The Battle of ChangSha Watch Along ep4

My sister is almost married to Commander Gu!

*fanboy/lil’cousinHu, I see you stealing my face :O~~~~~*

  • XM is jumping ship, he always joins XX dissing Gu, he is the one calling him Hades!  But XM notices Gu has been opposite of harsh to them, letting XX off easy with the cement fiasco she is still bearing a grudge upon…upon Gu humiliating her in public and running deeper, being indifferent to her.  I love you, XX, but I am on the side of the guys this time, Gu is in the middle of business, delivering the 30 padded jackets, now interrupted by a few young delinquents trespassing and claiming to know him.  Bear in mind young lady, you are the cause of many of his very public inconveniences after a few short ‘chance meetings’ and he tells you he already knows she is one of the trespassers throwing his connection around and still he takes the time to come rescue you.  This is some letting of ego. There are 4 kids in the room, his eyes are on XX’s back of her head addressing his quips to her.
  • Gu XiangXiang, you are really something. – It is none of your business, do not be a busybody.   Fine, I will get going.  (make me stay~~~~!)

Who are you?!

  • He is my Fiance. How fast your family is moving on. (stating the obvious, I staked claim of keeping you in line from your BiL’s guardianship, let me fail in hiding jealousy with hot smirks). 
  • The smirk is suddenly off his face as he raised his voice scolding them. I hope he is not relayed the information XM just uttered to the officers XX is almost his betrothed on top of knowing him, yet now she is rubbing it in with another fiance in tow, asking him for a personal favor, and he is obviously showing the world they have a history.
  • Even though i am giggling it is cute Gu is unaware of his chagrin, it is another humiliation his almost fiancee could’ve left him scorned, promising her hand to a boy wet behind ears instead. With what he said, even if his colleagues had doubts, he has confirmed this young lady must have some arrangement with him gone south to cause him snippy on how fast she has moved on from him.
  • Seeing XX is pissed he is not letting them leave, his face relaxes, as if he is gloating a tiny victory of one-up.  When heartstrings are tugged we become sensitive and petty and childish.
  • I have counted, Gu has thrown us four variations of upswings of the corners of his lips, I call them smiles, life is suddenly a cause of smiling(ok more like smirking), full of uncontainable emotions be it headaches, embarrassment, exasperation, petty amusement, empathy, jealousy…whenever this young lady is around and he must’ve used up half his chitchat quota for the month in the minute he is in the room with a crackling taunting XX.
  • Remember the day when Commander Gu is flustered, stomping off by a few condescending remarks from the same young lady?!  I bet he has forgotten, she still has no fear nor respect for him in front of his peers and he finds her genuinely amusing (he uses the word interesting then) he still has the hint of a smile on his face as he asks the commander of the army base for a talk.
  • As he walks the youngsters out the gate, he gives them a heads up on what his talk with the commander must be about.  No harsh words patronizing them, he is considerate, figures the commotion is because they miss their older cousin dearly, trespassing with the good intention of greeting him farewell before he is sent to the battlefront.   Cousin is already on his way for 4, 5 days, his location is confidential, even Gu has no information of his whereabouts.  He urges them to go home. He, cares.  We have the heart fluttering emo music cue XX is softened or more like she is swooned by his genuine kindness yet again, this time she is fully aware.

 

  • XM hides XX’s new outfit for a date with her fanboy fiance.  XM smirks he will be delighted, won’t call off the engagement, just with the clothes she is wearing.  XX accuses XM of being jealous of her marrying off, she snatches the pic he is hiding, the one they took with her bff from middle school, JinFeng, XM’s secret crush. JF is back in Changsha, now an army nurse.
  • XX bribes TaiPing with chocolate and gets her intelligence XM sneaked a package into Sis’ room, hiding her new clothes knowing XX fears BiL the most.
  • Sis is trying to keep the bickering twins in order, running havoc in her room. This is not XM’s usual childish prank.  He is trying to stop the date knowing XX does not love the boy.   I like him because he would say what is on his mind, how much he likes me, out loud, unlike XM withand that certain someone on my mind.
  • 10:00 XM has his cheeks pinched by BiL as a token of approval, of good exercise of his mind figuring out fanboy is not good enough for XX.  That’s cute, even cuter is Sis saving XM’s cheek by pulling the ears of her brawny husband, haha even timid cousin XuXu is smiling.
  • With a loaded compliment of how sharp and with her own sassy mind XX is, matching her up with the docile fanboy from a well-off family, BiL is at his tongue again.  XX would never be mistreated (while dying a slow death of boredom of her mind)  This is not a time to be choosy snatching a decent Son in Law, it is a time to make do.  His wisecrack is never the most appetizing at the dinner table, yet it has its weight on everyone.
  • Sis changes subject, XM also has a girl he sets his mind on! XuXu is disheartened.

 

  • Jin Fung, you are back!  😀  How much I have missed you....I am here to see you!!!  All the lines XM is practicing as he is caught suspiciously peeping around the hospital, JF saves him in time being held by the guards for shady behavior. Pesky,  XM coerced a date with JF at 6pm, luring her he will bring her cotton swabs.
  • Marry me.  I am serious.  A knee on ground, XM is proposing!  We saw JF taking a pause the moment prior, as the church bells toll in the hour, her face tensed up a calm composure but she is shaken. XM ignorance is rubbing her all wrong.  ‘War is on, but lives have to go on too.   If we give up living, before the japs were here, we would be extinct!’  ‘ I want to live a good life with you, protect you, give you a home.’  All empty lofty promises to JF’s ears, she responses: unless you fight in the war and killed 100 japs!!  This is beyond XM’s grasp sheltered in his pampered carefree existence, JF would rather use her tender loving care on injured strangers instead of him.  In uncontrollable tears, JF tells him what happened to her in NanJing, her parents were slaughtered by the japs, she as witness. Good life is for an innocence like XM, not for her.
  • XX tries to cheer XM. LiuBi visited ZuGe Liang thrice to persuade him out of exile.  This is just your first try.
  • JF’s whole family is slaughtered in the massacre… while XM is fixated on how impossible it is to get what he wants, XX hollers at him to shut up, how incredulous of him to ask JF to marry him when she is living in a traumatized mourning of her entire family? He is not even capable of providing for JF, giving her a family, XX says it bluntly.
  • XX visits JF right away, knowing she is in need of a friend, as she meanders through the makeshift hospital, her gait is heavier as she takes in the traumatic reality night and day from her life of bickering about a dress with her twin. She brings along the medical supplies, also putting in her words offering JF to leave ChangSha along with them when it is the time, very soon.  A soldier in excruciating pain is rushed in, he has lost a limb, without antibiotics, he is cutting himself to bleed to death.  His body is blood-less, ice cold.
  • Where are the treatments and medicines promised to us on enlistment, as we are fighting with our lives on the line?!??!  Who is giving a care about us ?!?!   The soldiers explode, venting out their anger on JF.  XX, quick on her wit, and scorned, diverges the rage to the high ranking Gu ChingMing, passing by in his convoy.
  • Commander, our hospital has filed numerous reports, urgent pleading letters for supplies, why is there no response? JF bawls
  •  What do you think you all are doing?!  Written order is out, summary execution is to be instated on any disorderly conduct amongst the injured soldiers!  Gu makes his stance.


  • XX is in every nook of CS looking for the antibiotics, even brave enough to ask around shoddy alleyways. A tiny box of Sulfonamide injection is now worth 2 gold bars in the black market, she might as well try her luck asking for some from the military supplies, they snicker.
  • Is there a dinner that BiL can enjoy at ease with a peace of mind?!  Not lately.  XX is poking around whether the most resourceful person in Changsha, her BiL, has his hands on Sulfonamide, somewhere.  Life is so chaotic, it would be handy if we keep some at bay, just in case there is an emergency, right?  Predictably, her scheme falls on the gullible mousy ears of Dad and is a valid point to him.  If it is convenient, get some Sulfonamide for the household, will you?  BiL must’ve heard this variation of  ‘let them eat cake’ from daddy’s mouth in his every nightmare.
  • BiL is not even hustling this time, there is no way he can get his hands on Sulfonamide, the army is guarding it more precious than gold.   But with Sis’ soft spoken canoodling, ‘ Because it is hard to get, that is why we ask you.’  He is a puddle of goo of an yes-man whenever she strokes his ego
  • XX has been almost perfect with her manipulation, every one is falling prey, doing and saying exactly as her little cunning head has planned unbeknownst.  But she tripped on the finish line just as BiL is saying yesyesyes to Sis, defenseless.  When will you get the medicine? Oh nono, not in a hurry, I am just asking, very casually. Hm.
  • XX did you get yourself fresh into some trouble AGAIN?!!??!   This is how well BiL knows XX, better than her dad.

 

  • Commander Gu is smiling intently, looking his most approachable, gift in hand visiting manager Zhang in charge of army supplies.   Zhang offers Gu tea, but says he can’t accept his gift.  Gu exchanged a knowing glance with mookie.
  • Enough of beating around the bush, Gu will be frank as Zhang brings up his Daddy Gu in ChongQing with a thinly snide remark: We have to be contented with enjoying a cup tea (whatever we have) while it lasts.

  • I wish manager Zhang will give me (and my dad) face, allow me a supply of sulfonamide.
  •  I would have given you, paying respect to your Dad, if I have the supply….how about I treat you and your officer lunch, so it won’t be a trip wasted. (In other words, I have already given the respect, offer you tea/nicety, wasting my time, exactly because of your Daddy or else…be smart, be on your way now young gun.)
  • Bribing with his expensive German watch, more padded snark on him being the privileged son of his Father, Manager Zhang is just moved to tapping his fingers.

  • It is all playing according to Gu’s expectation.  With one look at mookie, enough said.  Gotta love how well they mesh as commander and his buddy bff underling!  Go mookie!

  •  Manager Zhang, you won’t give face to the watch, but you should give face to a Browning hand gun, huh?  SO COOL!

  • Remember we make fun of HXM’s Yang Guo having his own OTP for preening how gorgeous he is with his wind machine in RoCH06, I think WH’s Gu has an equivalent with his cigarette smoke, a fog of swoon, just that it does do the unthinkable, making him even more dashing,   His job here is done, as he takes a de-stressing smoke, something caught his eye he has to make this trademark gorgeous turnaround.
  • It is XX, again making a commotion he finds most amusing, so ballsy and ridiculous she is asking to buy sulfonamide at the gate.
  • When Commander Gu is exercising his clear logical head, Mookie has no problem getting his thoughts with a batting of his lashes.  When it is matter of irrational emotions, he is lost.  Why on earth would Gu give 3 boxes of medicine more expensive than the weight of gold he barters with his precious watch from military school to ‘that young lady‘?!  To Her?  Mookie dearie, you do not understand, what belongs to the husband, belongs to his future common law wife as well.  What’s his is hers, what’s hers is hers.

  • this gif, I am titling:  I smile when I make her happy.

  • I smile when I enjoy seeing, nodding ‘Attagirl!‘ to her reflection being the hotblooded passionate honorable busybody sassy young lady, pretty and cute on my side mirror.  This is myself approving my own fine taste in woman.
  • XX immediately delivers the supplies to JF.  JF tells XX where the hospital is situated is no longer safe, they have to move to another location very soon.  XX spills out her plan, she is engaged to be married any day now.  In time, they would leave the country.   XX knows it is not appropriate, but she lets JF knows XM has her in his heart, always.  War is imminent, a woman can not fight for the country in battlefield.  She wants JF to marry into her family as well.  For the second time in a day, JF retells her haunting trauma, this time she is sure XX can emphasize fully.
  •  JF:

    XX, in Nanjing,  I can only watch on with my eyes wide open, my parents, my brothers, being slaughtered, stab after stab by the japs.  Do you know how it feels with their blood splattered all over my face?   You are still the same XX, I am no longer the same JF.  We have different paths in life.

  • It hits XX hard, back home, she is almost nauseous with XM pestering what exactly did JF say, too devastated to retell.  She can only imagine a fraction how unbearable it is for JF being asked her hand in marital bless in her state of hollowing depression.
  • At the hospital the next day, Cousin Liu is under arrest having interned with a Japanese professor when he was a medical student years ago.  Anyone with any Japanese connection is under the fearful eye of suspicion.   At the dinner table, dead silence, a table of delicious, untouched favorites of BiL awaits for his late return.  No one moves their chopsticks, like hell freezes over. BiL goes for the obvious, what troubles did his trouble-making twins siblings in law got themselves into this day, like any day?
  • Dad refers to BiL by his given name, a form of intimacy rarely seen, ‘Jun Shan, do you know any friends in the police?’

The fog of war rears its head,  dawning on everyone, seeping into the lives of even our sheltered Hu family. Through subtle seamless touches, we tastes the horror along with our characters we have invested in.  It is hitting home when a well-to-do enough Hu family has a kin enlisted, whereabouts unknown.   It is hitting home when the patriarch of the family extends an olive branch to his sister in law, who has cut off any word with him for decades, established herself in ChangSha as a craftsman of a tailor shop, but he still tries his luck if she would take up his offer of sanctuary in the countryside for the sake of her family.  XX is no longer vehemently against an arranged marriage with a decent enough boy she is not in love with, for plans of bringing her family out of a faltering ChangSha.  She is no longer in school, it is no longer safe to get an education.  It is very subtle, but XX is no longer roaming the streets of ChangSha at her free will when it gets dark, she is chaperoned by either her date or her twin brother.  When we first met her, she is freely striding the streets of Changsha in her school uniform, joining a demonstration, skipping school, buying a snack, looking on a scene, ogling a hot guy, free like any normal young teenage brat of any era.  Gu Ching Ming is no longer always on the highest pedestal of the princeling of the most prominent political backer of the KMT.  He is willing to break his strict principles, canoodling with a fake smile, bribing, threatening a fellow officer with a gun to his head, whatever means necessary.  The party is losing the war, weasels are vying for their own survival, honor and respect is now worth less than a vial of sulfonamide.  A German watch worth a 100 taels is, so is head of cowards at gunpoint.  We get glimpses into the darker corners of Changsha, we witness through the eyes of the ignorant XM, then progressing to a much wiser compassionate XX the crumbling devastating state of the army hospital.  We see death in excruciating pain even the privileged Hu twins can not look away.  A determined, overworked, on last straws of sanity, in active mourning nurse is willing to meet up a bumbling childhood idiotic admirer for cotton swabs.  The best doctor is pulled off serving his duty of saving lives, under arrest as conspiracy takes over in hopelessness and fear tactics.  Dad who refused to even live under the same roof of BiL, is calling him JunShan after his daughter in a pleading voice. Everything is fluidly shifting to a sadder state of affairs.  I have sobbed a few times in the 45 min.  This is not even the beginning to the end.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “The Battle of ChangSha Watch Along ep4

  1. I should have written this earlier, but I wanted to say that I watched the entire Battle of Changsha drama a month ago (did not skip a single episode, which I just about NEVER do, because it was THAT good!) because I saw your vehement recommendation on your blog. Like you, I now consider Battle of Changsha one of the best dramas I have ever watched (<3)!!!! I then started dutifully following your blog because I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say about it. I just wanted to thank you for bringing me to this heart-warming and heart-breaking drama (all those emotions, coming to me all at once! *sniff, sniff*) and for keeping up with these drama recaps. Especially the last bit that you wrote about the sadness of war "rearing its head" in this episode, I cannot agree with it more! I hope if it's not too much to ask, keep the recaps/watch-alongs coming!!!

    <3,

    Lily

    1. *hug* Lily! Thanks for your reply~! I can’t tell you how glad I am knowing you are exactly experiencing the utter joy of being lucky, really, to have watched and thoroughly marveling at this drama at its perfection. It is very rare for me to fall in love at first sight for a drama nowadays, knowing so certainly this is promising and would get better as the drama progresses by the episode, and it delivers my expectation and exceeding it some more…when I dare to expect a great deal from it just by the taste of ep1.

      I love how the director sets out to portray war through the lens of unassuming characters of a normal family, slightly luckier than most, living under the wrath of war, really living, and holding onto normalcy, almost inconspicuously essaying war from every seam, every character, building an all encompassing pictorial. It is easy to resort to obvious effective visuals of war, throw in a battlefield scene at leisure, but we did not see one fighting scene so far, yet war is vivid, it is in the air, it takes presence so realistically. This episode, we met JF from not knowing she exists to able to dissect her psyche and commiserate with minutes worth of screen time in so much control and nuance, and on big daunting discussion: how do you mourn and survive when you are the lone survivor, losing your entire family in a massacre?! JF chooses her path of survival, not living, but surviving, when living, being alive to her is a luxury and a harrowing horror. when I rewatched her retelling the death of her family, with their blood splattering, washing over her face (and she laid in the corpses till danger subsided, cut from this version) I can not help but extrapolate she must’ve revisited the trauma washing her face, the sensation of cold water being their blood. I hope not often, but she must’ve.

      1. Yes, yes, and yes, in regards to the portrait of war so exquisitely painted. I love your blog because it is really rare that dramas (at least Chinese ones, I don’t really watch any others) are dissected with such insight. Some dramas are so good that they deserve pages of analysis and review (and gushing at how awesome it is, of course), and Battle of Changsha is one of them. And another aspect of this drama that I absolutely love is that it shows us glimpses of war with so much finesse. I don’t want to divulge any spoilers, but it doesn’t splatter the screen with unimaginable gore and blood. It’s the little details, like JF’s story, a tear, an expression, that fill up our hearts (and eyes >.<) with sorrow.

        1. A good director at the helm, he can evoke so much with so little, we r prompted right into the mind and emotions of these characters whenever the camera is on them, it is amazing in rewatch how reaction faces of 小穆,小弟,小黑,even the extras are spot on when it is not necessary, but it is in the minute details that add to the convincing world building, separating entertainment and art. That is finest dedication i have seen. It is not lavish these are not A-lister, given WH’s idol status, he is sucha risk, probably a turnoff assuming he would be out of place ( was one of the naysayers) more than a plus. And knowing they record the audio live and PD, obviously has a higher standard than most, is so satisfied with their line-reading no dubbing is done to any of the leads ( i only notice JF being dubbed and yes, the performance of the actress is a weaklink), i can only imagine lhow conducive of a gelling team work, synergy of good parts, it must’ve been for everyone to give their all and some to result in this great work.

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