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A Snarky Journey Through Book and Sword 2002
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Thread: A Snarky Journey Through Book and Sword 2002

  1. #1
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default A Snarky Journey Through Book and Sword 2002

    Hello, my name is AnalyticChick and welcome to my episode guide/running commentary on the wonderful Chinese serial that is Book and Sword 2002. I will also be posting this text to the “Book and Sword” forum under China Series as it gets written, but as it is now long and detailed enough to qualify as an episode guide, my prevailing instinct is – why not? Also, please note that the sarcasm and writing will generally get more methodical as the posts continue. For example, I am settling into writing one chunk for every episode and furthermore separating that chronologically.

    Before we begin, I would just like to delineate some common abbreviations that I use for character names (since I write enough on this series as is):
    Chen Jia Luo – CJL - Great Helmsman
    Huo Qing Tong – HQT - Muslim Girl
    Emperor Qian Long - QL- Emperor
    Yu Yu Tong – YYT – Thirteenth Brother aka Flute Dude
    Li Yuan Zhi – LYZ – Manchu officer’s daughter aka Cross Dressing Girl
    Wen Tai Lai – WTL - Fourth Brother aka Noble Rebel Man
    Luo Bing – LB - Fourth Sister (married to Fourth Brother) aka Object of Lust
    Princess Fragrance- PF – HQT’s sister aka Fairy Pwincess
    Dowager Empress- DE – Emperor’s mom aka Royal *****
    Xu Tian Hom - XTH - Seventh Brother aka The Smart Lackey
    Zhuo Qi- ZQ – Zhou patriarch’s daughter aka Loud Girl
    Zhao Ban Shan- ZBS - Third Brother aka Fisherman
    Zhang Zhou Zhong – ZZZ – Manchi officer aka Villain For Hire
    Other Henchman - OH - QL's tall, bearded lackey who isn't ZZZ and isn't Zhou Hwai
    Zhou Hwai - ZH - QL's general who is primarily concerned with making life tough for HQT and her tribe.

    Also, I use RFS for the Red Flower Society and RFS-ers to refer to the collective gang of guys who work so diligently to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.

    The reason this body of work is a “journey” more so than an “episode guide” is because I am a highly biased observer, and furthermore relish in my partialities. Also, I make no attempt to hide them so one can figure out pretty soon which characters and storylines I prefer, and, in particular, which character I am quite obsessed with.
    If anyone would like to contend a point with me, could you please post that to the “Book and Sword“ thread in the Chinese section of this forum. If you would like a plot nuance explained, you could just post a response in this thread and I will try my best to explain myself and/or this series. However, this is all assuming that someone will actually read this thing which is definitely not a guarantee. In any case, I will write and you will enjoy.
    Thank you
    Last edited by AnalyticChick; 03-08-04 at 02:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episodes 1-6

    So yeah, it's about 2 AM in my time zone and I have just finished the first six episodes.
    Good God I love this thing. The fighting is good, really good and no one is annoying - yet. (Keep in mind that I have just seen six episodes) The cinematography is astounding and to borrow a Chinese saying, the "chiang mien" is very grand.

    And if anyone has read my ramblings over on the Ji Xiang Ru Yi thread, they will find that I am an unabashed, shameless fangirl for Guo Liang. The beginning of episode two was pure bliss with the cloak...and the wu gong... and the raw power. And then the rest of the episodes with the fighting and the scowling and the being smart and the not doing the villain laugh (you know what I'm talking about. Throw back your head and bray like a donkey laugh) and the black brocade/red trousers combo and that shot in the credits.

    See AnalyticChick swoon.

    I am so pleased with this serial. So very, very pleased. In addition to letting me stare at Zhang DaYen (I can stop anytime I want to, really...) it is a very high-quality production all around.

    Some points that amused/perplexed me:
    1) As a concession to the book, and since facial hair automatically equates age, the directors have opted to fit Guo Liang with a goatee. I mean, come on now. As the review pointed out, he looks to be the same age as Yu Yu Tong if not younger in some shots.

    2) The fact that Chen Jia Luo stayed in the decrepit templesque place until day had turned to night and that General Zhang was waiting outside when he came out, in pretty much the same pose that he had assumed after tossing Chen through the roof. These guys really have way too much time on their hands. Also, the light that glances off General Zhang's sword throughout the fight. Seeing that it was a dark night, where the heck was that light coming from?

    3) The fact that no one realizes Yuan Zhi is a girl. That really makes me laugh especially since she is feminine looking, has noticeable breasts, and has no Adam's apple. Qing Dynasty men have to get out more, no really.

    4) The sheer height of Sun Li. I don't know if it's the guys in this, but she appears to be taller than EVERYONE else in this series. It's funny, really. Even Yu Yu Tong, her intended, is shorter.

    5) Playing the who can beat up whom game. Right now I have General Zhang at the top because he can beat up Jia Luo, and has, and because Brother Four tied with Jia Luo when they were sparring. Yuan Zhi tied with Yu Tong, so both of them are out of the running. Ester could maybe beat him up, but they aren't even in the same province, so there. Incidentally, I'm hoping that he doesn't see her and fall in love with her and try to hide it but then spend the rest of his time getting shot down by her and, oops, wrong series.

    6) The hair of Seventh Brother. It apparently stays in a perfect cascade down his back at all times without any kind of clip. No seriously, what's up with that? And the guy with the highlights in his hair needs to be reminded that he is living in ancient China.

    7) Seriously, if you are emperor of China, you should be able to afford some security. In the episodes I watched, and in most series, the Imperial palace seems to be a hotel in which all manner of rabble can freely roam in and out.

    8)When General Zhang barricaded the gates and searched for Red Flower sympathizers, what exactly did he tell his soldiers to look for? It's not as if people look different if they are Red Flower members or act more suspicious or carry their RFS photo IDs with them. Hence the debacle that was the fleeing from the city.

    9) On a more philosophical note, why exactly are the Red Flower Society rebelling again? The Chinese dynasty system was highly driven by the personality and talent of the emperor. So Qiang Long is generally accepted to be a pretty good guy and ruler. The society is stable and the peasants seem to be happy and prosperous enough. Okay, some officers are totally out of line, but that happens in every dynasty. Have any Ming emperors been any better? Also, if the Ming Dynasty were to come back, who would be the emperor? Just wondering. It's just ironic that if Dai Chun Yin (protagonist of Ji Xiang Ru Yi) were to be in this series, he would be the villain due to his devotion to the (same) emperor and willingness to attack the enemies of the emperor. And it's generally hard to wage warfare based on racial lines (Han versus Manchu) when those two races have basically similar customs, traditions and furthermore LOOK THE SAME.

  3. #3
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episodes 7-10

    So I bit the bullet and finally got some new episodes today. Anyways, I got through four of these wonderful capsules this evening in an orgy of B&S (interesting initials all around in this series, no?). Basically, there was the Three Gorges fiasco a couple of centuries too early, the whole playing Keep-Away with the Koran, YYT angsts, the couple who wouldn't survive in New York for the proverbial New York minute, and the new arc with the mass killings of CJL's sister’s family. In general, I feel myself drawn more and more into the story. I think a way the series manages to keep my interest is by keeping story arcs relatively short. Also, they have a very deep pool of main and secondary characters. Just when you get tired of the A plotline, you can dive into the B,C, X, SY, or KW plotlines. Just when you are tired of CJL and HQT, you can see WTL and LB moon over one another, or LYX stalk YYT. Two thumbs way up for this.

    So, more specifically, what did my overheated brain make of the information it was presented tonight? Just some more points organized by arc (for your easy consumption and my easy production)

    Village/Officer/Famine/Flood Arc:
    So if we throw a couple of kids into the sea, everything will be alright again... And no.
    But seriously, the best idea that the "genius" brother Seven has after they have killed a Qing officer and distributed army commandeered grain to the populace is "Hey, let's bury all the bodies in the back mountains and no one will be the wiser." Dude, I know Qian Long is preoccupied with playing chess and pursing his lips and being a tool and everything, but I would assume someone should be paying at least some modicum of attention.
    Also, am having harder time distinguishing the brothers now that there are more of them.
    Finally, I found it amusing when it took the mass of peasants from night to day to get from the doors of the officer's court to where the grain was being distributed.

    Koran/You have it/Do not/Do too:
    The geography of this place keeps confusing me. So the Hua tribe keeps following their Koran closer and closer to Beijing, but still manage to return to the same camp every night?
    Also, CJL starts riding after they have dispatched with the grateful village. Some attacks are launched on the Lin party and then about two days later, he is STILL riding. Right, that.
    LYZ's dad struck me as an overblown windbag at the beginning, but I am starting to enjoy his subtle sense of humor, his snarky comments and his befuddlement and subsequent attempts at damage control. Now I know where his daughter gets it from.
    Still, am feeling so much love for YYT now due to his absolute command of timing and inflection. He is my second favorite character. The obsessive teenage girl (a little close to home for me...) that follows/stalks him is also well liked by me. She comes in third.
    And this might be me getting soft, but I actually enjoyed the scenes between CJL and HQT. They were sweet and charmingly awkward. Although they bordered on the maudlin at times, there was always LYZ to pull it back into snark-land. Another reason she comes in third for me.

    YYT angsts/Writes bad death poetry/Gets a livejournal/etc.:
    So YYT has a TRAGIC PAST. He apparently also has the ability to survive despite massive amounts of blood loss. He is also setting himself up for mounds of disappointment when he lusts after his brother's/best friend's woman. Believe you me, Mr. Yu, watch Ji Xiang Ru Yi to see why it can never be.
    Hey, that rhymed!

    The place where everybody knows your name:
    Hi, you are complete strangers to us and are armed to the teeth to boot. So why don't you come into our home! Share our house! Go ahead, play with our children! I think that everyone in the village just found a huge store of Prozac right before the WTL couple found them, which would explain this whole segment.
    Also, didn't exactly catch the nesting speeches by LB or the end of the Wise Old Man speech as was flipping thorough the new issue of National Geography. So there are mountains and soft lighting and marital bliss. Next!

    CJL's sister/The WTL's find themselves in a whole mess of trouble:
    Ah, Suo Da Ge! How could you have been so heartless? Why aren't you a complete and utter marshmallow this time around who folds at the slightest drop of a hat? And what is up with you and high places. Repeat after me, "I am not a bird, I am not a plane..."
    Seriously, that was cold and v. v. not nice. The events afterwards also lead me to believe that the RFS are the most unobservant people in the world. So not only do they not realize LYZ is not a guy, they fail to realize the totally smarmy, calculating, weasel-like Tong 18 does not have the best interests of the RFS at heart. I mean, come on. Even a radical revolutionary groups should have some standards.

    General Comment/You knew this was coming:
    Where the hell is ZZZ. Just all the time. He "plots" off screen for about two episodes and his best plan of attack is to... do nothing and allow the rebels to run wild and destroy the Qing way of life. I mean, I'm assuming he has some master plan, but I don't understand how "Let's pretend I'm not in this series" can help his goal.
    Additionally, why does he keep giving up when he has almost beaten the good guys. Generally, if you want to wear someone or something down, you don't wait UNTIL they have recovered their strength to launch successive attacks. Like the whole thing with the Koran. So I burst out of the box alone and fight with CJL and then I leave. What?
    I still think he is smart as to border on the supernatural at times (Knowing the location of the RFS main base) but the inconsistency is ridiculous.
    Also, why are the good guys so darn jumpy? I mean, they have to contend with ONE bad guy who is only contracted to show up for about five minutes per four episodes. So, they've got the rest of the time free to deal with other nice, upright, protagonists and generally make merry without fear of repercussions.

  4. #4
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 11

    Only got one episode in last night. And yes, I will be doing this after every chunk of B&S I watch. I mean, my parents are tired of my running commentary on the show so I thought I would share it with you fine people.

    Kay, episode 11 in which WTL is (very slowly) dying, YYT comes back, Tong 18 is a weasel, ZZZ actually shows up, and we get embroiled into the fun and quirky Zhou family.

    Let’s find WTL:
    So Fourth Brother is misplaced. Let's go look for him! Apparently, we can't just send him an e-mail or call him like civilized people. We just have to find him the old fashioned way - on foot, though not so far away that we can't get back to our little gathering place at the end of the day. However, if the Qing Dynasty can't find him, what makes you think that you guys can? Conversely, if you guys can find him, wouldn't that mean that the bad guys could as well? However, I was kind of pleased that the show respects my intelligence enough to point out many times that the village/city they are in is on the road to the capital as to explain why the whole cast ends up in this one-horse town.
    WTL, while all this is going on, is having a pleasant time very slooooowly dying of all manner of internal injuries. Except for the parts when he needs to beat people up. Then he puts the dying on hiatus.

    Boys will be boys:
    The problem with having most of your main characters as guys is that they tend to, well, act like guys. Take for example WTL who wants to, not considering his wife, younger brother, or the family which is offering him sanctuary, fight to the death with ZZZ as to affirm his masculinity and general rebel cachet. Dude, even if you managed to kill ZZZ and ALL of his troops in the Zhou manor, then you would attract attention from the government on the Zhous. Not a very good way to repay people’s hospitality, IMHO. Also, ZZZ. Competition is good – it is the lifeblood of capitalism. But when you drop your mission and hence goal in life to chase after someone just because you felt your competence called into question - Not so smart. And the random “Lets just go in and kill everyone” brothers in the RFS fit into this category as well.
    YYT also has this “It’s my fault that WTL is dying/ZZZ is trying to kill you because I deserted you way back when” thing going on. I beg to differ. If YYT was with the rest of the merry band, he would have gotten beat up by the Qing warriors/ZZZ along with WTL and LB. Thus injured, he would then no be able to do that whole “swoop and save” bit. The way that you can tell a good guy in a Chinese series? If he/she blames all events, pertinent or not on him on herself, chances are you’ve got yourself a live one.

    Also, I found it funny that in the bathing scene, they had to float a towel on the water in Seven Brother’s basin so that no parts that shouldn’t show would show.

    Additionally found it amusing that the Zhou patriarch, you know, the quirky but oh-so righteous one? He played (will play actually considering the real life chronologies) Ou Bai in Ji Xiang Ru Yi. I find this amusing. I wonder if these actors that do series together but in different roles ever get confused what to call one another.

    And finally. I think that I really made a connection to CJL in this episode. After all, he dreams about ZZZ as well.
    Last edited by AnalyticChick; 02-24-04 at 01:37 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 12

    It actually startles me how much time I need to devote to every episode of this series. First there is the viewing. Then there is the clipping, and the copying, and the screenshoting and the snarky commenting. All in all, I have decided to stop the actual viewing until I get caught up with all of this other stuff. Just in case, you know, you cared.

    The capture of WTL/Ray Leung gets to go do another series:
    WTL and ZZZ fight, obviously. Sometimes I wish these two could surprise all of us by maybe breaking out into song or something like that, but not this time. The good guys decide that attacking ZZZ one at a time would be a better idea than charging him all at once. You know, I once thought that the sole property of disposable evil henchman, but this show has opened my eyes to so many new phenomenons. So the good guys lose, though WTL gets to perform a Noble Gesture.

    WTF? (And no, that isn’t a new character abbreviation):
    So there is being responsible to one’s guests and then there is just plain crazy. Guess which category the Zhou patriarch belongs in? Yes, the kid made a mistake. But haven’t you ever seen “Kids Say the Darndest Things”? Besides, if WTL hadn’t spent so much time trying to Be A Man and just went into that hole in the first place, their hosts could have time to first put the kid in a safe place and then gone into the front room to welcome/contain ZZZ. After all, it is hard to convince the already suspicious guy with the sword that nothing is in your back garden when everyone of importance is in said back garden and clustered around a “perfectly normal” gazebo to boot.
    So WTL is captured. At least he is alive. Also, he is an adult who has conscientiously choosem to make trouble for the regime in power, well knowing the repercussions and dangers such actions entail. The Zhou boy, on the other hand, got tricked by two adults into saying one wrong thing. If being hoodwinked by ZZZ is grounds for death, then most of the protagonists should commit hari-kari during the course of the next few episodes.

    Adultery is so cute, dontcha think?:
    This series also teaches us that getting beaten up renders women delirious and men stupid. LB, feverish, is taken by YYT to a “safe” location in the middle of a conveniently placed woodlands. Once again, I will say that the geography of this place confounds me.
    She, in a daze, confuses YYT with her husband and plunges into a shocked YYT’s arms. Hilarity ensues upon her surprisingly fast recovery. YYT, instead of explaining like a normal human being, instead takes the blame for his uncontrollable hormones and asks her to kill him. Once again, you can tell they are in a Chinese television serial because instead of telling each other in plain terms what has transpired, the characters instead equivocate to cause tension that can be exploited at a later period.

    Definitely more homoerotic than they meant it:
    WTL’s relationship to ZZZ gets explored in this scene. If anyone hasn’t seen this series (which begs the question as to why you’re reading this), think of two small, small children arguing. One points to a purple ball and says “Blue.” The other, just as convinced (but infinitely cuter ), says “Red.”
    First of all, the good guys have found a way to wage a racial conflict among members of the same race. Good going with that. Also, ZZZ is not oppressing his own “race” just for kicks, he is making trouble for you guys because you are causing social unrest and breaking laws to boot.
    On the whole, though, I am more inclined to agree with ZZZ, although not purely becasue I really like the guy. It is true that the masses are, on the most part, happy and prosperous given what we have seen of the towns and villages in this Qing Dynasty. So WTL, and the rest of the RPS, basically has problems with corrupt officials oppressing the people. Valid point, that and a serious matter to address when power is given to an oligarchy. But how will causing massive revolutions and disrupting countless people’s lives ameliorate this problem? And how do you know a Ming regime will be any wiser or more considerate to the people? Also, QL seems to be a good emperor as emperors go. After all, he commands more storehouses to be opened after hearing of the RFS’s actions in opening one village's grain storehouse to feed the flood victims. So let’s solve the problem of corrupt officials by getting rid of a generally well meaning and competent emperor.
    If they really wanted to, and considering their stellar natural conditions, the RFS guys could work inside the system to bring about change and better lives for the common people. After all, look at ZZZ for an example of a Han becoming one of the emperor’s close advisors. Also, in the meta-serial universe, look at Ji Xiao Lang as well.
    Just something I noticed, ZZZ doesn’t actually lock WTL’s cell. So he’s basically keeping a really important and dangerous political prisoner in an unlocked and unguarded chamber? Sometimes, Zhang DaYen, I really wonder how you managed to get as far as you did in your professional career.
    Finally, if there is such a thing as Book and Sword fanfiction, I am willing to bet money that someone has written a ZZZ/WTL yaoi fic about this period of WTL’s captivity. The strong emotions, power differentials, and prison setting seem to beg some off-kilter female mind to produce such a thing.

    Big, massive, whopping fight at the Zhou Manor.
    Deus ex machina strikes this series, not for the first time might I add, and somehow ZQ (Zhou Qi) is walking around the same forest YYT and LB were hiding in in the middle of the night. In any case, there are misunderstandings, because how else could we cause conflict between two virtuous parties. Also, since we are in a Jing Yong world, people just fight all the time. You know, life here in the Big Apple would be so much more interesting if we solved all our problems through kick-*** martial arts exhibitions. Someone cut you off at the light? Jump up fifty feet and have it out with fists and legs a-flying.
    So the Zhou patriarch and CJL fight, eventually, after Tong 18 does a damn fine job of playing both sides towards the middle. Due to the fact that he is the protagonist of this series, the other characters are contractually obligated to respectfully watch on the sideline. This gives Tong 18 the opportunity to sneak out and set fire to the Zhou manor, which takes an amazingly short amount of time to burn down. Faced with the ashes of an once great complex, the dead body of a pre-pubescent boy, and the fact of the Zhou matriarch leaving her husband, the RFS boys apologize. Not that it’ll do any good, but it’s the thought that counts.
    Also, apparently having CJL calling his son a “little hero” is enough to justify his murder for the Zhou patriarch. Oh those wacky Qing guys, they have such wacky ideas.

    Denouement to the Big, massive, whopping fight at the Zhou Manor.
    ZQ and XTH (Zu Tian Hom) bicker. In case the fighting wasn’t enough to interest viewers, the producers are covering all their bases and adding in a romantic comedy setup as well.
    YYT angsts to a little white handkerchief that has vestiges of LB love. Poor guy. Just go with Sun Li, she’s both a female AND unattached. Also, anyone get the feeling that Tenth Brother is also crushing on LB? I guess that’s what happens when you throw one girl to thirteen guys.
    The RFS also discuss strategy. Like most meetings, it doesn’t get much done. Contrast CJL’s style of consensus leadership to ZZZ’s “do what I tell you or else I kill you” approach. Sure ZZZ has more overhead costs, but he also gets stuff done.

    Homoeroticism, Part II:
    Oh come on, now you’re just making it too easy for fanfic writers. They do have very fertile imaginations you know and a quasi bondage scene between ZZZ and WTL is just asking for it.
    If you consider it, ZZZ is actually pretty noble for a villain. I mean, he fights clean for the most part. He doesn’t torture WTL and even lets him heal. He also doesn’t take advantage of his opponents when they down, although that may have more to do with the fact that he is not in nearly enough of the episodes.
    So ZZZ’s utilitarian! He’s loyal! He’s pretty good in an argument! Observe:
    WTL: Your emperor has deep, dark secrets. He isn’t who you think he is. Don’t you want to know why he captured me?
    ZZZ: What the emperor wants me to know, I will know. What he doesn’t want me to know, I don’t need to know. More would be superfluous.
    So he’s a lackey, but so are most of the RFS boys. After all, not everyone can be a leader. And frankly, if being a lackey entailed the kind of power, fulfillment and self-satisfaction that ZZZ derives from it, then what’s wrong with that? He is obviously in a field that he loves.

    Random stuff then happens. RFS make their first foolproof plan to save WTL. The Zhou son is buried. The credits roll and I go to sleep.
    Last edited by AnalyticChick; 02-24-04 at 01:37 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 13

    You’ve Got Sleepless At My Best Friend’s Wedding And a Funeral
    Ah the blossoming of young hearts, the joining together of two souls, the constant bickering between two diametrically incompatible characters which cannot help but turn to passion.
    Right.
    So ZQ and XTH are in love, just neither of them realizes it at this point. He’s a klutz – she’s apparently not. He’s clever – she’s definitely not. The RFS got her brother killed – she didn’t take that too well. You see, there are a myriad of reasons why they can’t get together. Personally, I feel that giving the shrill and irrational one a love interest while LYZ is left hanging high and dry is a bit unfair of Mr. Jing Yong. However, the screenwriters know best and we have our obligatory “Why these two characters can never get together, no way, not in a hundred years, cross our hearts and hope to die” scenes.
    Although I am still not sure why the Zhou patriarch sees fit to silence his rather strident daughter only AFTER she has made her absurd and unfounded accusations. I don’t have much love for those RFS-ers myself, but even I can tell an illogical argument when I hear one.
    However, I approve of most of XTH’s one liners. They bring a smile to my face.
    Also, I approve of the Ninth Brother. His presence brings a smile to my face.

    And XTH’s “lu lu” (course by land) just cracked me up. I heart Chinese for its random homonyms.

    Requisite ZZZ interval
    Ah, ZZZ and his ominous soundtrack. There’s really nothing to say about this interlude, but I feel obligated to report every time he shows up in this series.
    Also, I have always wondered how Guo Liang got into playing these Manchu warriors (Here and in Ji Xiang Ru Yi as well). Did someone exclaim one day “Hey, we need a brutal and heartless villain who does a whole lot of fighting and rides horse all day, let’s get cast this Singaporean compere with the nice guy persona.” Not that I’m complaining, mind you…

    The Blind Leading the Blind
    Why I love XTH:

    And

    Also, CJL is really smart here to partition out the weak/prone to outbursts section of the RFS (LB, ZQ, Zhou Patriarch) from the strong/more apt to get stuff done (Everyone else) part. However, I don’t understand why he feels it necessary to send his “Wu ZhuGe” along as babysitter. Because last time I read Romance of the Three Kingdoms, ZhuGe Liang as Liu Bei’s chief advisor was actually, you know, advising Lui Bei instead of playing nursemaid to the undesirables.
    At this point, I am actually too much occupied in plugging up my ears at the advent of ZQ’s voice to pay much attention to the “cute” banter that is going onscreen. The interaction between ZQ and XTH is not really doing it for me as it is too one-sided. A good repartee implies a relationship of equals who are both likely to gain the one-upmanship on the other (see LYZ and YYT). With ZQ and XTH, their interaction reinforces the point that yes, he is cunning and smart and okay she is naïve and stupid, but so what? Most of their conversations fall flatter than the state of Kansas (which has been mathematically proven to be flatter than a pancake, incidentally).
    Speaking as one who has spent a fair amount of time backpacking, I am highly concerned about this practice of sleeping outside in one’s everyday clothes with a dearth of covering or padding. Even in the middle of the summer, nights can get very cold unless one is on a tropical island somewhere. Also, the vast amounts of alcohol imbibed before sleeping would only cool down their blood. Thus, I was highly surprised to see all of them making it through the night alive, though with the RFS’s common sense skills, a thing like this ceases to surprise me.

    Foolproof Plan to Save WTL #1
    RFS decides to block the narrow mountainous pass that ZZZ needs to take to get into the capital (Seems to be an awful lot of these in this part of the series, IMHO), thus forcing him to stay the night at the nearby village. Then they will be ready for him the next day and ambush his party with greater numbers, thereby capturing the prison cart and saving WTL once and for all!

    LB Is Loyal, And Pouty
    Since her husband, soul mate, and life partner is in the nefarious clutches of ZZZ (nudge nudge wink wink), LB must make some effort to save him. She does, sneaking out in the middle of the night to catch up with the main, viable, group of RFS-ers. However, she fails to take into consideration that horses are organic creatures and thus liable to drop dead from sheer exhaustion. There’s one girl who hasn’t read her Black Beauty.
    But she steals a horse, which is okay because she threw the owner a bag o’ gold and also because she’s a good guy (girl). I was then highly disappointed in the horse when it neglected to run over CJL’s pageboy when it had the chance.

    Foolproof Plan to Save WTL #1 Fails
    Um, RFS-ers, you have been paying attention to the plot of this thing, have you not? You do realize that there is ONE main villain chasing after you for these past 12 episodes who has generally established himself to be the antagonist of this drama. You also do realize that the Qing Dynasty does not appear to have any other competent officers or soldiers. In their employ. Thus, when there is a totally random personage escorting “WTL’s cart”, you should realize that something is up, right? I mean, as the cream of the crop of the RFS, you were just playing along in pretending to fall for this laughably simple ploy right? Right?
    Also, you guys got off easy because I believe ZZZ is a softie at heart. After all, he could have stuffed the cart full of explosives and then where would you guys be?

    ZQ Shoots Off A Zinger, Which Merits Its Own Header
    This is too good to paraphrase, so here is the (hopefully) idiomatic yet direct translation.
    After hearing about the debacle that was the rescue,
    XTH: This is unacceptable! ZZZ, that SOB, is much too underhanded.
    ZQ: Oh really? It is devious for other people to use stratagems, but clever for you to use them?
    Hee hee hee. Well said ZQ, well said.

    YYT Angsting Interlude
    YYT wants LB. LB wants her husband. Thus, conflict arises.
    But you have to feel sorry for this:


    Can’t We All Just Get Along? Manifestly Not
    So the guy whose horse LB stole comes back and he’s meaner than ever. Well, not really, though he is suitably upset about the whole grand theft equestrian business a whiles back. More telling, though, is the revelation that his older brother died in searching for the Chen family’s son, which they apparently did a lost and found thing on. LYZ’s master then owns up to killing said older brother, but since the brother was morally corrupt and the master a good guy to boot, the murder was a-okay justified. Anyways people fight and CJL intercedes to save the guy and to demonstrate in essence how much of a humane and compassionate guy he is.
    Also, the plot point about the Chen family and their son search seems like it is going to be important as the Third and Seventh brother actually QUESTION CJL about it. Imagine that, questioning the expert leadership and motivations of the Great Head Helmsman. What is the world coming to?
    More random snippets of dialogue that made me chortle:
    CJL: I realize now my destiny is to snatch back the Han empire from those Manchu dogs.
    ZH: Good luck with that then.

    The Goodness That Is ZZZ
    Before I get on topic (HA!), I would like to share two observations I have made about ZZZ.
    1) He changes constantly, though he only about three costumes to change into. Namely, he has a black and red striped outfit, a black and white leopard print/leather lacing ensemble, and a yellow chainmail-esque getup with the removable red cloak. And yes, I do notice. However, I’ll spare you the screenshots.
    2) He tries to pitch his voice lower to sound “older” in certain scenes. But then he seems to forget in other scenes and carries forth in his regular speaking voice. He is so adorable, my little acting neophyte.
    Okay. So the good part to being the highest ranking official present (and taller than everyone else to boot)? It’s ALL your tea! Also, you get to order random extras around. I’m sure Mr. Guo is loving this scene.
    Additionally, the inflections of this scene are just spot on for both actors. It’s just really, really good acting. If anyone wants this clip, and knows a way I can get it to you ('bout 20 MB), just PM me and then we can both share in ZZZ bliss.
    For those less fangirlishly inclined, ZZZ decides to go a la Carrie and pour blood on WTL and then parade him through the streets (Though this is extremely out of character, which finally CJL picks up on). In this way, he hopes to invoke the anger of the RFS and thus force them to be rash and make a mistake. The scary part of this? It almost works.

    More consensus building and we end the episode on YYT looking pensive, which is about all he does these days anyways.

  7. #7
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 14

    The Bickering! I Canna Take No More Sir!
    ZQ tries to comfort LB because her husband has been captured by the Evil Forces (and is probably having a better time with ZZZ to boot). However, possessing a XX chromosome does not necessarily make one the master nurturer. Just look at ZQ, or rather, hide from her screeching voice and bulging eyes. XTH, as per his character, tries to talk some sense at her. Although he does get to make some funny faces, he, not surprisingly, fails miserably in his task. Just forget it dude. Accept the fact that you guys will be falling into bed together at a later juncture and just move on.
    Somewhere in this YYT randomly shows up and walks away. Then he goes in to see (the unconscious) LB and collapses on the chair next to her. You know, the producers really didn’t need to waste money on an actor. They could have just hung a sad, hangdog expression on a scarecrow and pushed it around the set. Would have worked just as well.

    My Favorite Masochist
    YYT, as has been established before, is sad. Thus, he feels the need to cut himself after writing some depressing poetry. I would also recommend him get himself a deadjournal. In any case, he looks sad. I would feel worse for him if not for the splitting headache from the frying pan of Unrequited Love and the cement block of Angst that the screenwriters just smashed on my head.
    Also, it is interesting to note that YYT has the ability to not only fly, but also to hover in midair and then execute a sharp 180 turn. While hacking at a big block of rock. While defying the laws of physics. While carrying the unspeakable heartache of forbidden love. While spinning four plates, and a tiny brown dog. On his head.
    Apparently the chemical properties of alcohol do not affect our dear YYT. Because when I get alcohol into my eyes, it sure as heck burns.

    UST Is The Way To Be
    LB can’t sleep. Because she is missing the sweet, sweet WTL loving. So she decides to disobey orders (again) and rush into the Evil Complex to save her beloved. And who should she meet whilst embarking on her clandestine adventure but YYT, come back from hacking at his forearm.
    It’s a generally awkward scene. She’s miserable. He’s miserable. Even the lanterns and the trees look miserable from the outpouring of their combined misery. Lots of sadness, lots of guilt. Lots of faraway looks are employed. Lots of slow, dramatic monologues are dutifully recited.
    So then she tries to get past him on her way to throw her life away. He restrains her. They fight, and then YYT decides to do the noble thing and throw his miserable life away in place of hers. She does not try to stop him. They’re like the French, these two. They manage to carry out the most absurd, irrational, and improbable plan step by arduous step until the inevitably bad conclusion.

    The Fight Between The One-Eyed And The Blind
    This heading originally referred to the Russians and the Ottomans in the Crimean War. However, it can be used equally well to express the level of ineptitude shown in this, the first hush-hush operation to save WTL.
    YYT infiltrates the Top Secret Complex. He immediately gets tailed by his very own security decal. However, this group of Qing soldiers still allows him to progress far enough into their base to reach the room where ZZZ is “questioning” WTL
    On a separate note, YYT doesn’t seem to be the only masochist among the group. ZZZ seems to derive great pleasure from exhorting WTL to insult himself. They have a very odd relationship, those two.
    Back to our Secret Agent Man. YYT uses his flute to shoot a hidden dart at one of the Qing soldiers. However, if there was a dart concealed within his flute, how does YYT manage to play the thing? And if YYT can use his flute to propel things into rooms, why not fill the room with something useful, like sleeping gas? In any case, the dart gets shot and YYT gets to, once again, dramatically kick back a set of double doors. He frees WTL and they fight the cannon fodder Qing soldiers littering the room.
    All the while, ZZZ, great hope of the Qing Dynasty, is sitting in his seat and watching his soldiers get killed and his prisoners escape. Seriously, Zhang DaYen, we need to have a talk.
    Apparently YYT also thinks that holding a random Qing stunt double hostage will propagate his escape. This assumes, of course, that ZZZ gives a damn about his soldiers. Ah, the innocent assumptions of the young and stupid.
    So then YYT and WTL find themselves in the midst of an even larger mob of random Qing soldiers called up by ZZZ. They fight. It’s not so much that these guys are really, spectacularly good at wushu, it’s just that they are fighting the foot soldiers and one lesser lackey while ZZZ stands aside and, you guessed it, watches. Basically, this is how all RFS/Qing Dynasty fights go. However, ZZZ does defend himself from his attack-happy quasi-nephew (who looks to be the same age, IMHO). Well, it’s comforting at least that he still has a sense of self-preservation if not a sense of propriety.
    WTL, based on his superior flying and fighting skillz, gets as far as the roof of the front gate. YYT, to let him get away, repeatedly distracts ZZZ by attacking him and generally getting beaten up quite soundly. Ironically and rather counter intuitively, the sight of a dying YYT incites WTL to jump BACK into the fray and give himself up to ZZZ to save his younger brother.
    So ZZZ now has two RFS captives instead of one. Maybe he isn’t as slow as he seems.
    On the other hand, WTL and especially YYT blundered badly. With YYT and WTL’s flying skills in addition to ZZZ’s reluctance to do his job, they could have very well just kicked a few soldiers around and flown the coop. I mean, the soldiers didn’t have flaming arrows or anything like that as they are saving them for later. And even if ZZZ followed them, they could have lured him back to their Secret Base (which isn’t very secret to begin with) and let loose the other members of the RFS on him. I think these guys often forget that they have THIRTEEN to FIFTEEN decent fighters as opposed to the solitary ZZZ.
    It is funny to consider that out of the myriad of ploys and strategies that the RFS will use to get WTL out in the next few episodes, the one that comes the closest to completion is one guy (and not even their strongest fighter) rushing the complex and fighting off the guards. Even if there had been one or two more RFS-ers with YYT, his plan would have flat out succeeded. And yet, the screenwriters find this need to bludgeon reason at every opportunity.

    Meanwhile…
    Meanwhile the good guys are all in a tizzy about YYT’s spontaneous act of saving WTL. They basically stand around their Secret Base and berate one another for failing to restrain YYT from going to his death. Considering the fact that the location of the Top Secret Base seems to be not too hard to ferret out, why couldn’t the excess RFS-ers just rush to YYT’s rescue instead of standing around and laying imagined guilt on themselves? And I thought that supporting your brother was a main tenet of the RFS.
    After the meeting disperses, CJL finds LB crying behind a barrel and comforts her. He is surprisingly good at it. Probably because he has to do a lot of comforting and explaining to people he’s disappointed due to his inferior leadership.
    Seriously. As a leader, CJL is definitely lacking. Sure, YYT’s overly simple and brawny plan of action wouldn’t be what his delicate and sublime mind would prefer, but the simple truth is that one of his men is on a virtual suicide mission. As leader and older brother to boot, he should really support his people in their endeavors. If he did not want to further YYT’s harebrained plan, the least he could have done is to delegate people to watch YYT’s back in case of trouble. After all, there is always time for a talking to after you have the guy safe and sound in your own territory.

    Two For The Price Of One
    YYT and WTL are now BOTH gravely injured and rotting in prison. YYT wants to confess to WTL his sins in lusting after LB, but WTL points out, quite sensibly, that YYT has already shown by his self-sacrificing attempt to save him that he is a good brother. I like that WTL, he has a good head on his shoulders and really fine wushu skills. However, due to the fact that he was not born younger brother to the emperor, he is not deemed the right man to lead to RFS. So in addition to advocating racial warfare, this series also unequivocally proves the importance of birth over merit.
    Also, have I expressed how much I adore ZZZ lately? Well I do, and it’s scenes like this that reaffirm my love. So in addition to his sheer presence making me smile from ear to ear, I really like the way he handles himself. WTL calls him a “dog” of the Qing Dynasty. Instead of losing it like many other antagonists, he instead replies calmly and lucidly. He says that he does not consider faithfully serving and assisting a good emperor degrading. He also says he does not require the approval of the RFS and furthermore doesn’t need them to understand his motivations.

    Completely gratuitous screenshot because I’m writing this thing. His composure and demeanor are both impeccable. And the snide comments just make me happy.

    After 14 Episodes, The Emperor Commeth
    So QL is finally in the building. I actually enjoy him right now. He is very sure of himself, which one cannot say of CJL with whom he is obviously supposed to stand in contrast. He talks with WTL, figures out he knows everything about his Deep Dark Secret and has a bang-up contingency plan as well. Basically, if both the former Head Helmsman (Zhang Tie Ling) and WTL both die, a “good friend” will let the cat out of the bag for good. However, QL still has ways of containing WTL without killing him. Overall, I just had a lot of respect for both characters after this exchange. Both are solid, intelligent, reasonable guys, which I like.
    I guess one reason QL can seem such a confident theorist and strategist is because he has competent lackeys who can and will carry out his visions and fill in the details. Contrast this with CJL who has people constantly going over his authority and not doing a very good job of following instructions even when they do decide to heed them. The RFS, then, highlights perfectly one problem of rebel groups. Rebels are by nature free-thinkers and nonconformists. This makes asking them to take instructions infinitely more difficult.
    And since QL is the emperor, it is now all HIS tea!

    The Ants Go Marching One By One Hurrah, Hurrah
    Apparently, some characters in this show (And you know who you are…) have no concept of lateral vision. Also no concept of looking behind either. Pity that.
    Also, what’s the point of differentiating between the two groups of Qing soldiers if they’re all going to die anyways?

    I’m Fricking Psychic
    CJL, CJL, CJL. What can I say? When your enemy, extravagantly and inexplicably orders a party halt on an open field, why do you assume that everything is fine? I mean, you have been dealing with ZZZ for at least ten episodes now. You know that he is cautious, if not particularly motivated. I know that you want to save your brethren, but getting everyone blown up is not the way.
    Personally, I think CJL might have been affected by the way everyone looked at him and expected him to approve their brilliant ambush strategy. Peer pressure, after all, is very powerful, especially considering the fact that everyone was so keyed up to save their brothers. It was a mistake on CJL’s part if he did not realize anything was off. But if he went along with the plan even with misgivings because he did not want to disappoint his followers, then that would mark a deep and pretty disturbing flaw in his leadership.

    She’s Back
    LYZ, by her sheer presence, makes this series better. It is startling how much so. So she leans on one of her father’s friends/underlings to let her see YYT. This girl is a brilliant conversationalist because she reads people very well and tells them what they want to hear. She is cute and perky, but not grating. I am still trying to figure out how she manages that one. Above all though, she is very witty and very quick on the uptake. I therefore approve of her very much.
    Of course I will have to detest her later for trying to kill ZZZ and generally not pairing up with him, but for now, we can still be friends.

    YYT is Stupid
    Right. So LYZ goes into YYT’s cell to take care of him. She manipulates the officer (brilliantly, I might add) to give better food and care to her crush. He is suitably grateful yet oddly unaffected by the presence of an intelligent, beautiful girl who obviously cares for him. Then again, he is masochistic, so maybe he just likes to taste the bitter flow of rejection as opposed to the sweet, sweet ambrosia of young love.

  8. #8
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 15

    The Night YYT Spent In Prison
    YYT has managed to put himself in prison. I swear that the case for masochism grows stronger and stronger every episode. He also feels that the RFS-ers weren’t getting enough of a challenge only saving one captured brother. So now he is under the (actually not-so-watchful) eye of ZZZ as well.
    Pity the hours of makeup Mr. Tse had to undergo to get that perfect “Just beaten within an inch of his life” look. However, it is hard to imagine how someone who was repeatedly stabbed and cut by Qing officers the night before could not only stand and speak so lucidly, but could also lie down for such long stretches of time. Must be another one of YYT’s secret powers in addition to possessing the ability to make random female extras fall in love with him.
    LYZ is with him as well because, you know, she sorta has this thing for him. So he angsts, she tries to take care of him, and then he plays the invalid angle to get her to scout out WTL’s condition for him. Which she does, obviously, because of that thing we talked about earlier. You know, maybe if I don’t refer to it by name, they’ll just get over it quickly and LYZ can move on.
    For I really like LYZ. Unlike some others in the show, I respect the sentiments issuing from her mouth as those which a normal, rational, competent human being would say. I can always postulate at, even if I don’t agree with her motivations and actions. That being said, LYZ, even if you figure out what’s happening to WTL, YYT won’t stop being sad. I personally just think his face is broken.

    Back At The Ranch
    Although they are rebels, please don’t think of the RFS-ers as some gang of uncouth, savage bandits. Watch as they exchange smart repartees among themselves. Marvel at them partaking in that most elegant and sublime of pursuits – Go. Truly, they are all gentleman of honor. But who is this? Why, ‘tis their leader, the talented scholar/warrior CJL. Bearing bountiful fruits and magnificent pieces of artwork, I see. But now some less elevated segments of the group cannot fathom the grand and enigmatic strategy CJL has for his seemingly mundane purchases. And they have the gall to walk off. After all, telling his top-secret and oh-do-wonderful plan at this point to the men and woman who have followed him into and out of death would just be so gauche, don’t you know?
    A line of dialogue that really struck me.
    CJL (referring to his brilliant yet secret plan): It seems as if nothing can be put past our Martial Zhuge.
    But dude, he’s your chief advisor. Why would you want to or need to hide anything from him? The whole point of having people to bounce ideas off of is so that you can bounce and thus by definition share your ideas. CJL obviously has a few things to learn about leadership.
    Anyone else find it funny that they always talk about saving WTL, never breaking out both WTL AND YYT. Yeah, I thought so.

    What I Hate About Loving Supporting Players
    If anyone doesn’t know by now, I go through the episode and clip whenever ZZZ comes up. This is one reason why the segments with ZZZ in it are more thoroughly covered in my posts – because I rewatch those scenes rather than just fast forward through them to get the gist.
    Thus scenes like this kinda irk me. He’s in it, but I have this other dude (the emperor, if you’re wondering) as well. You say you don’t want a QL monologue in your clip – too bad. Oh and they’re talking about how to deal with CJL if you are so concerned. The usual villain “let’s mess around with the hero a bit before delivering our final blow” type of thing.
    A mistake that QL, as well as his two henchman make time and time again is that more Qing soldiers will make a difference in the fighting. From what we’ve seen so far and will see, whether you have one Qing soldier or one thousand seems not to matter in the long run. Eventually, the hero will just burn through all of them, completely fresh and unwearied in spite of his previous efforts, and force a duel with the main bad guy. Who will lose, of course. At this point, please also refer back to the header of this section.

    Behold the Power of Omniscience
    You know, the characters would all have a better time of it all if they could watch this series beforehand. Seriously, just rent it from their neighborhood video store and just focus on the parts that apply to them. Thus, YYT will realize that LB is NEVER GOING to leave her husband for him. LYZ will likewise realize that YYT is in love with another woman and otherwise direct her attentions.
    Another reason I like LYZ is because she actually questions herself. She (finally) asks herself why she is being so good to YYT. Although her wild fluctuations through the street and repetition of said question in broad daylight may strike the good folk of that village as certifiable, she does seem to come up with an acceptable answer by the time of her fade-out.

    Consensus Building
    Since the RFS is keeping such good tabs on the Qing entourage (and vice versa, might I add), they know that something is up when WTL is not being publicly paraded through the streets or brought out of the city. They figure out that something must be up, which you can basically assume anyways because the Qing fellowship is, after all, the bad guys. Finally, they decide (or rather, CJL decides) that the RFS needs to wait and lay low to formulate the Grand Plan for Ultimate Success. LB here breaks in with her belief that WTL wouldn’t want his brothers to get hurt or captured on his account. Passing over the obvious irony of that sentiment, that is a pretty sound point. Let’s assume the Qing manage to capture one of the RFS-ers every episode or two. Even if the RFS has about fifteen named members to it, this series is forty episodes long. You do the math.

    Empathetically Not Iron Chef
    LB goes to cook for the guys because, as you should have figured out by now, she is a girl. But her dishes taste terrible. The RFS-ers plan to eat with gusto anyways to make her feel better. Pity no one told ZQ. Seriously, that girl needs a muzzle on her. Wonder where you would be able to get a human-sized on in the Qing Dynasty?
    Anyways, CJL appears to do damage control. However, if he didn’t vacillate so much, they probably would have gotten WTL out by now. But we won’t talk about that.
    Then LB sits down to her dishes and even she thinks they are bad. Ha, ha, isn’t that funny? Because, like, she’s a girls and she can’t cook. Oh those wacky Qing people.

    Quasi-Interlude
    LYZ, let’s just go find ZZZ if you are so adamant in seeing WTL and reassuring YYT. We know that’s what all this is building up to. Besides, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
    Note the lack of a gratuitous screenshot. I am getting better, honest I am.

    The Meeting
    If I was of the reductive school of writing, I could just put down that “CJL and QL meet” under this heading and leave it at that. From what you no doubt know about CJL, and QL, and their relationships and links, you probably have a good idea what these minutes consisted of. But since I am not (page count on this word document already up to 18 and I’m not halfway through yet), here you go:
    CJL leads his followers up the conveniently paced local mountain so they can spy on the base their enemies have established inside the local “Ya Men”. Because nothing tells you more about your enemy than their choice of roofing material.
    And how does the famed Martial Zhuge figure out what his boss is thinking? By believing in the goodness and goal-orientation of CJL of course. For his troubles, he gets to go off and babysit the Zhous. Sometimes I wonder why XTH bothers.
    After a while, CJL catches sight of some highly skilled (he tells from their stride because that’s what skilled wushu practitioners can do. Go to this comic by Tang for a graphic representation) yet strangely servile men up the mountain till he gets to…beautiful qin music.
    At first CJL gets blocked by QL’s henchman (ZZZ not included because that would just be too funny and QL is going “incognito”). Even though his master is obviously waiting for this guy to disturb him, the bigger lackey puts on his indignant demeanor in dealing with CJL and his pageboy. He also, sadly, overlooks a prime opportunity to kill said pageboy for insolence. But the seeds of hate are there which does reassure me a bit.
    So the two main characters finally meet. There is a period of spastic camera panning between the two’s “intense” faces as the music lathers itself into a frenzy in the background. Finally, QL introduces himself as “Dong Fang Er” and CJL makes up the brilliant pseudonym of “Lu Jia Chen” Sometimes, I don’t think he is trying anymore.
    CJL and QL talk. The subtext machine works overtime and then some because both obviously realize who the other is. Fake smiles and pointed statements are exchanged under the thin veneer of civility. And throughout it all the two are just really smug. Even when CJL’s fingers are blatantly not moving in time to the prerecorded qin music which he is supposed to be playing, he looks oh so pleased with himself..
    So QL and CJL have THE conversation. You know, the ”the Qing Dynasty does good by the masses and the emperor tries his best, no it/he doesn’t” difference of opinions that one has come to expect from any meeting of a RFS-er and a Qing cohort. Refer to earlier posts for my personal opinion on this issue. But I think it’s funny that QL almost gets CJL to admit to high treason. Good debating skills, that boy.
    Finally, at the end of this, the first of no doubt many such exchanges, QL asks for and received CJL’s fan in exchange for his gold encrusted ancient qin. Well, now we know why the Manchus place so much emphasis on fighting. Because they sure as heck wouldn’t cut it in business.

    Casing The Joint For Dummies
    Once back at their base, the RFS-ers gawk at the beauty of CJL’s new qin. Thankfully, our Great Helmsman Chen has already figured out that there was something special and different about this “Dong Fang Er.” So he decides to pay him a nocturnal visit, taking ZBS with him for backup. That’s actually convenient because QL is sitting in his chamber with his henchmen apparently waiting for someone to break into his house and assassinate him. So now we know what the Qing cohorts do with their free time.
    And, at the risk of beating this point to death, it is now and will always be QL’s tea.
    Unfortunately, a (cross-dressing) black shadow has the same idea. The RFS-ers save him (her) because they are nice like that.
    QL finds this amusing as he believes this a show of courage by the RFS. Thus, he tells his soldiers to stop fighting with CJL and company. There is an absolutely civil exchange between QL’s henchman and CJL concerning CJL’s visiting when “Dong Fang Er” is out and CJL rescheduling which is slightly surreal considering the context.
    To QL as well, if any sort of rabble (RFS and not) can just waltz into your “heavily protected” inner sanctum, it doesn’t speak to the skill and bravery of your attackers as much as reflect on the ineptitude of your security system. ZBS’s wugong is really elite, but LYZ can’t be considered the best fighter in this series. Even she manages to circumvent the insane number of soldiers you brought in to protect yourself. Once again, why is there such an absolute dearth of competent (i.e. non-cannon fodder) fighters? Is the Qing Dynasty skimping on medical insurance or what’s going on?
    Finally we get some heavy-handed foreshadowing of QL’s interest in ZBS. ZZZ and the other henchman look slightly aghast at the idea of being replaced. Also, at the idea of having to take another hostage instead of just wiping everyone out like real men do.

    CJL’s Fan of Righteousness
    As a tangent, I would like to touch on CJL’s weapon of choice – a fan. His uber martial arts skills aside, a typical fan has a range of about a foot, to be generous. Contrast this with the guys using swords and poles with ranges up to 6 feet and more. Also, fans don’t have sharp edges. Although this helps CJL not injure himself, it doesn’t scare people as much when you hold the blunt edge to their jugulars.

    Bad At Planning, But Good At Brainteasers
    It’s okay XTH, even if CJL doesn’t value your work, you can always prove your intellectual superiority by solving ZQ’s (plagiarized) brainteasers. It’s actually pretty clever in that lateral thinking kind of way. If anyone wants to know the details, feel free to PM me. Admittedly, XTH does tell ZQ that real intelligence is not in these small tricks. His point is a bit weakened, though, when he then proceeds to dupe ZQ with another one of these “insignificant” quasi-lateral thinking problems (The wine cup one).
    Aside from the XTH/ZQ interaction in this scene, I thought it was interesting to note how close ZQ has gotten to the Ninth Brother (the cute one). He treats her well and is very accommodating. As well, he tries to help her become more intelligent, quite an ambitious effort on his part. Might I sense another nascent love triangle?

    The Rebels Of The Not-So-Round Table
    I’m sick of recapping these RFS planning sessions. They have a meeting. Anyone who has had any contact with the corporate world knows the substance of such things. Anyways, it is decided (coughcough CJL decides coughcough) to save the two captives by stratagem rather than by force (why, I’m still not sure) and to wait until the enemy starts moving. The paintings that CJL bought yesterday just happen to piece together to form a detailed map of the area. Apparently, there is a mountain pass nearby that is appropriately shazxardous and on the road to Beijing. Got that? Good, I’m done.

    Let’s Make Fun of the Dumb One!
    Okay. I’m not the biggest fan of ZQ, but even I think this is going overboard. So XTH plays another trick on her to deceive her with his finer intellect. When the rest of the RFS-ers find out, they laugh at her ignorance and carelessly toss off solutions to the problem that she had so diligently labored on for so long. Cut her some slack - not everyone can be as skilled and gifted as you. This reminds me of when Virginia Woolf in “A Room of One’s Own” makes the point that men put women down in order to make themselves feel superior. Come on guys, be part of the solution, not the problem.
    So then when ZQ runs off to go wallow in (loud, screeching) self-pity, I actually feel for her. But then the series introduces XTH peeking in on her and overhearing ZQ cursing his future wife and sons (ironic foreshadowing alert) and the whole thing turns comic. Because they’re the comedic relief, dontcha know?
    Eventually, ZQ gets mad enough to pick up a quite large boulder and chuck it. I know exactly how you feel. However, if just happens to land near XTH and to get her back, he decides to pretend it had hit and killed him. I bet the real Zhuge Liang wasn’t so petty. But ZQ, being what she is, really thinks XTH is dead when he finds his ”corpse”.
    Sigh. Sometimes, I really hate this series.

  9. #9
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 16

    Romantic Force Too Great…Cannot Resist…
    This scene is insanely cute, cripplingly romantic, and just overwhelmingly sweet. Nothing snarky can be said. However, some LYZ/YYT shippers may just drop die of a glucose overdose. There is just something about a girl pining for her incarcerated lover who is reciprocating the good-will by performing a mellifluous woodwind tune for her. Even though he is inside the (minimum security) prison and she is on top of it, the song, and thus their love, knows no boundaries.
    Finally, there is this really adorable ginger kitten which augments the general cuddliness of this scene. Sun Li also holds her own pretty well in the “cute” category.

    So My Daughter Just Ran Away From Home. How Bout Them Dolphins?
    Apparently, no one cares about ZQ. She has not come home for a whole night and her dad basically shrugs it off. Once again, I am surprised at how these Jiang Hu figures manage to rear their progeny to adulthood. Its way past ten o’clock and the Zhou patriarch definitely doesn’t know where his daughter is. Even if he can rationalize her disappearance, shouldn’t he be a little more concerned about her general welfare. Considering also that he killed his son not so many episodes previously, he should probably pay a little more attention to his only surviving child.
    Of course, XTH, with his immense intellect and knowledge of what transpired last night must have some inkling of the emotional damage he has wrought on such a young and naive girl’s psyche. Or not.

    If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood.
    The RFS-ers, in their newest ploy to outwit the Qing Dynasty, decide to convince the reinforcements (all twenty of them) that there are ghosts running around so that the soldiers would become scared and desert. Given the ingrained cultural convictions of the Chinese people and the propensity to believe in the supernatural, I would say this is one of the smarter things they have come up with. But then again, this stratagem (falsely) assumes that reinforcements make any sort of difference fighting-wise.
    It all plays out pretty well. They drill holes in the trees to create spooky sound effects when the obliging wind blows through the branches. Then, they plant one of the RFS-ers (since they’ve got so many of them anyways) as a local old geezer explaining how a virulent plague a couple hundred years ago carried away a lot of villagers who have then decided to come back and haunt their final resting place. Lots of extras look suitably spooked.
    By the way, the Qing uniforms are kick-***. Cut well and colorful, without sacrificing that special “I am MAN” flavor. I approve.

    Obstipesco Interlude
    Random Qing Officer (RQO) finally makes it into the city. He meets with ZZZ, who might or might not have actually smiled at some point in this scene. I’m still trying to figure it out. Anyways, he is pleased that RQO got all his troops to this village in the middle or nowhere in such a speedy fashion. Instead of, you know, lolly-dallying and having Zhang DaYen chop your head off if and when he gets angry.
    ZZZ, as always, is concerned with the rebels. RQO is more upset about the ghosts haunting his troops. ZZZ is distinctly not amused and takes it out on a nearby table. He then tells RQO that there will be no disobedience or insubordination among HIS troops. All cowards will get killed on the spot as a testimony to Qing might and irrationality.
    This whole exchange shows us that ZZZ obviously has control issues he needs to work out. But he is so darned sexy when he is In Charge…and he’s always In Charge.

    Who You Gonna Call?
    In the Qing camp, they’ve managed to find a soldier whose previous career was as an exorcist. He does the whole thing with the paper and the sword and the dancing around that is supposed to scare ghosts away. Well, I don’t see any ghosts around, so I guess he did a good job. However, since his little dance isn’t effective against those RFS-ers, one comes and snatches a soldier off.
    Segue to ZQ getting/already drunk off her posterior in an unnamed little shop. The clerk is trying to get her to leave, but since she has the sharp pointy object in her unsteady hands, he doesn’t press his point very much. ZQ, inebriated as she is, does bring up the good point that if her father killed her brother for revealing the location of WTL (a virtual stranger), he must be preparing to kill her as retribution for causing the death of XTH (by now a good friend). She decides that an honorable seppuku would be a better way to go than to be murdered by your own father. In the meantime, the quirky, plunky, “humorous” music is playing in the background because, after all, there is nothing funnier than senseless death
    Just then, due to divine intervention and a dearth of competition in the food and beverages industry, RQO steps into the door leading two of his henchmen. The clerk tries to tell them that they are closed (guan meng), but the RQO rightly observes that the shop’s doors are still literally opened (cai meng). And who should stumble in onto this cozy meeting but the now entirely drunk ZQ. She overhears their dialogue (or read it from the shooting script beforehand) and offers to beat up the ghosts plaguing their camp.
    Segue to the army camp. The RFS-ers in white robes, undone hair, and bad eye makeup are going around scaring the living daylights out of the easily susceptible soldiers. Come on guys, they aren’t THAT bad looking. ZQ plunges headlong into this mess. The RFS boys are suitably alarmed because they seem to be unarmed and she is flailing a rather pointed blade around. To make matters worse, she falls right into the face of XTH, whom she thinks is dead and really a ghost. Thus she runs screaming away right into…
    The wine shop. The RQO and gang, seeing ZQ so shaken and incoherent (as opposed to just drunk and incoherent), decide there really are ghosts in the forests. One henchman wants to just get out as soon as possible. Do I sense a RFS plot coming to fruition? But then the RQO points out that they really need to get ZZZ to believe in ghosts as well for them to be able to just up and leave. Oh well, better luck next time RFS boys.
    There is a short intermission in here to show ZQ burning paper money for XTH and generally babbling in a generally endearing way. No really. I am starting to warm towards her, especially since it is clear this series hates her. Shortly, XTH comes up and his presence scares her because she thinks he is dead. Anyways, this is all very funny because they are the comic relief.

    GHOSTBUSTERS
    Or rather, ZZZ. Because he comes upon the tattered and inexplicably burning army camp with a very fixed WTF expression on his face. Peeved by the display of mindless incompetence around him, and lacking a convenient piece of furniture to take his anger out, he instead kills one of the soldiers who has had the bad fortune to stagger near him. It is a testament to the intelligence level of your average Qing soldier that it takes the third body for them to figure out that whining to Zhang DaYen about ghosts (or anything else for that matter) is a very bad idea. And once again, (extremely forced) order falls on the Qing camp.
    And the way I reckon it, if the series hadn’t wanted me to fall in love with ZZZ, they wouldn’t have given the man so many damn close-ups. Seriously, I don’t see how it’s my fault at all.
    Oh, and LYZ sneaks into the camp and pulls the uniform off a dead solider. Although there only appear to have been a handful of soldiers, no one notices this new face. As we have covered before, your average Qing soldier is as observant as, well, your average RFS-er.

    Like Kicking A Puppy, Repeatedly, With Steel-Toed Boots
    ZQ wakes up in the RFS camp. Ostensibly, LB came upon her in the woods on another one of her nightly jaunts through the forest. In any case, ZQ lathers herself into a frenzy about killing XTH and the perceived consequences. Due to the nature of Chinese customs, ZQ never explains to LB why exactly she is so worked up and so LB never has the occasion to tell ZQ that XTH is, in fact, very much alive.
    What then transpires is, IMHO a really awful exercise in sadism. Basically, the Zhou patriarch, the pageboy and CJL respond as if she has killed XTH and demand retribution. ZQ acts nobly, in that she recommends death for her actions and begs them not connect her father with her “sin”. CJL finally tells them to cut it out, which earns him brownie points in my book. To be fair, LB also looks vaguely uncomfortable throughout the proceedings.
    So after making the poor girl cry for her crime and making sure she has learned her lesson (of what exactly, I’m not sure. Maybe not to throw rocks around? Or is it not to trust the RFS), they bring out XTH who disparages her intelligence in believing him to be dead.
    But then it turns out that ZZZ has moved a large part (about 12) of the reinforcement soldiers away, basically because the officers under him are all pansies. ZQ’s drunken tirade also helped. Everything is then dully forgotten as the music swells to the triumphant fade out.

    Oh Yeah, I Was Wondering Why You Were In The Credits
    As the screen comes up again, we find ourselves in the Chinese Southwest. Cut to the requisite death and burning destruction set-up. Apparently, the Qing Dynasty has not only been making trouble for the RFS. HQT and her merry band of Muslims have also been targeted. What can I say about the Manchus? Sure they might be racist (in toeing the RFS party line), but at least they’re equal opportunity discriminators.
    HQT fears this may only be the beginning to the Qing aggression. Though to be fair, there isn’t much out there for the Qing’s to covert. I mean, how much desert can one empire really need? In any case, HQT’s trigger-happy brother wants to attack the Qing Dynasty. Her Wise and Thoughtful father urges caution. She, combining the best of both worlds, offers to go on a scouting mission before making any sort of gesture. She makes clear though, that she had the spine necessary to go to war with the Manchus if need be. But she would want that fight to be on her terms. Atta girl.

    ZQ Gets Tricked. No, Really?
    The RFS-ers want to get rid of their slightly overenthusiastic, overgrown bundle of cheeriness. They set up a fake gambling parlor and ply her full of wine until she passes out from it, or has died of alcohol poisoning. Either way, she won’t be following them on their next adventure.
    ZQ-less, the RFS-ers sneak/waltz into the Qing army camp and scare off the entirely too impressionable soldiers with the patented ghost routine. After sneaking into the main armory, they proceed to carry off a vast amount of dynamite. Among the more interesting things that the RFS-ers left in the armory were a brace of cannons and sets of wicked looking armor. If nothing else, I commend this series for its sense of continuity.
    RFS-ers come back from their romp. ZQ wakes up and is told she has lost a sizable sum of money. Being the honest and gullible girl she is, she ponies up the money and the RFS-ers leave with this filthy lucre.

    Foiled Again
    ZZZ is walking (striding?) with his officers. They discuss how the ghost stories have ravaged morale among the troops. ZZZ is, again, not pleased, but what are you going to do? We all know you are competent (He sees through the RFS tricks and knows exactly what they are after. Than again, the RFS have never been masters of the sublime), but your officers and men are just atrocious. ZZZ also wants his camp guarded so that a single drop of water could not pass.
    That’s actually quite ironic considering the next scene we get is that of LYZ (who is somewhat larger than a drop of water) rendezvousing with her crush. She wants to save him, but he won’t leave without WTL. Like all unrequited loves, she caves and tries to find a way to get WTL out.
    Drawing on that time honored tradition, LYZ decides to set fire to WTL’s tent and thus force them to move him, allowing her to rescue him in the ensuing confusion. Good plan. Pity she hadn’t counted on ZZZ. So he swoops in. Apparently, he is incapable of walking because all his entrances are replete with triple flips and summersaults and all manner of acrobatic goodness. In any case, he forbids anyone to leave, killing two more of his soldiers as proof of his hard-coreness, and then moves to beat up the ringleader, namely LYZ. She is down in a few passes, but her master comes fortuitously and spirits her away. ZZZ, an actuary at heart, decides to move his whole command right then and there.
    I am presently vacillating between giddy excitement and dire fear of a LYZ, ZZZ meeting. On one hand, more screen time for ZZZ is always a good thing. On the other, there’s the whole unrequited love and assassination business.
    Sigh, I can never win.

    She’s Good
    LYZ is with her master in the middle of a forest. I assume it is the same one with the spooky trees. He is berating her for her general impulsiveness and recklessness. She listens patiently, and then manages to convince him that her playing spy from within the ranks of the Qing army would do much to further the cause. Also, she points out, it would be a good learning experience, what with the constant mortal danger and all. She is counting on her Dad’s stolen plaque and her master’s L33T skillz if anything should go wrong. Due to her charms, eloquent arguing and girlish whining, her master agrees, though hesitantly. She, obviously, is thrilled at the prospect of seeing her boyfriend again.

    What Was That Line About The Plans Of Mice And Men Again?
    Okay, new plan. We wait until ZZZ gets to this really steep and treacherous gorge after a night of hard traveling. Therefore, his troops must all be super tired. So we fight our way in, fresh as daisies, and we save WTL and YYT. LYZ, as a spy, is going to help us tons. And this time, everything will go the way we planned. Right guys?

  10. #10
    Senior Member AnalyticChick's Avatar
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    Default Episode 17

    That Girl Is CRAZY
    After the fade in from the (IMHO, really cool) beginning song, we see ZQ…with a spear…waving it about in a menacing manner…preparing to eviscerate the RFS boys. Hold up. I know that I haven’t been paying much attention to you lately, B&S, but isn’t ZQ, a good guy (well, technically girl)?
    So it turns out that ZQ is angry at the FRS-ers, not for belittling her so many times for their own personal enjoyment, but for not planning to take her along on the foolproof and therefore entirely innocuous plan to save WTL. Immediately, she zeros onto XTH and proceeds to scream at him in that oh-so-cute-and-charming way she has of abusing her vocal cords and my ears. XTH, knowing this sure as heck isn’t the good fight, gives out the command that ZQ be allowed to come with them to face certain death.

    It’s Good To Be The Emperor
    Again, lest the point remain unsaid, the tea – it is belonging to QL.
    We open on a calm QL and an apparently agitated lackey. Since this guy is in a surprising lot of this series, I guess I should give him an acronym. I personally refer to him as the henchman who isn’t ZZZ, but we can shorten that to OH for “Other Henchman”.
    So OH, well versed in the fine art of intelligence, knows that the RFS are on the march. From the first scene and the utter lack of subtlety in which the twenty odd RFS members and allies moved out, this tidbit should not have been hard to garner. In any case, QL says he knows already. Whether he REALLY knew beforehand is unimportant. The important part is that he’s the emperor and OH looks suitably impressed and humble at QL’s not quite revelation of his plans. We do know, though, that it has to do with the positioning of Zhou Hwai’s troops. And we know it will be good and devious as QL has his sneaky face on for his close-up.

    Come Play With Us!
    In case there aren’t enough participants in the inevitable fray to take place later in the episode, we get the Muslim band led by HQT creeping around at night. They break into Zhou Hwai’s camp (which looks remarkably like ZZZ’s camp…) and sneak a look at the armory where they find some cool looking, full-body metal armor.
    You know, these rebels don’t have anything on REAL guerilla warriors. After all, both the RFS and HQT’s band have let pass opportunities to destroy their enemy’s main weapon depositories. After some real nice conniving (in the case of the RFS) or sneaking about (in the case of the Muslims), what the good guys have figured out is that the Qing army uses weapons and likes to keep their vital organs protected in battle.

    And So It Begins
    Kay now. The RFS are rolling rocks stuffed with explosives (which they snitched from ZZZ) up a cliff to prepare to ambush the Qing soldiers and save WTL – assuming, of course, that they don’t blow him up first. In any case, we have a quite touching (are there any other kind?) LB interval when a random RFS brother urges her to rest, but she persisting on because she just needs her huggy-bear back so badly.
    So in the midst of this honest labor, we catch sight of the brains of this operation, namely CJL and XTH standing on the bottom of the cliff supervising the action. More specifically, this means that while all the other brothers are grunting and puffing up the cliff with boulders in their arms, CJL is waving his fan about and talking to XTH while his pageboy looks on in rapt admiration. Isn’t it nice to be the management?

    Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting
    The Qing caravan rolls around and once again I am justified in why I watch this series.
    But first we see LYZ, in the guise of a Qing soldier, run off from behind a boulder. Run, Sun Li, run!
    Then we get the obligatory setup of “But Zhang DaRen, the cliffs, they are so steep. Can’t we just give in to reason and…” “Of course not! The emperor ordered us to take this pass. Do you want to go against the emperor’s word?” It amused me to see that throughout this exchange, which takes place on horseback, my favorite Singaporean compere turned villain absolutely CANNOT make his horse stand still. Once again, I wonder why they picked him for the “fighting and horseback riding” role. Probably because his company is putting up the money.
    As the caravan makes its way through the pass, the RFS boulders from the sky drop down. I really don’t understand why the series made such a big deal about the RFS packing the rocks with explosives because the volatile quality of the dynamite is never utilized at all. Instead, they speed up at a nice constant acceleration of 9.81 m/s2 (free fall negating air pressure) to crush whole passels of hapless Qing soldiers.
    ZZZ, surveying the scene, orders his troops to keep on rolling. Does this remind anyone else of the Charge of the Light Brigade? In any case, he has got his soldiers sufficiently scared of him so they follow behind, even though determined looking RFS-ers materialize both in front of and behind the caravan.
    CJL and ZZZ then carry on one of those faux-polite conversations that cultured adversaries exchange before beating the stuffing out of one another. ZZZ, again, looks to be the same age as CJL, if not younger in the cut-away, but what do I know? Finally, in the grand tradition of upper management everywhere, CJL gives the command to “Advance” and ZZZ the command to “Protect the Cart”. So they start to fight, CJL with ZZZ I mean. And in case anyone was still wondering who to root for, CJL is helpfully wearing a suit of pure white while ZZZ has on an outfit of sinister black.
    There is fighting. Swords clank, the RFS-ers look hard-***, lots of stunt people fall. For the sheer fact that LB’s swords DO NOT shoot out colorful bolts of light, I love this series. And it also just looks so darn cool.
    So LB makes her way to one of the carts, breaks the lock to find…YYT! He is, of course, elated. Her face falls faster than stock prices in the Great Crash of ’29. Mumbling a half-hearted exhortation to her comrades, she leaps off in search of her one true heart, leaving YYT to look sad. Luckily, LYZ is here to make him feel better – or not. She tries to “save him”, but skitters when two of the RFS boys swoop in to bust YYT out. Finally, LB finds the right cart and breaks the lock. WTL literally leaps out of his confines and he and his wife have a touching, teary, heartfelt reunion on top of the prison cart in the middle of everyone trying to kill everyone else. Cut to YYT looking sad.
    ZZZ, sensing things aren’t going quite as he had hoped for, makes the tactical decision to take WTL hostage. Okay, considering the RFS’s annoying little habit of nobility, he can probably get away with it. WTL says that death won’t faze him, but then again ZZZ really doesn’t care about that particular opinion at this point. LB, to make matters worse, goes on her knees and vows to follow her husband in death. More insulting ZZZ’s parentage from the RFS peanut gallery. And then ZZZ gets to defend himself by reminding us that he has his own resolutions and loyalties. And how. He moves to kill WTL, but is stopped by CJL’s agreement to let him go in exchange for WTL’s life. No one realizes, or probably only ZZZ does, that his is still the sharp edge to WTL’s jugular. Mass exodus of people creeping to the left of the screen.
    In any case, OH suddenly appears at the cliff top and fires off a flare arrow. From over the horizon comes the cavalry (in reality a bunch of armored up Qing soldiers) to save the day. ZZZ looks vaguely surprised that, hey, the Qing Dynasty really didn’t send him to a senseless death after all. He smirks. I swoon.
    So the RFS-ers, seeing this change in the wheel of fate, revert back to what they do best and start blindly attacking the guys wearing full body armor and carrying really large tower shields. Somewhere in there, LYZ comes in and tries to get YYT to save himself, but because she is not LB, fails. The RFS leaders then engage in a quick conference to affirm that they have in fact been hoodwinked. To set up future plot lines, ZZZ at this point pings XTH with his sewing needles of doom. Also a setter-upper, CJL throws a jade pendant to WTL and tells him a place and a date. Because we still have about 33 episodes of this thing to go, the RFS do not in fact get annihilated at this point, but instead get their hides saved by the Muslim band. Exeunt omnis.
    Also, in case anyone was wondering, and in my most humble and unbiased opinion, ZZZ so rocked that scene. I frankly do not see how other people miss the extreme coolness of ZZZ and of Guo Liang who plays him so well. All my EEE, truly, do belong to thee.

    Cleaning Up Is So Hard To Do
    It is on an unhappy top secret base that we pan into. Everywhere is the sick, wounded, and dying. In the air is the mournful call of the erhu. It is additionally revealed that both YYT and XTH are missing. Looking at the silver lining though, CJL and HQT are once again in the same province.
    Apparently, ZZZ’s sewing needles of doom (which he has hit the tenth brother with, as villains are wont to do) have the ability to plunge into a person’s flesh without breaking the skin. Okay. I’ll buy this. The guys from Wudan, of course, are all about those needles.
    LB, seeing this scene of wreck and ruin for the sake of one man (namely her man) runs outside to feel guilty in peace. CJL comes out to comfort her (something which he should be quite good at by now). This time, HQT comes along as well and between the two of them manage to convince LB that victory will be theirs! Someday.

    The Uses Of A Female Companion
    From the destruction of the battlefield, ZQ rises up. So she managed to survive the onslaught. She goes and finds XTH, who has evidently survived as well. Fancy that. Sensing the arrival of cannon fodder, he tells her to feign death. Obligingly, two Qing soldiers happen along on ZZZ’s command to make sure everyone is truly dead. Instead of just sticking all the corpses with the sharp point of their swords, they instead decide to rely on their infallible sense of “live-dar”. XTH, however, is a bit feistier than most corpses and manages to bash the heads of one soldier when they bend down to check his vital signs. ZQ takes care of the other one. Exhausted from the effort, XTH and ZQ grab the two horses of the recently departed Qing soldiers. Then they ride off into the horizon…together. Now isn’t that sweet?
    For our second vignette, we have LYZ scouring the battlefield for YYT. She finds him, barely alive yet still kicking, and rejoices. He, however, messes up this heartwarming meeting by doggedly asking after WTL. LYZ, denying him nothing, tells him that he has been captured by ZZZ. He wants to go after his Fourth brother immediately, but she suggests that he rest up before preparing to take on ZZZ again. Being too weak to rebuff her, YYT gets led off screen by LYZ.

    XTH and ZQ, Sitting In A Cave
    As the header aptly indicates, XTH and ZQ are in fact sitting, or rather squatting in a rather dank cave. He is sick and feverish from overexposure and those darn sewing needles. There is some nascent sense of concern on her part, which is always good for a romance. Eventually, she agrees to remove the needles from his shoulder, the alternative of course to watching him die. So without disinfection or sanitation, she cuts up XTH’s shoulder to the bone in order to pull out three sewing needles with her unwashed fingers. He passes out shortly thereafter, but manages not to succumb to infection. After all, I’ve always said there was something special about that boy.

    An Effective Meeting. And No, That Isn’t An Oxymoron.
    The Qing cadre debriefs after the quasi-debacle that was the big fight. In contrast to the RFS, QL is clearly in charge and so the meeting progresses at a brisk pace. They concisely pin down why their plans failed and QL is informed of the Muslims’ connections to the RFS. Though both his advisors urge quick, decisive, punitive action, QL thinks it best to focus on one indignant minority at a time. Then OH comes in with the pendant and the note from WTL/CJL inviting QL to come to Hu Nan to view the moonlight on the lake in a month’s time. This move by CJL causes QL to further admire his composure, intelligence, maturity, and general coolness. After all, there’s nothing like the praise of an enemy to establish a hero’s mettle. Finally, over the many worried and downright concerned glances passed between his three lackeys (ZZZ, OH, and ZH – Zhao Hwai), he accepts the summons And that’s that.

    Because It’s My China - All Mine
    QL is speaking to OH, or rather speaking at him. He says that as emperor of all China, he should be able to go anywhere that he pleases, anytime that he pleases. After all, is not all this beautiful land, houses, peoples, horses, and tea his to do with as he wishes? If he let the expectation of certain death faze him, then he would be worse off than a mere Head Helmsman of the RFS. OH still looks unconvinced, but QL says he will be taking ZZZ and ZH, so he should be set. More screen time for ZZZ is also perfectly fine by me.

    CJL Does Stuff
    Yes he does. He paces. He drinks tea (from the same serving that QL uses, incidentally). He gets consoled by his pageboy about working too hard. And he waits. And waits. Luckily, here come some RFS-ers to alleviate his tedium. No one seems to have any news about the missing parties. However, the Muslims and the RFS manage to form an alliance based on the “enemy of my enemy” principle. And the whole vigilant do-gooder attitude as well. Plus, their leaders have the hots for one another.
    So now CJL has moved outside in his general moping and introspection. He writes some calligraphy, really beautifully in fact. Whatever else you can say about CJL, that boy’s got some really fine penmanship. HQT comes out and they have a Tender Moment. She teaches him to write his unhappiness into the dirt so the wind can quickly efface it from ground and heart. Happy things, like YYT’s inexpressible and all-consuming love for LB, should be carved into stone. Significant looks are casually thrown around, smiles are beamed at one another and I think I might have caught a joined hand in there somewhere as they talk about their childhoods. In other words, things are really starting to heat up now.

    XTH Apologizes, ZQ Listens, Pigs Fly
    Basically all you need to know is in the header. This is the slightly tedious, but extremely necessary initial “how their hate turned to love” scene. Because eventually they will be sleeping together if the ending clip is to be trusted. Therefore, it would be best to lay the foundation early.
    The other day, I was listening to my xiang sheng cds and noted a sentiment that I think is particularly apt at this time. So the comedian is complaining about the length of television serials. Apparently, they started out as one episode, then turned into two volumes, and now are spiraling from forty episodes and up. He further comments about how a budding romance might get started in episode one and not get resolved until a hundred episodes later. “In all that time”, he says indignantly “I could have just found a girlfriend myself.” Hehe.

  11. #11
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    Default

    aww... you're not doing the rest of the episodes?

    *looking at the date of the last episode (2 years ago) ... I think it's safe to assume Analytic_Chick won't mind me continuing the eps guide. This way I can ramble about the series w/o feeling like talking to myself cuz at least it's sorta productive

    Episode 18

    Whose crib should we crash at tonight?
    LYZ led YYT to a wealthy man‘s house. She showed the servant the gov’t emblem… and the kid shook in fear letting 2 strangers in (still, I have my doubts that he knows what he was looking at). That’s the servant. As for the owner of the house, I don’t think LYZ ever showed him her father’s ID card. Thus, he lets them stay because they have weapons (one guy carries a flute though) and they can do harm (wait, the guy with the flute is also injured)… security! Cops! Can’t he get any of these?? Oh well, beats me…
    So then YYT asked LYZ to go see LB and assure his ppl that he is safe.
    - So you like your sister?
    - That’s absurd.
    - I’m glad you know.
    - Fine, don’t help me.
    LYZ went to see LB anyway. There’s a bit of curiosity, a bit more of jealousy, and a truckload of submission to YYT’s wants and needs. They fought, LYZ won … you see, it’s pretty easy to set up traps in the woods.

    Back to ZY and XTH… He’s sick; she went to find a doctor for him. Apparently, the only doctor in town didn’t even take the Oath of Hippocrates. Doesn’t matter, threats work equally well when you’re out of money. XTH got back on his two feet and off they went to rejoin the RFS-ers.

    Of course I’d let you stay at my place…
    but you’re still pretty darn suspicious.

    Rich-guy (RG) prepared dinner for YYT and LYZ. He offered LYZ wine and YYT medicine broth. YYT created a diversion and quickly got rid of the liquid. By the time RG turned back, they raised their empty bowl/cup and bid him to drink his as well.
    1. This scene is funny not because it’s creative, but because of the quick action, perky background music, and snickering faces ensued.
    2. This scene demonstrates the first time YYT ever looked out for LYZ (when he insisted he shall take the wine) . It also demonstrates LYZ’s adorably shrewd nature. She,too, looked out for YYT, but instead of taking the questionable broth herself, she has the nerves to tell RG he looks worse-off than her brother, and therefore he should drink if himself.


    So I’ve heard of mirages… and seen a few
    QL, ZZZ, and their little troop went out to the desert. To scout, to stay on vacation, to take over the sand dunes and more, who knows. Lo and behold, an angel is dancing on the plateau. Even though I look like a weakling who didn’t pass PE, I must climb up and up. And a heave, and a ho, and a few more steps. Finally, “Oh Princess of Heaven, who are you?” … wait, “where are you?”
    - Where’s the maiden?
    - Maiden, Sire?
    - The one that was just here.
    - There are only you and I, your Majesty.
    - Are you calling me a lunatic?!
    Oops, that wasn’t in the dialogues. My mistake.

    Yep, you guess right. That is the first appearance of the legendary Princess Fragrance (PF).

    The umm... other couple...
    Somewhere here and there are scenes with CJL and HQT… he nurtures the wish of not bearing responsibilities while she shows stronger perseverance. And if you listen to the opening theme song, the first 2 lines demonstrate their positions quite nicely.
    “You can’t help but shed tears when you love. You can’t help but accept woe when you try to be a hero.”

    Meet the Parents
    LYZ took YYT home with her. I was attacked by bandits, but I have no scratch; my saviour, on the other hand, looks as if he’s been beaten to death. Okay, I’ll take your fib. Nothing’s strange in wulin anyway.
    Last edited by hinako442003; 04-19-06 at 06:55 PM.

  12. #12
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    Wow...never saw someone with a greater passion for this series than you, my friend!

    why did ya stop? I would like to see some more though...anyway, I liked your posts, they were entertaining

  13. #13
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    Heya! Yeah, how about you continue de thread!

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