to us that Tian Ming is a tool to be used to anchor Li'er at his side. I don't think he will be a big ally. Not to MENTION that Zheng is extraordinarily spiteful; if you harm him he gets back at you ten times.
But she goes.
-Elsewhere, Jing is drinking himself to death when Lan'er finds him to give him the news that Li'er has managed to escape with her elder brother's help. At the same time, Brother Gao shows up and implores Jing to keep training and remain true to his goals
-Ghao learns of Li'er leaving and his first action, naturally, is to arrest all of her servants and submit them to brutal torture. Not only has her decision to leave made them negligent and caused them to fail in their duty, it looks like they helped her. I don't think she thought of that.
-Ru'er is pleased with the turn of events
-We learn that Jing still does not know she gave birth to his child. It seems she wants to tell him personally.
-The reunion scene with Li'er and Jing was very poignant and emotional--although I find it very interesting that just before she goes in she has flashbacks of the emperor....--and they embrace and vow to never leave the other again.
-Meanwhile, Lu Buwei listens to his retainer tell him that he has accomplished so much but Lu Buwei laughs and says what do his achievments mean when his own son views him as a snake and will not acknowledge his parentage?
-Lu Buwei commits suicide.
-The emperor learns of the suicide and his face is utterly affect. he comments that he really is Lu Buwei, perhaps implying that Lu Buwei never relinquished control and got the last word by taking his own life and yet he has flashbacks of childhood memories of meeting him and the scene in the throne room where he swore allegiance, perhaps implying that he might actually feel the rare feeling of regret--but this is cutshort when another messenger shows up to tell him Li'er is missing, and for two days. Well he freaks and rides back.
-The Queen Dowager is devastated when she learns Lu Buwei has died--and left her alone--which is clearly her greatest fear.
-Now an incredibly cheesy scene unfolds of Jing chasing Li'er and it looks like they are frolicking in some kind of paradise where its just them and there are no other problems--but they juxtapose this with the emperor furiously riding back, which makes me think the purpose of the scene to establish how out of touch with reality the two currently are--there things at work that are not only more powerful than her but things she will not be able to escape. I think things are going to be bad for her.
Thoughts: I really liked how they filmed Lu Buwei, as we saw a lot of insight to his personality and thoughts. And his suicide was filmed in a very cool way i.e. the discovery of his body. In addition to this, I think that the relationship between the emperor and Li'er will never be the same because now I understand why they had him visiting his mother the last episode. It was like to remind the audience that he thinks his mother abandoned him. He thinks Lu Buwei only wants to use him. And here it looks like Li'er abandoned her child for her lover--kind of like re-traumatizing him and opening up all these old wounds. He will probably react by punishing her. After all, Li'er has never done anything to make him dislike her--she's fulfilled her promises, she's shown loyalty to her family, she's not asked him for anything (well, except the antidote but he set up that trap) and she doesn't play games. She's honored her promises. These are things he cannot have, in spite of all his might, without intimidating others. Now she has 'betrayed him' in his mind. I think
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-The Emperor reveals yet again how obsessed he is with her as, like a puppy, he seizes upon the fact that she refers to Tian Ming as 'the Emperor's son' which to him is a major victory. She sidesteps this and complains she is tired and goes to rest.
-Madame Min continues to try to curry favor with Li'er by sending gifts
-In the next scene Lu Buwei is being visited by his servant who informs him of all the visitors who have stopped by: Zhao, Wei, and Chu states have all sent people and gifts to try to get him to come and be their chancellor. Lu Buwei is no fool, and points out all the reasons why he won't: Li Xanling of Wei died, and ever since their foundation is gone, Chu is prosperous but the in fighting of its ministers makes it unstable and while Zhao has Li Mu, the king is incredibly weak and relies entirely Guo Kai a villain. Essentially Lu Buwei says he is too old for this sh*t.
-He asks his servant his opinion and his servant states he likely wants to return to Qin but the emperor is suspiciious and won't invite him back. Lu Buwei states this is true, and speaks of his former retainer, Li Su who betrayed him to serve the emperor, and remarks that he will probably slander his name to curry favor, that is his concern.
-Speak of the devil; Li Si is meeting with the spies sent to observe Lu Buwei and concludes that Lu Buwei is merely pretending to be loyal in order to regain the emperor's trust. He visits the emperor and basically implies 'hey isn't it odd that all these foreign emissaries are visiting Lu Buwei? isn't it likely he will betray you?' The emperor admits that Lu Buwei is the biggest threat at home because of his wealth and number of loyal retainers
-The emperor naturally falls for this as he is incredibly suspecious. He decides to secretly visit him. But first he sees his mother and in a very telling scene asks her a series questions.
He asks if she regrets coming to Qin with Lu Buwei (although she wants to be with him) because his father was weak and could not get the crown without Lu Buwei and were it not for the fact that she was his father's wife she would have been ignored. She says she was a tool for both men. He replies that he owes his position to Lu Buwei (but it seems implied that he doesn't have real power because Lu Buwei is the real man behind the king)
He asks if she would not have abandoned him if he were not the emperor, and she is visibly surprised by this and tries to convince him that it was never her intention to abandon him but he becomes agitated and makes it clear he does not believe her and that she only cared about using him, like Lu Buwei, to obtain luxury and power.
He admits that sometimes he wishes he were an ordinary man (implying that being an emperor opens the door to a lot of pain and loneliness, and not having anyone you can trust, and difficult choices) ---this is like such a common trope in these shows
He leaves her alone, and she just cries.
-MEANWHILE, Han sneaks in to see Li'er and when he learns that the emperor is leaving on a secret trip they can escape, because he has memorized the patterns of the guards.
-Lu Buwei is preparing for the New Year when the emperor visits (OMG THIS WAS FILMED SO DRAMATICALLY I ALMOST FELL OUT OF MY CHAIR LAUGHING) to confront him. He states he should dismiss his retainers, and when Lu Buwei says these are his loyal friends, the emperor says that maybe he should execute them, leading Lu Buwei to tell him he is not raising an army, that he is his flesh and blood (so he thinks Zheng is his son) and that he wants him to be successful in reaching his goals
-Just when it looks like the emperor believes him, a bunch of people outside congratulate him for becoming the chancellor of chu. This shocks Lu Buwei, who tries to tell him this is a rumor, and the emperor does a 180, and tells him he is a liar and banishes him and says he never wants to see him again.
I actually felt bad for Lu buwei.
-Han and Li'er are making their escape--she disguised as a soldier. She tries to take the baby but he won't stop crying. Han convinces her to leave and come back for him later. So she sneaks out...
Li'er's character is incredibly inconsistent. She can be very smart and practical, and then she does extraordinary stupid things like this. She thinks she can actually escape arguably the most powerful--and obsessed man--without consequences. In addition, she leaves her son behind, the one thing that makes her extraordinarily vulnerable--and she knows how manipulative Zheng is and how he would go to any length to get her back or punish others whom he feels have hurt him--I am sorry but this is just EXTREMELY stupid on her part. Anybody would want to escape a situation like hers, but it seems like she should know that it will fail and likely end up in some bad consequences. It isn't fair, but that's just the reality of her situation and she seemed to be written as a very practical person. I guess not. I think the writers did this in order to re-invigorate one of the shows big points--that the emperor is not a nice person--and wants to make him go back to being really mean to her in order to push triggers in the audience. Everyone will feel so bad for her, but to me, this is just extraordinarily dumb. It's a losing battle. i'm not saying she is asking to be mistreated, but I think that she knows her weaknesses and she knows his strengths and she knows his personality so it's like she is literally walking into a bad situation that may have been avoided if she used her smarts and fought with the tools she has--giving her more power in a situation where she would otherwise have none . She can't win this battle at the moment, not without sacrificing her kid, and she won't do that. So this is only going to provoke him and endanger all the people she cares about. Oh sure it will make for some interesting television but i think they could have tried a little harder to make her character consistent. He is very consistent. Maybe we could have some depth in her story and figure out why she makes really dumb choices. Or perhaps have her character shift into a more ruthless person that takes advantage of his feelings for her in order to plot her own power game/revenge. End of rant.
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