Since the beginning of last episode, after he said a heartbreaking goodbye to his wife in an intense embrace, BiL is busy playing ‘hide and seek’ with the japs as XiaoHe puts it. He is mentioned constantly by XX and XM. When XX pondered how they have grown, she is quoting the lessons from BiL in her mind; when she is taking up more responsibilities she has never thought she could, but BiL has faith in her before herself. When XM carried GCM back home in a stretcher, he taught back GCM the lesson how pride/shame means nothing to their family compared to coming back home, that is not what Dad could ever say out loud, that is 99% BiL, and GCM was at the receiving end of one such colorful speeches. XM is quick to show he is a smartypants injecting a wink of what GCM taught him when he peed his pants. XJS’s omnipresence is in this episode the same.
GCM is wearing the slightly too big pants of XJS as XiaoHe makes a food run for BiL. A huge bag of rice is XJS’ way of telling his family he is safe and sound. I cried a tear. This is a guy fully aware every moment where he is at could be his last as one of the first things he confided with GCM, and yet he arranges, pulling his connections with XH, no way easily, rice for his family, because he must know it is no longer safe for them making extra trips on the streets with the IJA infiltrating the city and bullets flying just outside their walls. While his reality is constant close encounters of life or death, he is still practicing his words taking the best care of them, missing them the most pragmatic way. He has no embarrassment of saying out loud his highest priority in life: missing his wife, taking care of his family, to GCM, to his minions, to the world. He must have bent a leg arranging for XiaoHe to deliver rice from where they are stationed to the doorsteps of his family, urging his speedy return to report to him their safety. And it says how well he is doing, even apart from them, when he is still the capable dependable XJS that can do everything he said he can.
I do not know if GCM reflects on the meticulous considerations of BiL constantly arranging for his family, not being too hard on him mere days recuperating, but it should not escape him this is the nitty gritty of how to provide for the mouths to feed, something he might not be aware of with his upbringing until now. He is a guy so immersed in pride and honor he has not written XX just to report his safety for weeks. XH does not linger, he is in a hurry to relay how well the family is doing to his bigbro, and that pwns sending letters and the stress waiting for a reply in this heightened tension. This is almost facetime in wartime.
GCM ceases the opportunity to ask XH his first hand accounts, specifically on the Tenth Corps. When he left them, half of their soldiers have perished and his powerful star general could not get any assistance. XH tells him the Tenth Corps has dispersed and is regrouping, but either XH really does not know the intelligence, or he does not want to break the devastating news, he says he has no idea how many of GCM’s soldiers are still alive and fighting. The hotblooded idealist GCM kicks in, he can not idle another moment not back on duty even when this is the first day he is able to walk with walkers.
XX was starvingly chowing down her food, but she almost stops eating when Grandmama tells her to persuade XiaoGu from reporting back to his troop in his condition. It hits her he is not being considerate of himself, not sensibly evaluating the situation…and he is insensitive of her feelings how much he means to her and how terribly she will worry about him with an open wound, aside from how much she will miss him as if he will not miss her with the hasty decision.
I have something to talk to you about.
It does not take someone as smart as XX to know from what Grandmama said, that line, and his face this is when he is going to break the news he is going to leave and report to duty, prepared, she smiles at him as she takes a seat by his side. He can not even make himself meet her eyes setting at him this moment and this is when she senses this is worse. This is the scene imo YZ is at the epitome of her awesome and her most beautiful. Rewatch her scene of the young girl crying and pleading in his car, in all the glorious heartbreaking frustration and desperation unwilling to part with her pride but must, to the same guy in E10 first and come back. The writing is superb in showing us in action how XX has grown all along, but it is such an intricate job for a young actress to tweak the mannerisms, the softer timber of her voice and that subtle gentler tenor in the same mood, how her eyes sparkle the same with many more layers of emotion, allowing them to be honestly expressed on her face in perfect control to portray a growth of 3 years of maturity. XX is almost 20 at this point, not quite, and her appearance is still girlish not yet a woman, the costumer did not go overboard in dressing her much older, her hair is just a practical, simpler do. This is how much that feisty little pepper who stole our heart in that teary pleading scene alone grows into this gracious wise very young woman of the most spellbinding mix of tenacity and tenderness, not vulnerability when her crying can break stones. She is irresistible and more than worthy for any man, and will make any grown stoic man cry as we can see. This is the scene that have my vote of YZ’s best of many in BoC. What a force to reckon with, young super talented lady!
Lets start with what GCM has to say and XX allows him to speak every word on his mind before taking her turn, but never a moment not expressing her reactionon her face for him to see:
I have been thinking rationally, I can not provide you with anything. Half of my troop had perished, another one or two thousand widows were born. Or more poetically, they are frost of tears left behind.
XX, you are young, beautiful and intelligent, you are in the flower of youth.
Even if you are willing to bear the title of widow for the rest of your life,
I would be too ridden with guilt to rest in peace six feet under.
XX smiles understandingly.
Do you understand what I am saying? (You are too good for me.)
It is not your decision whether I am willing or not.
Whether you can rest in peace…
worry about it then when you are there, six feet under.
That is inconspicuously an advancement of her feisty to a beguiling alluring lethal blend. In essence she is talking back to him, feeding him his own medicine: he asked her not to make decisions for him at his bedside last episode, and these are biting, no truer words spoken with the softest voice, most persuasive stance in her soul melting heartbreakingly sparkly globes. In many ways XX is the lady counterpart of a more honorable BiL, both equipped with masterful articulation, while BiL resorts to shameless coaxing, mindgames of a thug with a hugest heart, XX does not even need games, she can just present her soul, her love in all its gentle glory. The pretty girl in tears and the tenderest persuasion as a weakling is BiL’s idea of feminine weapondry; from the deepest softest part of her heart she is baring all… is her love for the one.
I am not debating with you.
Yes, the girl three years ago at our first meeting would argue with you, because… I wished to let you know I am very smart, I am articulate, I wanted you to notice me.
But I am no longer the girl from three years ago.
Now, if I have the time, I would save another life so there will be one less widow on this earth. Grandmama says, the world is in too much chaos, lets just count the blessing of every one of us still standing, surviving.
She is not only baring her soul this moment, but that of the bratty young girl 3 years ago. She is telling him she has set her eyes on him from the first moment he crosses her path. And her eyes are still set on him, only him, unwavering.
I am working day and night at the hospital, witnessing numerous lives leaving by my side, there is nothing I can do.
It must hit GCM, he could not do anything, caught up physically with the enemy while she was about to take a bullet for him, his scariest nightmare.
We do not know what will happen tomorrow, we do not even know if we could survive today and live another day.
But, as long as I have another day to live,
I will not give up hope.
I must live life to its fullest!
XX is making her point while she has no control over life and death, she is helpless with so many things in their lives, but there are things she can do, she is ceasing control of the matter of her heart, how she lives her life…and his at this very moment.
I know what you are afraid of. I know everything.
Every fallen hero she buried, she thought of him. Every name or nick she diligently recorded, their unmarked graves she dug with her hands, she thought of him. Every waking moment, hard at work, saving lives, she has him in mind, prepared of him leaving her and yet she keeps living each day, readying her mind with losing him, and her love for him thrives on. She grows stronger as a young lady and her love for him is what living life to its fullest for her, just holding on the thought he is alive in the weeks he has not written to him. She knows she is on his mind too, worrying about her and he can not stand it himself, let alone a young beautiful bright girl full of promise with a life ahead of her.
You think I am still too young, too naive.
You are afraid I can not persevere.
But let me tell you, since the day I have made the decision to be with you,
I have never regretted.
GCM, she has been persevering splendidly. While you are at work, you could not spare a moment surreal to reflect on her while scrambling from bullets, roofs falling on you, fires from bombs feet away and can only dwell in your nightmares. The physical survivalistic hell is opposite of hers dead silence, alone with her notebook, when she is dealing with the eternal deafening of death of her patients, of her internalizing every deed at work, thinking of you, missing you, managing a professional, calm front even XM is oblivious of. The girl who used to cry over a dead body, is memorizing every single one fallen the best she can because she is hoping you would be reciprocated this respect at least, lest you fall.
I am a girl!
If I can soldier on, why can’t you?!
I am begging you, can you not leave me behind?
She has not even allow you a moment out of her mind, as excruciating it must be seeing visuals of dying soldier and extrapolating your exact demise like them, constantly, and yet in her breaks, she writes down all of their names, even their nicks, yours will be Hades perhaps, she must have thought it through if you perish along with Mookie and everyone knowing you by name, your Corps suffered half a loss, thousands of soldiers as you said. Even clueless XM knows Baldy Li must have a name. She is constantly thrown in the awareness any soldier has family, perhaps a girl like her missing him, loving him. It is a double trauma she is persevering with each dead soldier passing by her side, of a young brave man dying too young, and she can not stop thinking of you, never leaving you anywhere but closest to her heart no matter how much it hurts. And you are entertaining the thought of leaving her, you can leave her, you are saying, just so you can rest in peace after you are dead, as if that is finite?!?! She is a girl, she was the girl who would play pranks on you, a girl who threatened to jump off the balcony, stab herself with scissors, knives or jump off a cliff not getting what she want in life. It is much easier to be dead and worrying about your conscience, than burying the dead bodies of living young men moments ago, vessels for love pouring in still from their dear ones. She remembers them all dearly, and for their loved ones sake.
Let us fight the japs together.
If you are here, I am not scared of anything.
I have only one thing I am asking of you,
please cherish me dearly.
Please do not give up on me.
GCM must have thought naively it is easier on her, and on him if they give up on this entanglement of love, haunting his dream and honorable conscience. Not saying he does not miss XX, nor not considering her in his actions and thoughts but he can not bear it, and wants to quit, moreso, he is aware how much she misses him, and he can not promise her with his words he can come back alive, he does not want her suffering, especially not because of him. However, these constantly torturous reminder of him is what XX is cherishing and holding dearer to her heart. She is prepared to live on passionately, he be her bittersweet nostalgia. She sees her work, grueling physically and mentally unbearable of visual reminders of him…as they are fighting the japs together, she pours her longing and love for him, over every soldier she is diligently caring for. She is telling GCM while he thinks about death looming over his head, she is also aware in every waking hours and is preparing herself. She is not afraid of the dead surrounding her, she sees every reminder, every thought of him, however painful, as love, as living life to the fullest, as living life 痛 and 快.
I am sorry.
XX, I will never say these words to you again.
I am sorry.
I am sorry.
Like water droplets breaking stone, XX has excelled all life lessons BiL can teach her. She would have made him cry like a baby if he was outside eavesdropping this time.
XM has different rapport with his other ‘BiL’. He loves them differently. He is bringing GCM his pills, I doubt as much as he loves BigBiL, he would risk giving him a chance to nag him, pinching his cheeks a lesson. He is not afraid of GCM at all, he pokes at him with amusement. XJS is much stricter with XM, for fear he would get into trouble. BiL wants to prepare XM as the man of the family, coercing him to grow up faster than he is ready. GCM is not aware of the fear, he has a laxer approach, having the luxury to be a rebellious rich boy himself. Here he is teaching XM how to clean a gun, essential to how to bear arms. BiL will not risk the danger of showing XM how to fire a gun ever, after weighing the pros and cons, whereas GCM must have a trust in XM’s judgment.
XM is a keen learner, and the boy is having fun picking up a new skill, a real toy, but from the face of GCM, he is urgently preparing XM to be the man of the family his way.
XX lost MaoMao for a while, he wanders off to an army vehicle, telling XX his name is not MaoMao, but that is what his Mom called him. He must be thinking this is the ride that takes him away from home, and it is a ride that could take him back to his Mom.
They discuss how to take care of MM, none of them have the time and space…except the Hu family. XX and XM shake their heads in unison at JF’s suggestion. They are not allowed to mention the word child at home and XM knows he would be the one taking the brute of the beating in XX’s place. XX comforts him, with ‘that person of our family’ present , ie XiaoGu, they should manage to ease the issue in.
They get the cooperation of XiuXiu as well, she tells MM she is XX and XM’s younger sister. MM cutely calls her MeiMei/younger sis.
XiuXiu must have given GCM a head’s up as they are setting the table. Grandmama is wondering why it is taking the twins so long coming home from the hospital. They must be very busy at work. They delegate GCM telling Grandmama MM’s name.
Grandmama I am hungry, I want to eat.
Lets eat first.
Their plan works, Grandmama could not give GCM a hard time nor give the twins a scolding in front of him, but not in her room after, sternly reminding them what they had promised her after PingOn’s passing. Dad also nags them they should think about their Sis first…as they hear Sis bursting out in joy in the courtyard,
PingOn! You are back!!!
Do you miss Mommy? Say Mommy!
GCM checks on XX, wanting to comfort her, worrying she would be scolded, as she pulls out the word cards she made with XM for PingOn. They made them themselves, hoping to teach PingOn characters when he is older. She can not bear burning them per Grandmama order.
He is gone… yet I still feel him in the house,
tagging behind me and XM,
saying in his baby gibberish Lil Aunt, UncleM.
GCM witnessed the toll on the family mourning the death of their young and it hit him so emotionally he calls his Father. This is also a moment he feels intensely through XX, through Sis, how you are living in the memory of your dear one. They never leave your memory. They are in the house, in the air you breathe, even when the physical body is gone, and he thought it would be less painful cutting himself and XX, out of each of their lives.
The same fire in the kitchen, where Grandmama orders them to burn every trace of PingOn, is now used to make 汽水肉 a local HuBei delicacy, the local meat custard, nourishing, easy the digest, best for kids, XX knows Grandmama is making is specially for MaoMao. Grandmama has not made it for a while and she is fussing she has lost her touch with a smile on her face.
But MM is sick. The child must be restless and nervous from the constant sounds of gun shots and bombings through the night. It is hard for Mom to put Sis to sleep, she has to give her a sleeping pill as she tensed up worrying of losing ‘PingOn’. XX will take MM to see a doctor at the hospital, even though it is no longer safe roaming by herself.
Mom suggests they pick a new name for MM, trying to get a sense if Grandmama is accepting MM as their own. Grandmama is frank she is worried about how long they can keep the child, knowing it would be too much trauma now that XJ thinks he is PingOn back from HanShu. They can not think too much but let fate take its course.
Dad is enjoying an afternoon with his chinese opera, just his dream comes true he has a future SiL appreciating the artistry of MeiLanFang with him.
Mr Mei is still one of the greatest Peking Opera artists in modern history to this day, but during wartime, his courage and honor of refusing to sing for the IJA, putting himself in exile and severe poverty is even better praised, especially by scholars such as Dad, who has the honor of enjoying Maestro Mei’s performance live at ChangSha just the year before the Fire burning down the Opera House…with no sight of it ever erected soon. Bliss, is short-lived. GCM savors the idyllic in this serene Hu courtyard, how he is too comfortable lingering is making him uneasy.
This is Mr. Mei performing a sonnet from Farewell my Concubine when he was in his 60s:
The blast is too close to home. Sis wakes up hysterical ‘PingOn’ is not around. GCM reassures her he would look for them. Grabbing his gun, he pats XM to stay home and take care of the family, it is not safe just leaving Dad as the only man in house, same exact words as BiL.
Please do not leave me, bigsis!
You will be minced meat instantaneously if you hurt the young lady.
The threats of GCM to the j soldier, of him never able to leave ChangSha is not effective in easing the tension. Cousin MH offers himself as the negotiator, he knows Japanese. He interned at a town close to where the assailant is from, he remembers the nice grandma cooking him saury…and the young man must miss the taste of saury from his hometown. (Cue: watch/rewatch Taste of Saury. War is never sweet for any side in the battle, even if home alive…as the losing country, hearing the upbeat Gunkan March years later is depressing of youth wasted.)
There is only a dead end, fighting the losing battle on dangerous turf.
XX takes a good look at GCM, she was sure she would never see this face again moments ago.
Graced by a bullet, they are tense and cautious knocking on their own door.
Still shaken by her close shave with death, XX takes a moment to compose herself, telling her family what happened, We ran into the japanese, I am lucky to have Cousin and GCM saving me.
Sis refuses to let go of PingOn from her embrace,
I am to blame for not keeping a good eye on my child.
Spring snow, soldiers are heard marching furiously down the street. GCM and XM are on alert.
Commander, it is me!
It is Mookie, I have no idea he is so chummy with XM, looks like GCM has no idea as well! GCM is almost frustrated with the boys hugging and fooling around. Mookie is here to escort GCM back to report for duty, he is urgently needed for strategic planning, regrouping their troops.
And a simple, I am leaving.
XX has a mouthful, urging him he has to redress his wound once every three days, he has torn it open earlier.
Sleep on the side, or else your wound….
Why are you laughing, smiling at me?
You are right. Always.
He is a happier man leaving for duty because he has all the more reasons to fight for what he has tasted, fearlessly now with her by his side. Every night sleeping on his side, he would remember her telling him so, knowing she is thinking of him too. Every time he redresses his wound…even the pain from freshly tearing it, is sweet. Even if it is a nightmare, feeling her on his mind, knowing she is experiencing the same, seeing her in front of him this moment, missing him already, like he is, is heartwarming. They are fighting the japs together. He can be of use to his country, and he can be a reason she lives, happy even if it hurts.
I will wait for you.
Torches are blazing, snow is falling, it’s hard to see in her tears, the flames, the cascading snowflakes like frost of tears left behind. The bittersweet of looking on him leaving her side mixes with proud of him fighting for the country so they can walk their streets hand in hand without gracing bullets, afraid to even knocking the door of their home.
I will be waiting for you, coming home.
GCM reports back to duty to an ecstatic General Fang. He cares about this fine young man personally, and a part of it is shrewdly the princeling was hurt under his watch, breaking the passive, formidable command from Mr Gu Senior.
Thank you for your concern, General.
I have been recovering very well, thanks to the care from my family.
All these smiles he can not contain, of the proud medal of war, the scar of his injury marking his service to his country, and saving his XX, being in love. General is putting in a persuasion on the home front, fondly remembering his wife nursing the scar on his face or else he would not be presentable a sight.
GCM chuckles like a little child at the happy banter, the happiest guy in the room. He jokes back without the lovely care of his FIANCEE and her family, he would still be lying on a bed this very moment.
You are such a lucky guy!
Soon! Very soon!
You are nothing but a man of your words, GCM!
Thank you, General!
Moving on an even more serious and personal business, GCM’s Father has called their base many times, pressuring for his son’s safe return to ChongQing. General asks for GCM’s own opinion. He must have a good read on the respectable, promising young man he has taken under his wing with and without the arrangement with his bigsis, knowing GCM would make a decision himself that would sing to his own wishes at heart, but he would not have to refuse Mr Gu Senior’s demand himself. He is the very smart savvy General he is, never losing focus on the big picture.
I am reporting to General I am not leaving ChangSha!
The general eyes are seriously full of pride for the young gun, he must be seeing a younger self.