76 episodes, without any fastforwarding, if this is not love per my habits, I do not know what is.
I have been steadily watching this drama for months, but it’s not since a few weeks ago when I have a chunk of time to do nth but marathon. It’s meticulous in every detail begging savoring for the costume p0rn alone. My mom can rewatch any episode, entranced and shushing me uttering a word. I’m now done and though the latter half has draggy moments and lazier writing, it is still near-perfectly acted. Admittedly I’m not as swept away by its awesome in the later stretch as the better first half, but I now can join the not-hyped up humongous following. It is the hugest hit by a long stretch of the Qing imperial intrigue/conspiracy dramas out last few years involving the same emperor Yongzheng and his doomed brothers, so much so it is now showing at my local channel at last.
BBJX and even Goong may have larger, younger interweb fandoms, but a decade from now, this will be the only one standing the test of time in the long haul Actually while I’m watching, I have not a gripe, not one but feasting on all the details of that world, from how every gesture of the ladies in court is so immaculately gentile and confined pertaining to its time, which is no longer something I can take for granted in a Cperiod these days *sigh*. And the amazing period speak is to lust over!!! It is a rare beast. Shallow asides, there are no faces taunting visible plasticity, no circle lens to sting my eyes in a period when I’m being particularly stringent. *phew* I’m a fangirl of Chen Jian Bin, but I’ll admit his face is of the typical ahjusshi, opposite of flower boy, but there is also his younger brother Prince 17 fulfilling the role of the Pretty. I do not agree from all the articles I’ve read of Li DongXue he’s a Song SeungHun lookalike, argh, he does not have that offputting load of sleaze on screen and he can decently act. He resembles the aura of a young Michael Miu to me actually.
Even the minor characters are so refreshingly pretty! For once I do not have to wonder if my aesthetics is so off kilter
What impress me most are the ladies of course, I’m in my little own squeeing heaven just watching the acting alone (and truly pretty faces), marveling especially at Sun Li and Jiang Xin, in a Cdrama of all things!!! They are all fluid, I have empathy towards all of them, even when they are rotting in the core and will not bat a lash doing bad bad evil baby-killing deeds. I have no favorite character I truly root for though, esp not the protagonist Zhen Huan, Sun Li’s Zhen Huan is unrecognizable at the end to the early ZH I met in the very beginning, really no turning back of the character. While I don’t think she’s my kind of pretty, she is flawlessly gorgeous with the makeup and most loving lighting when it requires to portray her as the convincing beauty. Each of the characters have shades of unsavory, that’s what made them real and me invested.
When I didn’t hesitate my raves towards BuBu’s costumes, I had not seen ZHZ. This is another world of refinery and extravagant befitting the imperial palace a shabby production company that is Tang Ren nowadays, even trying their mightiest, can’t match. The lines are of real conversation I felt of the time, where things are always hinted and implied behind veiled niceties, but the smiles can be subtly telling the true alignment of the heart, if it’s intended to be known. The intrigue of every conversation begs every ounce of my attention and it’s well penned and delivered. Truth be told I actually felt empowered for the females against all the superficial because of their insatiable thirst for survival out of the doomed, gilded servitude they were trapped as consorts and concubines. Nothing in their lives was up to their own choice, and for little they could sway with the matters of the heart, they strived to cling onto, on every tiny bit of human normalcy. The characters have changes of heart, romances, relationship ebbs and flows, and it’s all making sense at the precise state of mind at where the drama is at. I spent half the drama swept by 2 characters genuinely in love just to be cheering on the hate and venom of the fallout later. The story is not fed to us in the usual rushed and instantaneously gratifying manner and pace but I just love the time taken with the steady storytelling, when each unfolding of event is dealt with care. Even when the plot itself is nothing too inventive as far as palace intrigue and conspiracy goes, often we can tell what will happen in the next plot twist but how the character gets from point A to point B is keeping me glued.
I’m not gushing over Chen JianBing’s treatment of his emperor Yong Zheng here, I think I’m kicking him out of my crushes pile. There is something distracting in his truncated line-reading. He gets the job done, but I did wonder if he had any fun working on this production at all, he looks like he’s bored to death most of the time. I love they chose an ahjusshi looking YZ and not making him one bit appealing, even though it makes sense why the ladies will fall for him in their circumstances. How the character is written is close what I want in a shady, complicated, excessively sensitive yet jaded, ruthless, calculating, cold and cruel emperor who almost never let his inner guard be down. His love for his hard-earned empire and protective of himself is always the highest priority.
But GOSH, can I droolz and bow more to Consort Hua Jiang Xin?! She is the ‘villain’ but boy is she a hoot and a half to watch. There is not ONE face she misses a beat. You will hate her Consort Hua, but you will also hopelessly sympathize with her.
Sun Li has the chops, she is a force to reckon with. I ended up crying like a baby on the plane watching and all she did was drop a few oh so poignant tears. Every one of her close-up is packed with so much understated punch. Not only she can cry pretty with the skill of a good K-actress, the tears are not dropping like it’s from a faucet leak, but with gradients of pain and devastation. I might not be huge enough a fan to watch everything she is in from now on, but I can’t deny it’s been my pleasure watching her acting in every scene as Zhen Huan, especially towards the end. I can’t root for Zhen Huan the character in everything because I find her character very self-serving while outwardly she is supposed to be this saintly heroine.
As much as I find Prince 17 Le DongXue VERY handsome, I wished he’s an even better actor, he’s good, but the scenes of ZH with 17 are sooooo gloriously angsty and tearing my heart out as is, stealing my tears by the truckload, but the slaying could’ve been so much more delish!!!!
A sequel a movie or a drama is in the works, following where it left off. IF it’s by the same scriptwriter and director husband and wife pair, GIMME!!!!