I love WH’s acting in this scene. The character is still the usual stock, the cold prince, all the bit actors in the back are doing a collective wonderful job, and PD zoomed in on his face, focusing on the minute twitches, a quivering of his throat, his eyes blinking off a mist, his jaw tightened as they are pleading with him, many of them are poor boys from Changsha with a widowed old sick mother at home surviving on their army wages. They won’t make it out if the city is burned to the ground
He is not cold, but very passionate about his dream, his principles, his fellow countrymen, his soldiers, the citizens of ChangSha under his watch. The unapproachable aloof is barely there…he just never sees much cause to smile in his life. Emotions will not win a war. That is changing very gradually with XX bumping into his life, time and time again, as fate/BiL dictates. This is not a light episode, our Gu ChingMing is in the biggest introspection of his life.
Commander, you can not look the other way!
You know, I am a ChangShanite too.
If this is true….
No wonder you let Xue JunShan off easy.
Commander, I am begging you.
Dilemma. Desperate to stop the fire, yet compelled to obey his orders. Gu calls his Dad for the first time.
(Dad): There is nothing I can do.
I will ask you one question. Are you a soldier? If you are, your first rule of engagement is obey orders. If you can not do that, you do not deserve to be a soldier… come back home.
We have seen Gu ChingMing living strictly under military rules and order, implementing execution, punishing children for minor infractions, even when he felt compassion within, his actions and words show no human entanglement. His one track mind is, he wants to devote his every fiber, every thought to winning the war and consider every other aspects of human existence insignificant, including being filial to his father. It is not he has no emotions, at the burial, he puts a token of respect lighting three cigarettes for the soldier he ordered the execution, after XX’s public humiliation for a childish prank, he uses her to preach to the public how they need to do their part in the war as well…he was overwhelmed, looked away at XX suffering. He has compassion he never allows himself to operate on if it is an infraction to being a soldier first and foremost. If he saw real gain of this fire, he perhaps would not be dead set on breaking the soldier’s code of obeying orders. It is not his position to put in any word of dissuasion, let alone the guilt of begging his father, using his Dad’s influence to do the dissuasion for him. Even though he is desperate, he still is operating within the code, requiring his soldiers under his command the strictest conduct, even mookie, he would take it up on himself the dishonor to break the rules if necessary.
I heard it from Gu ChingMing *Ouch*
Write the name of your family in this book, the army will evacuate them. One condition, not another word! The best way to save our family, save Changsha is to fight the enemy till their bitter end.
All of you head to XiangTan. I am not going anywhere.
JunShan has a lot of vices, empty promises is not one of them.
I have the spirit tablets of your Dad and your Brother to keep me company.
Go to bed, you do not have to worry when I am at the helm.
Getting married so hastily?!
Are you born in the year of the Donkey/Ass?
(Dad): A wedding can not be done so impetuously.
We are the only one knowing about the fire, and no one else heard about the signal fire from the Tianxin Building if it happens….at least I need to tell Cousin. Don’t you want to tell JF?
What are you saying? You are getting engaged tomorrow?
(cousin): Our new bride.
How our XX has grown up, knowing how to be concerned, and care about me. Don’t worry.
Grandmama I am scared.
What if XM is right, I do not love Sheng at all?
Whom you love, and whom you marry are two yarns from separate yards.
Our XX is so lucky…she will soon be married into the Sheng’s family, and never have to worry about anything for the rest of your life.
Order is we have to get ready the fuel for the fire immediately.
IF this fire is really happening….
Trying every desperate option to talk to chairman Zhang:
We will be on the lookout for chairman Zhang at the birthday memorial for Dr. Sun.
Setting ChangSha on fire?!?!? Why/How is there such a thing?!
How or why indeed. If this military strategy worked, it would be a line, a paragraph in history how they cut off the suffering of the rest of China for years under the wrath of war, how they won the war. But even so, to the Changshanites this wi forever be calamity of their town burning to the ground as a pawn in war. It could rewrite CN modern history of what party would be in charge…but words on history books, who would emerge as the ruling party in another 10 years from then, means nothing to the citizens living through the days before, of poor boys of widowed mothers, enlisting as soldiers for a living and now learning what they have been putting their heads in line, their family, their mothers, their hometown, would vanish under a military order and at that moment, every one of them is only a boy worried for their moms. When rumors are trickling out, the dooming tension is in the air, how a living has still to be lived, wedding must be rushed but they put in every effort of instilling some normalcy. An idealistic honorable Gu is scuffling to revoke a military plan set in motion by pulling his Father connection, fighting it with his soldier’s code of honor on the line. A XJS is shrewdly aware there is nothing he can do to reset the higher order, he is going along but we saw him shaken and stirred, we trust if there is one person that can savage something in Changsha by whatever means at very last turn, this is the guy. In the face of the end, of life and death, they are all willing to let go of habits, of normalcy they r fiercely guarding, scrambling out a mix of some dignity, some moral compass and some compassion like never before.