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Episode 3
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Aug 29, 2017

One Stars

This is where I dropped it. I so badly wanted to keep going with this drama, but I genuinely could not stick the main male lead. He was narcissistic and arrogant and so up himself and I know this probably would have changed, as this is the way of Korean drama, but I found him really difficult to tolerate.
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Aug 29, 2017

Episode 12 Summary: Intrigue Abounds

So this episode had a LOT going on in it:

1. Ruo'er reacts to Min Dai's visit by banning her from ever entering her palace.

2.The emperor stays by Li'er's side until she is recovered. It seems they have a descent dialogue at first before it returns to her saying she hates him again. He seems to be killing her with kindness and takes care of her wounds personally and tells her that she is never to answer to any summons unless he has granted permission first and he tells her 'you are mine'.

3.Li'er is conferred a new tittle--the highest title in the harem beneath the Queen--she is named a Madame for giving birth to a son and given a lot of gifts. At the same time this happens, Ruo'er is tearing up her room as she is enraged.

3.Later that night, she goes for a moonlit stroll and takes out the purple scarf and thinks about Jing and how she misses him. The emperor is behind her and it doesn't seem like he noticed. He does tell her he has changed his mind and will keep the child close, because he believes it will keep her close. He also tells her that as long as she is by his side he is happy and will not force her and will wait until she comes to him willingly. (This seems out of his personality but then you can't call it a romance if he forces her).

--Now a lot of political stuff happens--

4.Ghao, the eunuch who has been serving the emperor, is apparently sympathetic to Zhao as it is his country. He visits the Prince of Yan, who has been held hostage (recall he was drinking with the emperor after his little brother's betrayal) and tells him that the emperor has given Zhao some sort of sign or tacit permission that it is okay to attack Yan. He tells him that this could be a great chance for Zhao and Yan to unite as allies against the emperor whom he suspects may be manipulating the states against each other.

5.Prince Yan points out that he is powerless to do anything as he has been a hostage for years. Ghao sends out a messenger to the Zhao army, but this messenger is caught and forced to reveal the contents of the message: that the emperor plans to use the attack on Yan as an excuse to attach Zhao.

6.The King of Zhao is furious when he learns about this cunning trick and vows to kill Zheng. Unfortunately, he immediately dies after. It could have been a stroke or heart attack from the stress. he bleeds from the mouth so it could have been poison. Anyways, his death scene was fairly dramatic and I liked it.

7. Meanwhile, Ghao Zhao is angry that his messenger was intercepted because this means that the emperor is aware that someone in the palace is plotting against him. he is thankful that his identity isn't revealed but realizes he needs to replan his course of action. So he contacts Crown Prince Jia (recall he worked to incite little brother to rebel with the letter)

8.Li Si makes an announcement that the emperor is looking for new talents to differentiate between friend and foe--this is leaning towards a merit system and not a hereditary one. I think.

9.Needing to change his plan quickly, Ghao Zhao appeals to Ruo'er who agrees to fund him if she in turn does something for him--kill Li'er's child.

10. Elder Disciple continues to sneak into the palace (this made no sense at first but it does later) and she continues to tell him things she shouldn't, like how she has never had sexual relations with the king. He tries to kill the emperor but he was pretending to be asleep--his guards rush in but he escapes (so they were actually aware someone was sneaking in).

11.Tiang Ming is kidnapped and the emperor vows to kill every servant looking after him unless he is found.

--I forgot to add (update) that there is a scene in this episode in which Jing basically breaks down in tears and thinks back on the choices he made/words he said to Li'er regarding her desire to live peacefully in isolation. He is filled with such regret for this --it's a good scene, minus the flashbacks, which I think this show uses far too much of--

Thoughts: So this episode was hard to follow if only because I am bad with names and a lot of people who had cameos earlier were brought in. Also, Ghao Zhao looks really different with his hat off so I didn't make the connection between him and someone else from earlier. I think the king's paranoid makes sense, as it seems he has collected a number of people over the years from other states to secure peace when needed and he has a lot of spies around him. Some of the writing was a bit redundant, like the I hate you stuff. The focus of this episode was clearly politics but they continued to give screen time to the main couple to please viewers watching this purely for romance, i think. Which I can understand; a lot of people abandon a show if it focuses too heavily on palace intrigue. This is something I think that Chinese dramas are superior in writing compared to Kdramas (just my opinion).

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Episode 11 Summary: The Birth of Tian Ming

-We open up with Jing who learns from Gao Nie that his master was basically like the Boutasai (for anyone unfamiliar with it, that refers to an anime called Rurouni Kenshin about a guy who is basically earned a very bloody reputation for killing people) using the mysterious Huyou sword technique but eventually stopped because he realized how dangerous it was. It is evident that Gao Nie is giving Jing a reason to live i.e. turn all of this anger into a goal you can try to reach by training to be stronger.

-Li'er goes into a very difficult labor. The emperor is so concerned he waits outside the room and hears her labor pains. This is extremely unorthodox and would communicate that either he cares deeply for her or is excited about his child being born. It's a prince, and he hates the child so much he cannot even look it. Li'er thanks the emperor for letting her give birth, and this seems to warm him up a bit. Li'er names him Tiang Ming, which means hope basically, but he refuses to let her see the child and says that when it stronger she can see it every day.

-The emperor orders the child sent away, and Li Zhong STUPIDLY asks if it is to prevent any talk about the child's premature birth--he is lucky the emperor did not kill him. Anyway, Ruo'er is extremely furious about her birthing a prince. Min Dai, another concubine that has received little to no screen time until now, is pleased. It seems she hopes that Ruo'er, whom she seems to believe is only at the top because of the Queen Dowager's favor, will do something stupid out of anger.

-A masked man breaks into Li'er's room. She screams for help, and it turns out to be the guy I've been seeing everywhere but could not remember his name. It seems he is the other desciple that her grandfather took. She explains her panic by being caused by a cat (she is such a bad liar) and then she does what I think is arguably the dumbest thing she could have done--she reveals that the child is illegitimate and that Jing is the father. OMG. Granted she hasn't heard everything that the emperor has said on the topic of illegitimate kids, but she should at least know I hope that he killed his mother's kids because they were illegitimate. Maybe she doesn't know. Could she be more stupid? Maybe the chance to finally talk to someone about the truth was just something she couldn't pass up on...(also, why is her kid there? i thought it was being sent away?)

-Elsewhere, the state of Zhao comes to play tribute. This is really a game of words between two powerful states. The Zhao emissary says Qin is the most powerful state but the Emperor points out that Zhao is very powerful as it is backed by Han and Wei. It must really irk him to have to play this game when he knows that this state has meddled in affairs and tried to undermine his rule.

-In spite of still being weakened from childbirth, Li'er goes to pay a visit to the Grand Dowager. She shows up unannounced, as the Dowager and Ruo'er and other concubines were being entertained by dancers. She had told her worried servant she had to do this, after all, she now has to think of her child. Ruo'er insinuates that the child's premature birth is strange. The Queen Dowager pays attention to decorum and says that this couldn't be likely but notice how she never chastises Ruo'er for her rude comment?

She tells Ruo'er that she must learn palace etiquette now that she is a mother of a prince. And then proceeds to hold her hostage and make her practice.

-The emperor finds out because he goes to see Li'er and is mad that she isn't there. He intervenes and sees the Queen Dowager slapping her around and he brings her back. The Dowager is not upset because she knows from experience that the days are long and she will have another chance.

-Min Dai pays a visit to Ruo'er to provoke and rub this all in her face--

Thoughts: This was entertaining but more like filler. The competition between Min Dai and Ruo'er for power over the harem is probably the best executed part of this episode, I think.

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Aug 29, 2017

Episode 10 Summary: The Mad Queen

-The episode begins with someone trying to strangle Li'er, who has been ordered to remain in bed for 7 days to stabilize the child. This person turns out to be the Dowager Queen, and she looks crazy, screaming at Li'er and insisting that she stop trying to steal her man

-The emperor comes in and pulls her off, and has the queen taken back to her palace and guards ordered to protect Li'er night and day. he asks how Li'er is, if she is scared, etc. and Li'er learns that the woman was his mother. She asks about it, and also tells him other than this, she has no desire to hear his voice or see him. Interestingly, the emperor seems used to this and does not yell her. He encourages her to recover before leaving.

-The emperor visits his mother and reminds her that Lu Buwei has left the city and is gone and that Li'er is his concubine. She flies into a tearful rage, and it is really sad to watch as she cries and asks him if he is happy now that her innocent children are dead and Lu Buwei is gone and her lover the marquis is dead.

-he becomes angry and tells her that her lover tried to kill him and the children were illegitimate so they did not matter and were a threat. she begs him to let her be reunited with Lu Buwei (I think he is her true love) because the palace is lonely and cold and scary and he orders a prescription be prepared to keep her calm before leaving.---now this scene is filmed wonderfully, because the director does a good job of showing how desolate she is, and it also gives Zheng to directly confront her for how her behavior has hurt him and his reign--and the scene of the the outside of the southern palace, where all you do is here her scream, is really sad

-Meanwhie, Ruo'er continues to express jealousy over Li'er's good fortune. She feels powerless to change her fate and resents Li'er who seems to have waltzed in from nowhere and just had everything handed to her (it would probably infuriate her if she learned Li'er didn't even want any of this). Zhao Gao appears to investigate her and he accepts her bribe.

-Zhao Gao visits the emperor and Li'er and says he hasn't found anything, but the emperor is very observant and states that he knows, but won't tell him. Zhao Gao behaves very suspiciously, and he is about to be executed. Li'er tells him not do this but the emperor says that if he doesn't no one will fear him and thus he will lose power

-Li'er is able to stop the execution by stating that she does not others to hate and resent her and the child because people died for them. So he lets him live.

-The emperor still wants to know who did this. Li Zhong then reveals that an outsider tried to break into the palace--she immediately know who it is and inquires--which raises Zheng's suspicions but he chooses to not pursue it.

-She cries all alone for Jin Ke and prays that he finds happiness and remain safe.

-Li'er then stops eating. And the emperor says that if she doesn't eat he won't eat. she says she will starve herself to death, and so he forcefeeds her by putting food in his mouth and making her eat. He says if she does not eat he will continue to do this--and that works.

-Jin Ke is a mess. Tuan rescues him, and he is basically courting death and looking to be killed. Lan'er and her father intervene, but Jin Ke rejects their hospitality and says they shouldn't have intererested. He is very bitter, very rude and unhappy. This I think stirs some sort of empathy in Gao Nie, who asks him to be his disciple--and basically tells him that if he is stronger he can protect Li'er

Final Thoughts: I thin that Zheng's explanation for why he needed to kill people--to gain their loyalty--well that says a lot about him--and essentially explains his relationship with Li'er; he feels he must use fear and intimidation to keep her by his side otherwise she will leave. In a way, I think this might imply that he thinks he is not worthy of love, since his mother, he thinks, never loved him. His confrontation with his mother also suggests this, as he accuses her of never behaving like a mother. He expects people to betray him, and he does not expect them to like them. He has used his power to force people to do things because otherwise they won't. And that includes keeping the woman he cares about by his side.

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Aug 29, 2017

Episode 9: Welcome To The Harem

I really like this episode because it focuses on harem politics and clearly explains it to viewers who may not be familiar with the harem (perhaps taking into consideration a foreign audience).

-Our episode opens up with Zheng yet again in Li'er's room. He straight out tells her that he has just decided that the child is his (perhaps this is the only way he can accept it) by telling her that Lord Zhao is the father's child (Lord Zhao, in case you forgot, was the identity he took when pretending to be a merchant). He basically tells her that he will always want her (like saying I love you without saying it, I think, but she won't think that of course).

-Outside of the chambers is a servant of Ruo'er spying. Just when I was wondering how the heck she managed to sneak past the guards, Lord Zhong (chamberlain) shows up and catches her in the act but I think he lets her go.

-Ultimately, the emperor leaves without sleeping with her. Elsewhere, Jing Ki is led away for hard labor but swears he will return to rescue Li'er.

-Zheng is walking with Zhao Gao and basically says he feels guilty for spending every night in the harem. Zhao Gao assures him that this is good because the foundation of the state is the harem, after all, that's where heirs come from. But to avoid in-fighting, he urges him to pay attention to the other women, and he accepts this as sound advice.

-Meanwhile, Ruo'er is happy to brag about the emperor visiting her and Madame Jing (the woman he sleeps with after leaving Li'er each night) is out of sorts because of this. Elsewhere, a guy who I cannot remember--some random spy--seems to be very much interested in what is going on the state of Qin. He listens to gossip about how Li'er has quickly managed to get pregnant and this surprises him. Sorry, but I just cannot remember who he is.

-The Grand Queen Dowager holds a meeting with the emperor and basically is hyper critical of Li'er, citing all of the bad things she has done from attacking servants to the general. Ruo'er sits next to her. The emperor chooses his words carefully as he does not want to offend her and rationalizes her behavior as natural as she came from a military family and reminds Ruo'er that it was her suggestion that led to the duel. With no other fuel, the Grand Dowager acknowledges that it is still good that he is bringing in new women and that Li'er is pregnant. She again tries to get him to name a queen, but he states that while he isn't ready, he does want all of his concubines to have children.

-After he leaves, the Grand Queen Dowager makes it clear that she will not have Li'er as Queen. She wants Ruo'er to be Queen and plans to feed Li'er medicine to make her miscarry. She also lectures Ruo'er on working harder to get pregnant. Now all of this sounds atrocious but this is just harem politics. Li'er's arrival has not only disrupted this bubble, but it is incredibly insulting that the king favors a commoner warrior woman, while these women have been groomed from the cradle to possess certain qualities that are the 'ideal woman' in addition to working hard to maintain their status in the harem. In this way, I can understand their anger. This is all basically acceptable behavior, so long as you aren't caught, because you are expected to fight to win the ultimate prize, which is giving birth to a son who may one day be the emperor--it's like the ultimate in prestige and honor.

-Ruo'er decides lady Jing will be the one to get the medicine in her food. This is pretty smart because it gives her power over her, the only other competition she really has, and could also be a way to get rid of a rival.

-Li'er falls suddenly ill and is in danger of having a miscarriage. The emperor is furious by this and orders Zhao Gao and the chamberlain to investigate. If they fail to find out who is responsible he will kill both of them and the servants serving Li'er. On the one hand, it is normal to order an investigation, but that is a pretty big deal.

-Jing visits Ruo'er who is extremely confident that she is safe. After all, Ruo'er tells her that Zhao Gao is her guy (so earlier, when he suggested that the king visit other concubines, it wasn't to prevent disharmony it was really because he wanted him to visit Ruo'er) and the medication is actually a prescription prescibed to her--so she can't be to blame. It is heavily implied that Jing is in danger.

-Jing visits Li'er and essentially is there to curry favor. She is smart, and responds to Li'er's direct and blunt dialogue by being as direct as she can be while making herself sound like a friend. After she leaves, Li'er naturally expresses skepticism for her visit. Her servant explains to her that women like Ruo'er and Jing have solid positions because they are from powerful states, other concubines go to them to curry favor. But Li'er is pregnant and has the favor of the king, so Jing would want to curry favor with her. She implores Li'er to think of her child and consider taking advantage of the kind's attention to protect her unborn child.

My Thoughts:
I strongly think that Li'er may actually be more submissive to the emperor to protect her child. She has the mind of warrior, and it is almost like being pragmatic and tactical. She will stand to gain much more for her child's safety if she shows the emperor some affection, and it could also send a message to the other women.

I think that Jing is a bigger threat than Ruo'er. Maybe it's because I watched a lot of Empress of China. But the quiet ones always seem to be the ones who pull the biggest surprise.

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Aug 29, 2017

Episode 8 Summary: Rejection & Coercion

-We open up where we left off: the emperor learns that Li'er is carrying another man's child and insists that she abort it. She basically tells him over my dead body, and he holds a sword to her throat. He is so furious that he actually looks like he might cry. He orders his men to keep an eye on her and threatens to kill anyone who fails at their task.

-Before leaving, he issues an order to Li Zhong to make sure the doctor keeps the news a secret. (This was a bit surprising. I thought he would order the doctor to be killed but then I guess that is even more suspicious).

-Now during all of this, Jing Ke has been riding to the city to rescue Li'er. This is awfully filmed and you have to see it to really see why. It looks incredibly fake, like he is riding a stationary horse and a movie of the forest is behind him, playing.

-In the next scene, the emperor's highest ranked concubines are all invited to a special dinner. This is cause for excitement since he largely neglects them. He introduces his newest concubine and his language is very specific--he basically says this is Miss Gongsun Li--so write off the bat he is telling them she is a commoner--and confers upon her a title of Virtuous Lady, something that is not usually earned unless you are very special, like a princess, or birthed a child.

-Ruo'er (Madame Chu) is the highest ranked harem member as she is the eldest, and she proceeds to administer tests clearly meant to humiliate her in front of the other women, to basically put her in her place. And the emperor's smug expression is telling, because he usually only wears it when he has plotted it--so we, the audience, can infer that he planned all of this, wanting to punish her for her behavior, which has hurt him. Very immature.

-She is asked to recite a poem, and Li'er's response is awesome--she maintains an incredibly flat affect as she recites a carefully picked poem--it is a poem composed by Xui Gui, a Queen from the state of Wey, where Ruo'er is from, and it describes her love and loyalty to the Duke of Xui, who was very domineering and how she never took it personally but was always calm and devoted. Both the emperor and Ruo'er are surprised by this, Ruo'er because she cannot insult her, and the emperor because it is like a sarcastic jab since she loathes him--she again regains control and does not allow others to shake her--

-Ruo'er next asks Li'er to showcase some of her martial arts talent, and the emperor is only too happy to oblige. He wants her to miscarry, showing that he is so filled with anger over the fact that she is pregnant with another man's child and not his own that he would risk her health.

-Naturally, Li'er is upset. And the person she is to face is General Meng, easily the best martial artist in the State of Qin. Ruo'er ups the anty by offering a spectacular prize of 500 gold pieces and ten horses to the winner. She also makes a point to tell General Meng that he would lose face if he lost to a concubine. Li'er asks the emperor that if she wins she would like her bronze dagger back, and he never agrees.

-Li'er almost loses but she waits until she finds an opening and wins. General Meng takes the loss well, and she asks for the dagger but is denied, upsetting her. The emperor then quietly tells her, out of earshot to everyone else, that his gift to her is allowing her to keep the child.

-That night, Jing Ke infiltrates the city and knocks out a guard and steals his army. What he is attempting is basic suicidal but his anger and worry for the woman he loves overrides all of that. He fails, and is captured.

-Also that night, the emperor visits Li'er and makes her promise to never leave Qin in order for keeping the child and to also swear to name him as the father. She agrees. He gets a bit physical but because of her utterly flat affect--like a person going to execution instead of going to bed, he does not force her. The fact that she also tells him she hates him because Qin has killed her parents and grandfather doesn't help. I mean, to say 'well, at least he didn't rape her' is pretty stupid. He has established that he isn't a very lovable or likable guy. I can only point out that at the very least it is reflective of history.

-Apparently, after this episode he left and visited Madame Jing, something which angers Ruo'er who has admitted to her servant that she is afraid the emperor will never visit her, I guess she is aware that she is getting older, and newer, younger women will come in. It is a sad fate, so she uses her power as a senior member of the harem to basically threaten Madame Jing later. Throughout all of this it is apparent that the harem has lived in harmony because the emperor has basically ignored them all. They want this, but they also want to see him, which creates conflict. Ruo'er monitors the emperor's visits to Li'er, which tend to end in him never staying the whole night and him leaving angry. She hopes that he will grow tired of her once the newnesss fades away.

-The episode ends with Jing Ke getting more brutal torture and the emperor finally deciding that he can't wait for Li'er to like him, and it implies that he is going to coerce her into sleeping with him.

My thoughts: The episode is important because it continues to affirm that the emperor is incredibly insecure where Li'er is concerned. He wants things from her almost without even working to earn them: love, respect, friendship--this is all part of his personality, he is like a bulldozer and up until now he has gotten what he wants through force and coercion. But matters of the heart are not the same, and while in matters of the state this may earn him the respect of others, it won't in the bedroom. It only reaffirms all the reasons why she dislikes him and adds fuel to the fire.

The fact that he has let her keep the child can mean two things: either he isn't quite as ruthless as one would think (which isn't saying a whole lot) or he plans to use the child to manipulate her. I am guessing the latter is more likely because he is very cunning and very ruthless. For now, I think he would be satisfied if she showed him any kind of consideration even if it is fake, because he is that desperate for her to want him back. Of course, these are only shallow gains and he will be greedy for the real thing. Whether or not that happens would be on Li'er, because I don't know what he could do that could make her genuinely love him without it being mistaken for Stockholm syndrome. He would have to do something that would earn her respect, regardless of how he has treated her.

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Aug 29, 2017

I DIDNT EVEN EXPECT THIS

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

I'm a big fan of crime drama like this, because i watch too many crime drama i can already expect few things like the Reaper is Kim Young Chul. BUT what i didn't expect is the death of Captain Kang's wife:( i really thought they'll be able to save her wow this drama is full of surprise
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Aug 29, 2017

Not Your High School Drama

This is definitely a drama for people who appreciate mature subject matter---EXCEPT Kim Woo Binny is in this!! WOOO HOOO!! I forgot how adorable he is. He steals all the scenes he's in. I really enjoy this drama. It's edgier than most other Kdramas because it deals with people in their 30's and 40's.

The characters do some growing and changing and yes maturing. It's worth watching.
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Aug 28, 2017

Episode 7 Summary: Pregnancy

1.Our episode opens with Jing Ke and Li'er. Jing is preparing to go see the Legendary Warrior Giao (everyone is a legendary). She trains along him for old times sake and this is important because they are perfectly in sync as they train, each move mirroring the other. In short, this is balance. This is harmony. These two have known each other forever and they know each other like the back their hands.

---It Rains--

2.Elsewhere, the emperor is planning his next political move. His newly appointed officer, Li Su suggests that the emperor send spies to monitor Lu Buwei who could prove to be an Achilles Heel Later. (this is his former master, which I think is indicative of a ladder climber but that's me). He appoints Zhao Gao to take care of this.

3.Meanwhile, Li'er and Jing are in a cave, waiting for their clothes to dry off. The two reminisce about their childhood growing up. Just as Jing is about to get dressed, she throws her arms around him, and she is the one who asks him if he love her. We already know the answer to this. Jing passionately tells her that he has only ever loved her, and she makes him promise to always remember that no matter what, her heart will only ever belong to him, and then two make sweet love (well, Chinese law prohibits us any skinship so we can make do with our imaginations)

4.Jing leaves, and then immediately after Li'er is forced to walk a bit to the escort sent by Zheng that has been waiting for her. She takes off the scarf he gave her, puts it away and tells herself that she is now dead, and must let everything go. The journey to the palace is filmed much like her arrival, only as she enters the palace, Jing fights his duel. She is forced to part with the dagger her grandfather gave her as weapons are not allowed in the harem. She tells the chamberlain to take good care of it because she wants to be buried with it.

5.In a very poignant scene, she sits in a bath tub of flowers and roses, being bathed and usually in dramas this is always filmed as a great time as you are being pampered but the actress channels in her misery very well, she just sits there, tears streaming down her face, both horrified and upset that this is her future now


6.Meanwhile, The Grand Queen Dowager, who is in charge of the harem, learns from a concubine that a commoner from Wey has entered. This is a pretty big deal because the Emperor did not even notify her, which tells us how much he considers her opinion. In addition, not only has he not had anyone new to the harem, but a commoner--to be in a harem of someone as powerful as Qin, you are almost always a daughter of an official or diplomat, it's like a promise to be loyal by giving a family member. She is a nobody. Still the Dowager acknowledges that this could be good if the Emperor is interested in having kids

7.In a dramatic scene change, we find Li'Er holding a sharp pin to her neck, looking like she is going to kill herself. It ends with her in bed, and a doctor recognizing that she is pregnant. At first he won't tell her, stating he must speak to the king first, but she is clearly confused and doesn't know what is wrong with her until she makes him tell her the truth: she is pregnant, and has been for about a month

8.Meanwhile Jing returns, and learns the awful truth from Tuan because Li'er couldn't do it herself. He rides off, presumably to rescue her.

9.In a very telling scene, the Emperor visits Li'er's rooms for the first time. She sits rigidly on the bed, her hair is up, the clothing she wears is rigid--everything about it is the exact opposite of the warm, soft girl from before. The emperor tells her that she must never think of any other man again. She wants to know why her, why not another? He tells her that he would be bored with a woman just bowing to his every wish. He goes a step farther and tells her that the more she resists, the more excited he will be as he relishes the idea of conquering her.

10.Then, the doctor reveals she is pregnant. The emperor is furious, and insists that it be aborted. She says that if he wants to kill her child he will have to kill her. He pulls a sword and tells her to never think he won't kill her as well....

PHEW
So basically, we learned a lot. Li'er's decision to consummate her love with Jing Ke is very telling because she initiated it. Not him. This is almost like a personal victory because she is choosing for once who she will lay with because she won't have that freedom much longer. Sadly, her desire to protect Jing by not telling him the truth is kind of sad because it is really a decision to protect herself from the storm that will come. She doesn't want to deal with that. It's selfish, but I would probably do the same thing. Besides, if she told him, it would only endanger him and the people around her.

The emperor...my goodness if there was someone lacking in the emotion/relationship department. He is in love with her but I doubt he will he ever tell her. he isn't an idiot. He knows you don't normally force someone to be your lover, whether it's to protect them by keeping close or simply out of lust, you shouldn't do that. For the emperor, his everything is unifying the states. he has risked a lot for that. she is a weakness. so this is really his one selfish action.

Maybe he will treat her cruelly to minimize her value thus protecting her. or maybe he just is clumsy emotionally and thinks that she is probably angry with him, and there is a thin line between love and hate, so if she hates him then at least she is thinking of him. after all the opposite of hate or love is indifference. i am super curious to see how she holds onto herself because even if she submitted he would like it---he is thoroughly in love with her, and unlike Jing, whose love for her is so great that he feels unworthy for her, his is much more human--and certainly carnal.

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Aug 28, 2017

Episode 6 Summary: Antidote

-Li'er makes the life altering choice to ride to the city, just as the Emperor planned her to, in order to obtain the life saving antidote for Jing.

-The details of their meeting are very specific. As she rides to the city the emperor is shown getting ready. As she walks into the city on a cloudy, misty day escorted by guards the emperor is shown walking towards his throne flanked by his guards. It is all very stark. In the very empty throne room (which I think essentially describes Zheng: alone) she waits, looking tired and worn out from her ride. And the emperor observes her from the shadows, first asking her why she does not kneel, and so she drops to her knees, head bowed in supplication. The emperor makes some personal remarks 'you've lost weight since I last saw you' and then she looks up, and the camera slowly rises, filming everything from her line of vision, beginning with his feet, and up his robes, and then his face. This is all for dramatic effect to show the viewer how shocked she must be to see that the emperor is the merchant she met.

-She doesn't understand why he is doing this, and basically says so, and he is direct: I want you (yes, he says that). She is given the illusion of choice: you can enter the palace and be mine, and in return receive the antidote, or choose not to and not receive the antidote. But then Jing will die. She asks for three months in return for the antidote, and he agrees.

-After she leaves, the emperor remarks to his retainer 'Am I not clever?' with the statement that she is the only person who can arouse jealousy in him. This is so far about as close as he has ever gotten to admitting out loud that he actually loves her.

-Li'er returns with the antidote, and explains to Tuan the nature of her ordeal, and her promise. She rationalizes her choice, and explains that this is not necessarily a bad thing because now she will no longer be an obstacle in Jing's lofty ambitions of helping the world. This is probably the optimist in her but at night, she cries herself to sleep (so sad!) and has to hide these fears and pains because she does not tell Jing the truth. Why she lies, I don't know, because he will find out eventually. Maybe she just wanted to enjoy these last few weeks.

-Meanwhile, during this time the emperor thinks about her a lot and maybe he feels a smidge of regret but I think he has reached a point in his way of thinking that he must be cruel to achieve his goals--for instance, solidifying his power, stabilizing his state, and ultimately conquering the other states all require him to be extremely ruthless. Why should he be any different in his personal affairs, and can he even afford to be different in his private affairs?

-Li Su, a retainer of Lu Buwei, who so impressed the emperor earlier, continues to offer advice. In front of the ministers, when asked what he should do, he advises the emperor to focus on toppling Han as it has grown weak and is near them. it will shock the other states. The advice pleases him, and he is promoted to officer.

-Jing plans to go on a journey, a short one, and I think she plans to use his time away as her chance to return to the Emperor. Tuan is her ally in fabricating lies in order to make the transition as painless as possible.

Note: I think it is interesting to note note that the relationship between the Emperor and Li'er is essentially one built out of lies, mistrust, and coercion. Now anyone can tell you that this is not a good recipe for romance. In fact it has everything you should try to avoid in a healthy relationship. But that is modern day views. Let's go back to the ancient world. Now women in China were never greatly empowered. And the emperor is basically a god. Given the war and the disease and chance of death at any moment, this is actually a pretty good deal for her. Especially since he seems to really like her.

But Li'er is no ordinary ancient world woman, so we can reject all of that. What I think makes this so pitiful for Li'er is that her childhood is so different from Zheng. She was loved, she was raised by an extraordinarily honorable man who sacrificed his life for his country. There was always someone there for her, and that allowed her to grown into such a positive and happy person.

In stark contrast, Zheng has been deceived and hurt by everyone around him, and he has grown into an extremely ruthless man who relies only on himself. This is a recipe for disaster. She even grew up free, without the restraint of palace rules and intrigue. If two people could be more different, then this is it. Just some thoughts.

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Episode 5 Summary: When What Needs To Be Cut Is Not, The Consequences Are Unfathomable

So This is Likely the Beginning of the Dark Episodes

Characters Added:
Tian Guan: A very wise and smart man, friend of Gien Nie

Yao Jia: A 'sorcerer' who is a close confidante of the Emperor, in charge of handling secretive and 'dirty' tasks

-The episode opens up to a misleadingly calm scene: The emperor is leisurely feeding fish when a retainer reports that the wanted posters of Li'er have been posted everywhere. The emperor explains that Yao Jia has been given a special task, and if he fails, he promises to give him a horrible death--what is that task I wonder?

-Elsewhere, Jin and Li'er are bidding goodbye to Lan'er and her father. Jin continues to state he does not know why Li'er is being pursued. Lan'er suggests it is because they stood against Qin in the battle of Pyang. Gie Nie gives Jin a note and tells him that if they are in trouble, give it to Tian Guan, someone who could surely help them (Let me just say I hate this--how the heck are they going to know where to find this fellow?)

-Meanwhile, Zheng stops by to visit the Chancellor whose retainer reports he has a cold and cannot see him. The retainer is different from other retainers, and a bit bold. The emperor learns that he is named Li Si, and is a desciple of Meng Ke. This interests Zheng, as he is not a fan of Confucius teachings. At the emperor's suggestion, he correctly deduces that Zheng's goal is to unite the other states by defeating them, and that now is the right time because they are weak. He then explains that Confucius teachings are restrictive and impractical if one wants to rule a country. He also offers advice when asked: that the Emperor essentially do whatever must be done, and to be ruthless if he is to succeed other wise weakness will basically lead to ruin--advice he takes.

-Meanwhile, Li'er and Jing meet their first obstacle. Li'er is again disguised as a boy, extremely poorly since she doesn't even try to conceal the fact that she, you know, has a chest. They say they are going to a wedding. It is extraordinarily suspicious, and naturally they attract attention. They barely manage to escape.

-Back at the capital, in a truly brutal but historically acurate scene, the Grand Queen Dowager (so his grandma) and Zheng stand while the Dowager Queen kneels with her young children from the Marquis who rebelled. The Grand Dowager essentially reubukes her for her poor judgment and action and then Zheng hands down judgment: that the children must die. The Queen Dowager begs and cries and pleas but he coldly tells her that she basically should have known better, and that if he weren't the Emperor they could live. So they are executed.

-While camping after their escape, Li'er again explains her dream is to live a normal life with Jing, and that she wants peace.

-Back to the emperor, who hosts a lavish dinner with his top ministers. Lu Buwei is present, as is the Queen Dowager, invited back to the palace from exile. Dancers perform a scandalous song, We Feng, about a woman's adultery, which prompts Lu Buwei to express his outrage. The emperor accuses him of plotting to usurp the throne by spreading false truths, that he is his child, and when his mother intervenes to explain Lu Buwei has only protected them, he takes the opportunity to humiliate her, and she realizes he has brought her back just for this. It is extremely cruel, and showcases his desire to accomplish revenge is achieved only to well. he is angry. He demotes the chancellor to prime minister, his mother is banished to the southern palace and no one may enter or leave without his permission. (Lu Buwei, by the way, stood up for his mother)

-In the aftermath Lu Buwei decides that it is time to step down, in spite of all that he has done for Qin.

-Elsewhere, Jing and Li'er are attacked by the Fire element soldier. Jing is injured but they are allowed to escape--it seems this was the plan all along, and the soldier states that she should soon be coming to the palace on her own free will.

-She runs into Tuan, how convenient, who is possibly one of the most spry old men out there, and she learns from him that Jing has been poisoned and she must go to the palace for the antidote. He also explains that this has all been a cleverly constructed plot by the emperor, which shows he wants her more than anything. She doesn't know why, and he says what I was yelling out the t.v.: because you are beautiful (basically, he wants to f**** you--that is the message. come on you were all thinking it)

So five episodes in, and the plot is established for her to enter the palace.

Notes: I think it is interesting how both Jing and Zheng love her, and while I am sure they appreciate her, she seems to represent things for the two of them. For Jing, I think it is hope, and for Zheng, I think it is something like innocence and loyalty--they both are things that they want-

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Aug 28, 2017

Episode 4 Summary: Isolated & Alone

Note: I think this episode is important because it clearly establishes the foundation for understanding why the Emperor becomes incredibly domineering in his future relationship with Li'er (in my opinion).

New Characters:
Lan'er: The daughter of Legendary Martial Artist Gie Nie (recall he has fled Qin and is even stronger in combat than Gongsun a.k.a gramps)

Crown Prince Yan, Yan Dan

Madame Min: A royal concubine to Zheng
Maname Chu: A royal concubine to Zheng

-We open up where we left off. Chengjiao raises his sword and the Qin army General orders the army forward but Zheng harshly rebukes him to stop. He the focuses on his little brother, whom he coldly and calmly implores to abandon his futile plan. He explains to him that this is a battle he cannot win however Chengjiao retorts that he is honor bound to do this, for their father. This seems to provoke Zheng a bit, who almost out of derision points out that he would sacrifice the lives of Qin soldiers, in a battle he knows he cannot win, for something that happened so long ago and may or may not be true.

-And then, in my opinion, the director DESTROYS the tension by having Zheng break out into a childhood song about family. The effect is oddly similar to the First Hobbit film, when the dwarves break out into song, but it lacks the same impact because a)it is a kid's song and b)seems so out of character for the emperor to do. Still, it has the desired effect of uniting both armies. Chengjiao drops his sword, recognizing his army will no longer fight for him and in the woods, the Prince of Zhao (who is heavily painted as a coward given he is colluding with Lu Buwei for protection and operating in the shadows but heck you do what you have to do to survive)

-Zheng decrees that in the future no soldier in Qin is to raise arms against a fellow soldier. He then banishes his brother, severing their ties and says he is never going to see him again. In a poignant moment he turns his back on him, literally and figuratively and Chengjiao, realizing what he has lost, screams 'brother' dramatically (that was a bit over the top in my opinion but everything about this show is).

-Elsewhere, Jing is practicing martial arts in the woods (this must be some time skip because it was cold and winter where the battle with Zheng was but here it is a green forest) and Li'er paints. In the spirit of many shows and films, she is something of a contradiction: on the one hand she can fight but on the other hand she is very feminine. It makes her a little over the top perfect: she's beautiful, she can sew, she is smart, she can do just about anything it seems. What is her weakness?

-Jing stops to view her drawing and she explains to him that she would very much like to withdraw from the world and live together with him. But Jing says that it's his responsibility to live for the world. She hastily states it's a silly idea and realizing he's hurt her he grabs her hand and tells her that he would try this with her, to see how long it lasts.

---Let's just point out how he is likely Very different from the Emperor--

-Meanwhile, the Crown Prince of Yan drinks with the emperor, who wonders what he did wrong and is clearly upset by the fact that Chengjiao committed an act that left him no choice but to exile him. Yan points out that being the emperor is to blame, and were he not, this never would have happened. He tells him that Chengjiao was likely manipulated--and asks the emperor to think about who would benefit from that?

hmmm.....I wonder who??

-In the next scene, the emperor sits on his throne in the dark, completely alone. The only person there is Lu Buwei who tells the emperor that he will never abandon him. And this infuriates the emperor, who coldly explains that Chengjiao was always with him, that in spite of him being the emperor he never asked for anything or expected anything, and he's gone now. he accuses Lu Buwei and his mother of taking away everyone who has ever meant anything to him and for making him completely alone--he tells Lu Buwei that he never wants to see him again

-Meanwhile, Jin encounters a skilled female martial artist by the name of Lan'er. Apparently she is the daughter of Gie Nie and looking for him. They find him, and Jing asks to be his desciple but he is rejected. Lan'er clearly likes both Li'er and Jing (I somehow think she will fall in love with Jing) and she and Lan'er, who essentially have the same life history except her father is alive, swear to be best friends forever (not going to last...)

-Back in the harem, the Grand Queen Dowager sits with the top concubines and learns that Zheng has never once slept with them. The only heir to the throne is Fusu, a child of a long dead concubine. That's it. Most emperors and kings have like 50 kids. So this is a big deal. She learns from Zheng that he wants a queen who is both smart and a warrior....and until that person is found he won't name a queen.

-The episode ends with the Emperor issuing an edict that Li'er be captured and brought to him.

My Thoughts:

I think that the scene in the throne room is important to really gaining insight into the emperor's actions , that follow. Everyone he has loved has been taken from him due to the scheming of others. The people he was supposed to trust, who were supposed to care for him (mother and 'uncle') used him for their own gain and everyone wants to kill him. Li'er is the only remaining person whom he cares about. It isn't surprising that he will likely do everything in his power to force her to his side and prevent others from taking her. I feel very bad for her. And for him.

I gave the episode an 8.5. because of some of the writing--the plot devices don't bother me because chinese dramas are chock full of tropes but the execution could be improve upon. The contrast between the emperor, and then Li Er whose living a strangely upbeat life in spite of everything that has happened to her--is odd. For comparison, Journey of Flower had an extremely cheerful female lead, but the show was fairly consistent with her being cheerful--I think that if Li Er was less of a paragon of womanhood than maybe it might seem less jarring--she transforms from confident swordsman, to someone with thoughts about the state, then to a girlish person so quickly that while not unbelievable it is a bit difficult to execute into seamless plot.

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Aug 28, 2017

Episode 3 Review: A Brother's Betryal

Characters Added (May Have appeared earlier but they take center stage now)

Lord Chengjiao: A beloved younger brother to the Emperor (I will continue to refer to Zheng as this even if it is still a little to early since there are so many Kings)

Zhao Gao: A (eunech, I think) who is a servant to the Emperor

Tuan Du: Minister who betrayed the Zhao royal family

Crown Prince Jia: Last surviving member of the Zhao royal family

Danding Sect: A sect infamous for kidnapping retainers

Historical Context: Basically Zhao is the only state powerful enough that can face Qin.

Ahem: There is a Lot going on in this episode.

-We open up to where we left off: Zheng is at the bedside of Li'er. In a flashback we receive more information on her harrowing intervention to save his life when they were children: when Zheng was fleeing Zhao state, which was holding him prisoner at the time, soldiers were sent to kill kill him. Li'Er, who couldn't have been older than ten, uses her body as a shield as a soldier prepares to kill him. But he fails, because Jin appears and stabs him in the back. Thus these two were both responsible for saving his life (I bet Jin will regret that!).

-Elsewhere, the Chancellor Lu Buwei reflects upon his current state, and his loss of power. He regrets sending the Marquis to seduce the Queen Dowager and appease her lust (while there is nothing wrong with that, her weakness causes problems) (the audience is also treated to an over the top man-seducing woman scene). But it is evident he only has regret because his plan failed.

-Meanwhile, we go to Jin (I forgot to add it but last episode he was fleeing pursuers who were after Li'er). He led them outside the city to protect her. He reveals to the warrior who rescued him-Lu--that they were actually looking for him. Jin explains he has no idea why anyone would be after Li'er. Warrior Lu suggests that since Gongsang (gramps) died for the state, and she is his only heir, that these pursuers, whom he recognized as the Danding Sect, must be after the Legendary Huluo Sword Tecnhnique Guide (sounds like something out of Dragon Ball Z).

-Jin wonders if the guide is the blue piece of silk master left him (OMG HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW IF YOU HAVE IT?)

-MEANWHILE, Chancellor Lu Buwei is meeting with the Queen Dowager. They are discussing the current plan to send, in total, 100,000 troops to deal with the Shandang rebel army, whom they believe to be assisted by Zhao State. Chancellor suggests that Lord Chengjiao be given the lead over half of these troops, something the Queen is initially against until Lu Buwei explains that it is an opportunity to test his loyalty to the king

(now why would Lu Buwei do something like that when everything that Lu Buwei does is for Lu Buwei? Well that is quickly explained!)

-In a shocking flashback, we learn that the previous king, on his death bed, asked Lu Buwei to write an edict naming Chengjiao as the crown prince. Lu Buwei scoffs at this and tells the king that he owes everything, including his title, to him so he and the Queen decided that his eldest son, Zheng'er, would be a much better choice. He laughs and walks off--says a lot about somebody if they can do that on the death bed. He could have just let him die but he had to have that final dig.

-We then go back to Li'er, who awakens. Zheng continues to masquerade as a merchant, and after he asks, she explains she protected him because her grandfather taught her to use martial arts to protect people. The King of Wey enters, and she gets on her knees to greet him, showing him a great deal of respect and regard. The king of Wey awkwardly follows along with the ruse Zheng has concoted. Here they learn that she has been looking for the Warrior Lu and that Pu Yang City has fallen to Qin. Both men are shocked.

-She is surprised the king still does not know, and Zheng explains that Qin closely guards Wey, that he is essentially under house arrest, and no person or news is allowed in without the Emperor's permission. Both men leave as a retainer of Zheng calls him out to deliver news. He learns of Lu Buwei's collusion with the Queen to face Zhao, and he views the plan to summon Chengjaio as a plot, but for what end he does not know. he advises his brother to not go. But his brother explains that the Queen has always despised him and unless he does this, then it could be bad for him.

-The Emperor returns to Xiangyang (the capital, I think), but just before leaving the King of Wey presents him with an extremely cheesy gift (you have to watch the delivery). He supposes that the Emperor must care for Li'er. But the emperor refuses to acknowledge this, suggesting that the King of Wey would probably kill her if he did not know that she was important to him. He says that whether she lives or dies is all up to her (he wants no weaknesses!).

----shortly before this scene we also learn, though his thoughts, that the emperor has always been in love with Li'er and most of his conversation with her is trying to figure out if she is single--

-Meanwhile, Jin has tracked Li'er down. He is happy she is fine, and as they leave he asks the King of Wey how Li'er was allowed in considering the tight control exercised by Qin--wouldn't they have needed the Emperor's permisison (der) but the King of Wey gives a vague answer and Jin let's it go.

-Back in the capital, Zhao Gao intimates to the King that the use of Lord Chengjiao is likely a plot that may lead to rebellion--but this angers the Emperor and he snaps at him

-Elsewhere, Chengjiao is visited by a hooded man, purportedly sent by the Crown Prince Jia (of Zhao). He tosses him a note, and it is written in red--to make Chengjiao the crown prince because Zheng'er is not my son--i.e. this is the last will and testament of the previous king. At first, Chengjiao is disgusted and flings the note away. But the hooded man shows his identity--he IS Jia--and shares a sad story about Zhao--that his family may have survived were it not for the betrayal of a minister, Tuan Du, who led to Qin executing the entire family. This is important, because he then points out how odd it is that Madame Ziyu (Chengjiao's mother) died suddenly in a drowning accident--and how convenient it was.

-Chengjiao puts the piece's together--it seems that Lu Buwei, Zheng'er's supposed father, planned with the queen to kill his mother, making it easier to put Zheng on the throne. Now he is angry, and he wants revenge! He revolts. Playing right into Lu Buwei's hands.

-Back at the capital, the emperor gets a shocking notice of revolt from his brother. Ministers are shocked. Lu Buwei throws himself at the emperor's feet, pleading and explaining he has always been loyal. Zheng believes that he was pushed into this, and that his brother has a reason. He personally leads troops to fight him.

-He sends his brother a letter offering him an out and forgiveness (which shows how cherished he is because the emperor trusts no one). Chengjiao meets him on the battle field and tosses the testament at him, and Zheng'er is outraged and doubts the veracity of the letter (meanwhile, the Zhao prince waits in the woods). But his brother won't be appeased and demands that Zheng'er give him the throne, which Zheng announces he will never give up.

-End Episode-

My Thoughts: Phew, so that was a mouthful. I think it's important to point out that the show does a good job of incorporating multiple historical interpretations. For instance, it is strongly believed in China that Zheng was born out of wedlock, which has blackened his name a bit, but recently a lot of historians have questioned this.

I think that the use of color is important in this series. For instance, when Zheng is just the merchant, he dresses in white, maybe implying that he dons an entirely new role and is a different person but in reality he wears black, the colors of the Emperor (apparently this has to do with the elements and the reigns of emperor's, and black is the color of water because Zheng was born in the 'water' dynasty. It was also a very expensive dye so it shows wealth) . Incidentally, it is interesting that Zheng wears white because in ancient china that was a color of mourning. It is also ironic that his brother wears blue, because blue can symbolize tranquility and trust (yet here he is, a rebel). Black can also be a symbol for Winter and unknown times---it is currently winter and I would say this is an unknown time...

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/Chinese_Customs/colours.htm

I also think it is worth noting that Zheng, in spite of his feelings for Li'er, is not making that a priority. His priority is the stability of the state and revenge at the moment. He refuses to let her (at the moment) be a known weakness to his person.

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Episode 16
0 people found this review helpful
Aug 28, 2017

Two Stars

The series started out so well but its downfall came about in the last few episodes where we are forced to watch our SWEETHEART Gong Tae Kwang have his heart smashed and stomped on.
I assume most of the low ranking was because we were rooting for the other party.
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Aug 27, 2017

Waiting for the second round

I loved episodes 1-5. I found it really interesting how we learn little bits and pieces about every character from the different pairings they were with. It's like every person revealed something different about themselves with different people. Episode 5 was slightly different for me. I'm not sure I found it as good as the first 4. I hope the writers will be able to make the rest of the show as good as the first half despite repeating the configurations.
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