The Battle of ChangSha Watch Along ep15

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月亮粑粑, 肚里坐个爹爹,

爹爹出来买菜, 肚里坐个奶奶,

奶奶出来绣花, 绣扎糍粑,

糍粑跌得井里,变扎蛤蟆,

蛤蟆伸脚, 变扎喜鹊,

喜鹊上树, 变扎斑鸠,

斑鸠咕咕咕, 和尚呷豆腐,

豆腐一匍渣, 和尚呷粑粑,

粑粑一匍壳, 和尚呷菱角,

菱角溜溜尖, 和尚望哒天,

天上四扎字, 和尚犯哒事,

事又犯得恶, 抓哒和尚剁脑壳

The oldest ChangSha nursery rhyme that is still passing down nowadays, written in anadiplosis where the last word of the previous line forms the first word of the next.   It is a poem illustrating a peaceful night in ChangSha under the moonlight, Grandpapa is at the market, Grandmama is working on her embroidery, rice cakes, toads, magpies, turtle doves, tofu, water chestnuts, monks misbehaving, painting a lively scene, created in Ming dynasty, before the war putting Ming dynasty to an end, the last of a Han chinese dynasty and generally considered by the Han chinese as the standstill of the Chinese cultural development.

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A checkpoint blocking the road is new, they are investigating a small concentration of jap soldiers spotted in the area.  GCM asks if the guards have seen three children down this road.

Always the sweet child, seeing a gravely hurt soldier, he must be thinking of his dead brother, XiangShui offers to give the soldiers a ride to the nearest hospital in their cart.
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XM recognizes the weird accent, just like the jap spies he met when he ran away. XS wants to follow their tracks, he knows the geography so well. He asks XX and XM to call for help, he would leave behind a trail.  XX and XM won’t let him, he jumps off the cart and XM can not stop it in time.
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The spies ask for his guide to XiangTan, XS refuses, ‘You are japanese!

The spy stabbed the poor child in the heart.  T____T

Big fat moon, there is my Grandpapa…

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Why did you not stay in Japan, enjoying your moon, singing your nursery rhymes? 

-After we conquer China, your moon is our moon.

You won’t see the day… because you can’t get out of here!!!

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Big fat Moon…

Old comfort, his most familiar nursery rhyme of peaceful happy times is what he chooses to bring with him, the sweetest mild mannered boy who has just lost his big brother, usually a wimp, hiding a slope further from everyone else, but there is a bravest boy in him.   We are not told but his parents most probably died young, as most Grandpapa’s children did.  So long, the sweet loving boy raised by Grandpapa.
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The shots and explosions are heard far and wide.  XiangShui has bravely led the spies into the landmines.
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OH MY POOR CHILD!  T_____T MY BLEEDING HEART!

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XX: Grandpapa it is my fault!  My fault!!

With their ancestors as witness, Grandpapa has his wooden sword in hand, he is making XP and XM swear they will never go to the frontline, or else it would disrupt the peace and harmony of their ancestors.

Say it!!

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XP swears he must fight the jap instead, if he does not avenge the death of two of his brothers he is more unworthy than a beast.

You want to die, huh?!  Let me beat you to death right here right now,

at least I can keep a whole corpse.

GCM steps in to comfort Grandpapa in heartbreaking distraught.  Grandpapa leads him to another room to talk in private.  Grandpapa begs GCM to talk XP out of enlisting.

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XP is like me when I was younger.

My dad can not stop be from being a soldier,

on the same token, Grandpa Hu, you can not stop XP from enlisting.

-You young people, are too simple, too naive.

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After the death of Grandpapa’s own son, his wife cried nonstop for months in so much grief she followed him, leaving Grandpapa all alone, other than loneliness, there is only pain… after the death of XiangLing and XiangShui, there is only XiangPing and XiaoMun left in their bloodline.  He kneels down, begging the commander, who can not help but promise Grandpapa.

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XP pleads for GCM to take him along to the army base for enlistment.  GCM tries to persuade him, we all have parents, and their hearts are made of flesh and blood, there is only how much pain they can withstand.  The Hu family needs him more.   After a death, it is always those surviving suffering for the rest of their lives.

This is the second time GCM calls his Father, the first time out of being overwhelmed by emotions missing his Father, thinking of him, prompted by the haunting words of Grandpapa.
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How are you Father? 

How is your health lately?

…Do not worry,  I am fine.

Father immediately worries about the sudden phone call in the middle of the night.

Father…I have put in my effort, defending the country from the japanese.  

Please take good care of yourself.

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There is something I want to tell you all along, 

I am proud of you.

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‘I am proud of you.’

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The dichotomy of parent and child in 5 words.  This must be the first time GCM hearing a praise from his father, not just a compliment but the highest honor.  Despite him rebelling against his Father’s wish, despite their strained relationship, he is proud of his son exactly for persevering through all the hindrances, many subjected by Father himself and tried his very best to be the upright honorable worthy young man he aspired to be.   Father must have sensed his son at a very weak emotional state of mind, most probably witnessing trauma and grief that is suffocating him and calling back home for an old comfort, a peace of mind just hearing his Father’s voice.  It must have crossed Mr Gu Sr’s mind if he breaks down and pleads for GCM’s return from his post as a logistic commander, never having the chance fighting in line of fire, GCM is at his most defenseless moment…but Father did not.  He did the opposite, sending his loveliest words of encouragement, fuel for GCM to soldier on, fighting the war, making his Father proud.   Father is sacrificing his own pain, for the happiness of his only son.  Again, another perfect scene in less than a minute.

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Blink and you miss, the table is sparse with just three tiny dishes at meal time.  Time is harder and harder.  Grandmama is not known to be in love with Dad’s fancy toys of technology, but she knows how to turn on the radio, all ears listening to the news from the war front, gauging how her Grandson in Law is faring, whether her dearest twin grandchildren out of her sight is in danger, the house is too deadly quiet without their bickering.  Edgily she is waiting for her son’s safe return when a trip to the post office is taking way too long.  The room is filled with finery of newer taste.  The sideboard has modern lines and embellishment and a replica of The Basket of Apples by Cezanne is decorating the wall.  A seemingly nondescript still life of a bottle of wine, apples and cookies, at the brink of tipping over into a destruction.

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Cousin MH is too busy to join them for lunch.  XJ suggests they make him some good food and she will visit him at the hospital.
MH is engrossed by the visual of XJ, bringing him lunch.  (I do not like him pining for a married woman, even if it is his first love he can never let go, and this must be a visual still in his dreams of his doting wife bringing him lunch.)

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XJ is here with the ulterior motive of asking MH about any word on JunShan.  MH is visibly disappointed knowing what her visit is truly about.  He has not heard from him and his battalion, no news is good news these days.

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XX asks XM if he is in pain. XM knows she is not feeling well. XiangShui is most afraid of pain, he would scream when she pinched him.

If he can do it, so can I.

XX gained a harsh new understanding of JF’s words, you do not know what mourning is until their blood is splattered on your face, you do not know real pain until the bullets hit your body.  Her mind is occupied with the pain and it will only get worse when idle, she must do something worthwhile…

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She will leave tomorrow, studying nursing at YuanLing (~50 miles west of ChangSha).  XM does not want her to leave his side, they have never lived apart all their lives.

What am I supposed to do?

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XX yells at XM being useless, she tells XM he has to stay in CS, he is responsible for supporting the family.  XM must have sensed it is XX’s way of protecting him from harm’s way, they can feel the other being very emotional reeling from the deaths, as XX must have guessed, XM wants to join the army too, it must be hard on him to stay sheltered under the roof while XX will be close to the line of fire tending the wounded.   XX the pragmatic bluntly puts it, now that BiL is in battle, with his many enemies in CS, it is up to XM to keep the family safe being a man, that is something she can not physically do.

XX and XM left a parting note for Grandpapa they are heading back to CS, in so much grief, a part of him is dead along with them.  Grandpapa knows the deaths must be hitting the twins hard, he gives up hounding for them,  just asking XQ to ensure they have a safe travel home.   He is also passing on the responsibility of stalwart of the family after his own death, all the spirit tablets, to XQ if none of them comes back.
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The twins are grabbing a bite waiting for the ferry when they are joined by XiangPing, he has also left XiangTan to enlist.  XM is adorably mentioning BiL’s name again, he tells XP just ask for his help, there is nothing he can not do in CS. The food stall owner gives them a free dish, that is a little thank you any normal folk can do respecting a young guy fighting for his country.

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High commander is pleased they found a very detailed map in the possession of the spies XiangPing sacrificed himself killing.  This is a good blow to their nefarious schemes.  He is not happy however GCM refuses to enlist a highschool graduate when they are in desperate needs of recruits.   GCM explains the young man is from the Hu family, he is the last surviving son of his generation after the 2 back to back deaths.
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High commander understands and passes down the order all enlistment station must refuse to recruit XiangPing.
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The twins break down seeing the parents and Grandmama.  They have braved through so many tribulations in XT, but all they are devastated upon is the death of they brothers and good friends XiangLing and XiangPing.
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Grandmama laments the loss of two of her grandchildren, she feels horrible for Grandpapa.

It must be too hard on you, my Brother.

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XX tells the family her decision she is studying nursing.  She compromises staying in CS for her studies, probably cousin MH can arrange for her to work at his hospital and she can stay close to family.  XM ensures Grandmama, swearing on his cruller he would protect XX.

At his motel, XP catches the eye of XiaoHe, BiL’s underling.  He approaches XP, after XP tells him what he is doing in town, but not able to enlist, XH comes up with a plan, he can enlist in someone else’s name, as long as being an infantry is not below him.
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XH is a soldier trafficker, making shady money by arranging false identity, paying poor boys to fight in the place of rich kids unwilling to serve the country. Despite that, XP is going along with his schemes.

GCM looks like he has a sure plan in hand, today he is a telegram delivery boy.  Bad news from the front the jap army is pushing onto the outskirts of CS.  The front line urgently needs delivery of supplies and here is where GCM fits in, persuading his superior to let him make the delivery.   This is the rice he has worked very hard in earning, and he should be rewarded.
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While getting his delivery truck ready, he catches XP, who is going by a different name from a different village.
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How do you want me to explain to your Grandpapa?!The commanding officer warns GCM any delay would result in the enemy breaking their defense, marching into the city.  GCM lets go of XP, but he made him snuff out XiaoHe being the trafficker behind, who used to work under XM’s BiL.
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8 thoughts on “The Battle of ChangSha Watch Along ep15

  1. YAY another post!! Honestly one of the best parts of my day is reading your episode reviews 🙂 I feel so bad for the grandpa but if I were in XP’s position, I don’t think I would’ve been able to stay at home while watching others go to war either.

    1. Hugs Jess! 😀

      That’s why all of us were young once…when our world evolves around ourselves and as we age we put on more and more hats and responsibilities…and for someone like Grandpa, he is no longer operating as an individual entity, I mean it is unbearable too being a widower with his son dead, his every thought is for his family only, because…again if it was not occupying himself as the patriarch, life would be meaningless and insufferable for him.

  2. Wow two recaps in one day! Thanks for your hard work. I look forward to your posts. Poor Grandpa, he keeps having to send off his grandchildren. I love the short phone calls between GCM and his father. Sometimes a few simple words is all it takes to help the other person carry on through tough times.

    1. Do you think my read is true though? I somehow see GCM at a very shaky weary place.
      There really is no right and wrong, we do not have exaggerated caricatures and feel for both sides. Grandpa is not coming from stubborn patronizing, it is hard to grieve for a child, let alone time and time again and for a futile cause in his pov. Just like a line in the drama, war is tipping over the nest, no egg carried can survive.

  3. So,I’ve watched the whole thing…never expected to cry till my eyes were swollen till the next day at work…still find Wallace Huo enunciation a bit weird but way better than his hey days..

    SPOILERISH QUES AHEAD…READ AT DISCRETION!

    Who is GCM’s dad? Like what is his position in the government? Why is the town that GU family is living in not affected by the war?

    1. They did not give GCM’s dad a name and a title, but we can assume he is one of the founding fathers of kuomintang since he is referring to say Jiang KaiShek as if he is a junior to him. All we can draw upon is he is from a very rich and prominent family, has been funding KMT politically, hence his influence and power.

      Gu family resides in ChongQing, which is geographically a ‘safe haven’ very mountainous, way in the middle of the continent, and extremely hard to attack, to the SW of ChangSha, IJA starts the destruction from the NW and since CS held its ground for the 6 years, it hinders the IJA’s reach. True to history it has been where the prominent KMT families resided, including the Jiangs. IJA did attempt an invasion of the city in 1942 but did not succeed.

      Yes, I agree WH’s enunciation is sticking out in the cast, but word from PD is he decided at the last minute to not dub their voice, being satisfied with their line reading so much, so they filmed it assuming they will be dubbed and it is a diligent effort by WH all things considered. I can suspend disbelief since his GCM could have been studying abroad for quite a well, and mandarin was designated as the official CN language just in 1932, we all speak in vastly different dialects even nowadays so it is actually quite interestingly befitting his mando is weird imo

  4. Love love the whole XT arc. XS’s death for me was totally unexpected. Even when he got caught I thought they will let him live (his brother just died, he’s a sweet kid, he totally should have at least a live dues ex machina card). But he the kid who is the scardey cat led the japs through the land mine and died. T_T crying again while typing this. Heart also breaks from grandpa hu having to bury 2 grandsons in a day. T_T

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