The Best and The Worst

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.  – Tales of two Cities

I keep trying to beam to my older gen as I recite it in my head like a Rosary almost, last two weeks of my life.  This is my sincere eulogy to Grandpa and a spontaneous drama senseless spazz all-in-one.

I spent last two weeks mourning the death of Grandpa.  He was my only surviving Grandpa I married into, the only person I know whom had NEVER showed a whiff of foul mood nor gloom when his family is around, he would make the wittiest joke, play on words humming the cantopop with befitting cheesy lyrics over being the first in line after a long wait NOT getting eggtarts his offsprings are still giggling too after some 30 odd years. He had a perpetual smile on his face, ranging from a wide grin over every dumb dirty jokes his silly grandsons would say, to a chuckle when I scratch that sweet spot for him, smiling from the bottom of our heart is the best reaction of a man God has gifted us, he said.   Family gathered,  everyone of us at our most vulnerable, gone forever are the usual yearly Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year/Grandparents Anniversary whirlwind of crazily joyous neverending months of family reunions heightened with nothing but merry and cheers…emotions ran havoc, nerves raw, overtly sensitive about…each own feelings of grief, sorrow, longing, regrets, exacerbating into hurt and raw outbursts with no outlet but towards our closest kin.  Words said without filters, ‘damage is done.’ as Aunt1 bluntly ended a venting to me on Aunt3.

A drama one should never have to sit through, first hand: Mominlaw and her siblings silently feuding over insurmountable petty misunderstandings…sensibilities stretched bare, exhaustive from missing a Father they have known for 60+ years of their lives.

‘Three years… is not normal.  She needs help.’  Absofkingluting, as Aunt’s closest family should be most embracing to her and stop any criticizing of how she should be mourning her father, when the onslaught of her afresh the grief of losing her husband in a devastating battle with cancer three years ago.  Or how anyone should mourn while be sensitive and considerate to everyone else when we are out of cares to give, consumed by nothing but…grief.  We all see ourselves from Our own point of view and thus regard everything concerning amplified than it is. Our pain hurts more vividly first hand, our feelings are more vulnerable and needed more attention.

It is peculiar when we are actively in uncontrollable emotional pain, we lose our humility first.  Humility in the sense of ignorant to our self-servicing, the world is never centering around us, yet we egomaniacally trust ourselves as somehow omnipowerful even with guilt and grief.  The guilt of not doing enough, doing too much, never doubting our action would have alter outcomes, to the extreme of life-altering, feeling guilty aggravating Grandpa’s condition as an nonagenarian living with the myriads of health problem…stripping him of simplest human existence, a tear at a time as if witnessing naturally falling drop of water taken back by the windowsill during rain in rewind.  Spending time with Grandpa in his end days was witnessing human life completing the full circle… reverting to a ‘dust-less’ existence of what we are born with entering this world, gaining a soul and all the dear ones and love, leaving our mark but unable to take a speck of worldly posession, any ‘skills’ earned with us as we part this world. We are nothing, nothing without the love and care, then our parents, now his offspring. We were but a dough of flesh, not truly survivable, where a dearest soul grew out of, hopefully.

The grief admittedly triggers what I do not want to part with, life as it is, I lost that extra nudge of feeling good being a filial grandchild, the few times a year I am brought to happiest tears from the cutest humor, most romantic odes of affection towards Grandma waxing from Grandpa’s mouth in deep dementia.   It could be watching a tedious episode of potboiler Empress Ki, dragging on some typical MarySue dilemma even a dozing off Grandpa had enough of it and had to comment, geez I am much better at it with half my brain literally intact,

‘I made the best choice in life, picked the best wife the first instant my eyes set on her. ‘  Grandpa, a smug sparkle in his eyes, gloating in his best taste and foresight and happiness, staring at Grandma the clarity and tenderness always

‘…Why not me.  I could have done more.’  That, is my full of verve, forever the amazon optimistic proactive Aunt. The most common thing said when everyone is trying to comfort her is stop the ‘absurd’ guilt of blaming herself of not doing enough when hit by the worst of ‘fate’.  She blamed herself not having last meal with her Dad the night before, not picking up clues he had difficulty breathing or choking on mucus which was a regular occurance as he lost the muscle mass to cough up, not being by his side ‘helping’ his last moments.  We assume all of us would ask the obvious why me, why my dear one…not my superhumanly capable aunt.  We keep preaching she has been through more than anyone deserves and she did million folds what we thought ever possible taking care of Uncle at home the years he was palliative with his advancing brain cancer but it did not bring her any comfort, it heightened her own guilt of being a cause he is not by her side, she could have should have done another million and million folds of anything just so he would still be by her side.  It was under a lot of talking with Father, her faith and the gain of her closer to God that help her realizing she lacks humbleness thus begins her coping.  Being grief-striken, Aunt, this constant of my life is not as easily available, trapped in a distanced, nuanced numbness she has frankly admitted she will perhaps never be truly happy again.  She is better in the sense she is actively living life to the fullest, traveling, visiting friends and family, ballroom dancing, zumba-fu the day of the vigil, then the next day of funeral mass and wake , she will chatter enthusiastically the awesome of going to a GEM (canto popstarlet) concert, quite happy, happy enough yes, but she has accepted and is coping with never being the same, she said.  We cope with never having our coolest Aunt back, that in itself is self-servicing.   Her existence, in any shape or form should not be for other’s enjoyment.   When our feelings are freshly hurt (by her distancing), there is a gushing open wound, unmanageable pain, but how we react to the pain is our own reaction, the cause of suffering.  She is part of family, and family is part of us all, irreplaceable.

You would not find a more awful photoshop dummie than me, and hours after the sad news broke, I took up working on Grandpa’s portrait.  Pixels are blurred some more by tears and I find strength to continue at times… with Grandpa smiling in the photo. I smiled back at him smiling at me from the screen, feeling better, instantaneously.   Crying is still in bouts of hysterical and Hubs came hugging me and putting a bouquet of white tissues under my face, shielding tears and phlegm from his precious gaming keyboard of course while I pooped up an hour of work by him unintentionally moving my hand on mouse and I ended up chasing him, pinching, beating the shit out of him furious, with him screaming like a little girl.  I fixated on a pixel at a time, a visually tiny compartmentalization of grief, and it soothes me.  I zoomed out to take in Grandpa’s entire smile,  and it tings my sorrow with a calming…happiness, reacting to what we dread the most in life, missing a dearly departed.

A few days ago, hours after we just drove home 8 long hours in the most hideous torrents of ugliest hail, hugs and kisses and some sweetest smiles of sisters of decades shocked me most pleasantly as I facetime the cute older gen we were home ‘safe and sound’, worried sick, literally feeling queasy of I can’t take family drama no more please God have some mercy as I clicked dial.  Immediately I reacted, recording them being kissy, touchy and feely, hysterically funny abusing the silly family pug with duck pillows like what I imagined them as little girls…next time they lose their shit, that WILL save me hours on social media faking horribly as lousiest chicken soup writer.  Grandma in greatest mood asking my opinion of picking out a silk scarf for a symphony orchestra they are heading out to,  from the dozens she got from her handsomest grandchildren (her words), and picked Hubs’, whom she joked was gifted to her randomly by a pretty boy too 小鮮肉/youngfreshmeat for her, giggling at herself.  Grandpa, a most prolific editor/writer/screenwriter/film critic with literally close to a hundred pen names would LURVE to pen such script in his implish glee.

Days back home, I am refusing to unpack, and I bite when hubs try to, hollered at him if he could not find underwear I do not even want to hear a drawer opening and closing, all i had the practicality for was ordered new pairs next day shipping.  Let me mourn, with my messy shrine of reminders, belongings holding me up presentable as I paid my respects touching Grandpa looking as if he was just asleep, with a smile on his face.

And the days of bereavement home alone, I spent entirely on marathoning a drama: Of Monks and Masters/ 侠僧探案传奇.  Any other past years, drama watching would be too obvious my comfort.  Not 2015.  This is my BEST of 2015 meaning zilch because I could not remember watching anything passionately as irrevocably worthy.  I made ~20 blog posts last year, when I could not imagine any volume less of nonsense weekly a few years ago, useless mourning I have lost a venue dumping whatever to my heart’s desire.  Dearly departed is the emo crazy drama addict fangirl, futile holding on what’s gone.  I am no longer an addict, which is good when I do not waste my time irrationally craving the next high; horrible when I need a nostalgic comfort.  I still have opinions, 99% caustic, on what I watched, no one should hear about on what they are crazily loving.  But hear me out, at this trying time.

If i was not too confident in my judgment having crazily high expectation of Nirvana in Fire, anticipating it for 18+ months and the subsequent cesspit of disappointments it served me, I would not go out of the way desperately seeking.  I asked, poked around and Of Monks and Masters seems exactly my gorgeous cuppa cinematography wise, in a genre i am most futilely lenient towards: wuxia, the archaic lore of era past. I gave it an ep.  Did it wow me thoroughly, not really.   But it met my requirement with the most poetic camera work, flawlessly thoughtful frame to frame, a master of cinematography showing all his worth.  Nothing offended me, especially not the writing, that is all I need when grieving how much NiF sucked in that alone.  And why did a drama chingu like Timescout picked it out of my relentless nonsense this drama is what she wants to watch, when I did not read about her watching much C period dramas (not that much is worth her venturing), is beyond me, no way this will get subbed.  I assumed this is a story about a naive, sheltered monk dragged into the evils of men with the detective work and unable to emerge from the entanglements of being a human and ignorantly without the agency to handle the angst.  I guessed the angst must be him falling in love, losing his love, consumed by revenge and thus turn ‘dark’ per doctrine of Shaolin the Buddhist wuxia sect.  This is still the predictable trajectory along with an ‘evil’ puissant Yasha/scary demigod sect conspiring against the imperial court and a dash of political intrigue humming throughout.  But this is a jawdropping job of drama construction seamless a 9.5 ep of intriguing enough exposition not fully aware by us to a grandest explosive climatic ending.  I was doubting it could turn extremely interesting and I was so very wrong.  Timescout braved on, and in raves, her opinion aligning with weirdo!me often.  While I had a hard time finishing a movie length 90+ min episode in one sitting, she did FIVE.  Another day transpired, she FINISHED it speechless, rapturous.  Needless to say that piqued my interest.   But with life blindsiding me, all’s forgotten.

At the wake, random chitchatting over food and my older gen ladies out of the blue started spazzing about how extremely beautiful HuGe is and hence NiF is a must-see y’all,  Broinlaw chatted to shallowme about how natural and refreshing and tastefully nuanced the costume and makeup and beautiful the ladies are in NiF…and still proud of self I held my caustic tongue numb and strong.  Things work in weird ways, the serendipity/fate even how we meet and fall in love with a drama.  Without the annoying instigating of anything NiF,  my state of mind, nor the leisure, the mood to fall back to my guilty pleasures, I would not be here, preaching how unbeknownst drama is a form of faith, from a faithful, miraculously guiding me through how to cope with fresh grief.

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A buddha statue never demands to be dripped in gold yet we impose our respect with what we consider lavish and reverenced on it.   There is not a thing from the beginning. Where can dust collect?

But is dust, that is living with flaws and suffering…horrible/bad/toxic no good can attain from?

We start the tale set in mid Northern Song dynasty, a time of pacifist reforms, neo-Confucianism, cultural renaissance, obsessions of superstitions, myths and folklore, alongside a preference of Taoist infusion of Buddhism, brewing critiques of traditional Buddhism, remnants fr Tang dynasty as being too unattainable of a foreign origin when the more ‘down to earth’ ‘into the world’ Taoist approach with an intimacy to the Chinese cultural roots and own ancestry gained traction.  Early emperors are intellectuals inspired with the rhetoric of diplomacy overruling military assertion, expanding the bureaucracy/scholarly gentry rule.  It was a prosperous peaceful time under Emperor RenZong, also planting the seeds of its downfall in another few emperors.  RenZong was the father of the two older Princes mentioned in story, one of which was this tale’s ruling emperor lit by shadows.  The real legendary Justice Bao was a civil servant during RenZong’s reign.  Imo the good Song emperors did rule with gradients of kindness, uprightness and humility, thus lacking shrewdness, caution against neighboring threats on the prowl, along with the inner turmoil of a culture of corruption festered by a overgrowing, domineering bureaucracy.

We meet our Hero Li ShaoBai/李少白, a Shaolin disciple/’monk’ not in the strictest sense, as a hermit, swindler stereotype of a word reader.  He is a 俗家弟子, a ‘commoner’ disciple apprenticing under the revered ShaoLin Abbot, in this case one of the five greatest wuxia masters/leaders in the wulin/fraternity guild of martial artists who is like a father to him.  Commoner disciples are allowed laxer liberties, ShaoBai has his hair/threads of entanglement of human sufferings intact, indulges in booze and meats which is a freedom oneself chooses to pay, dampening path to enlightenment in which asceticism, purest in heart, simplest in purpose is considered the only right Way Seeing Buddha.

ShaoBai enjoys a dabble in the Red Dust/Buddhism’s view of the illusory materialistic world, a dream of suffering mortals should awaken from.  Red Dust is literally painting the visual of the bustling life peddling on the dirt roads, chasing money, name, fortune, the entanglements of life, dust stirred up shrouding the air, forming a red tinted glow engrossing everyone as the sun set after a day of labor.  He roams the monastery and the village, a rarest privilege skipping the well known tradition of the almost impossible challenge passing the 18 bronzemen safeguarding at the gate taking the descend, proving worthy to endure tribulations of the ordinary world.  Curiously ShaoBai is exempt from the test, we are impressed with his capable wuxia skills off the bat, hinting on knowledge of many sacred wuxia mantras Shaolin Abbot will only pass on to the One.  It is in hindsight very telling his adoptive father figure, the Abbot, entrusting ShaoBai to Detective Dee to exonerate any Shaolin’s involvement in the first mystery assigned thus luring, dragging him into the mortal world where the assailant, with ShaoBai being an early suspect, must possess a rare Shaolin wuxia skill in order to conduct a locked room murder. 

Fortune telling on strangers with a word of his/her choice is far from an honorary vocation, it is simply ShaoBai’s means to immerse in human stories/sufferings of patrons from the confident emotional distance, professionalism of a promising enlightened Buddhist disciple.  He is an orphan, with very little worldly possession to ‘gather dust’ thus cause suffering. A Chinese/Buddhist saying of enlightenment is 看破红尘, piercing through the red dust, google likes the translation of disillusioned.  In a simple sense this is to be compassionate and nonjudgmental to everything and everyone, to forgive and forget so anguish, hatred, despair, your reaction towards the transient can not fester and thus free your soul to enlightenment.  He would listen to life stories of strangers sating his passionate curiosity, assured he would be abstained from the human experience himself.  He has bright fascination about the human condition as a bridge in between, asserting nuggets of Buddhist wisdom, honoring the dogma he is selectively abiding to, yet skirting around the realms as a maverick monk.  But once he steps deeper into the Red Dust, trappings stick as friendships, comrades, a certain special lady enters his life.  When it is shaping up a darker personal tale of his own he is merely a pawn in, set in motion by forces unknown, spiraling out of his control, he learns ‘too much’ firsthand about living, or the Buddhist view: living is suffering, but suffering has a reason, is impermanent, and intrinsic to being an ordinary man, wrung through nothing but the usual, treacherous way.

Detective Dee BaFang/狄八方 is sharply wading his way, his living, squarely in the Red Dust in his various crimson uniforms.  Poised, cool, smart, experienced, successful and getting more so ascending the bureaucracy of civil service with each case.  He introduces himself to us in a remark he is a man in his 40s, whom according to teachings of Confucius, ‘…an age when a man is able to judge right from wrong without vacillation.  Yet my work in the investigative bureau requires doubting everything an instinct, a habit.’
At first glance I thought his name implies he is on the alert of ‘all 8 ordinates’ well-prepared of all the nefarious looming, now I am optimistically praying I could take a word play on his name as 敌八方 ‘able to fight it all’.

I assumed his relentless calls for ShaoBai’s aid is crucial, fresh keen eyes of a wise outsider breaking his old detective habits, but how little I expected, how glorious a mindfeast I am treated to.  I bow to you, Writer.

Dee is more than just a civil servant detective, he reports to, gathers intelligence for some higher boss in finery of nobility with a guarded wariness.   There is a meticulously organized sect Yasha Clan, committing murders, gaining clout, infiltrating all aspects of society even within the imperial court as each episode progresses.  It is not long we are aware we know less of him than he could let out.  Same with heroine 赵菱儿/ Zhao LingEr, a feisty apprentice of the Master of Drugs/ 毒王, another one of the five greats, who is seemingly just a simple girl enamored by hero.  The character 毒 in wuxia usually leans more towards poisons as weaponry, to cause lethal harm, any remedy in excess, when used unsuitably is a poison.  In a greyer philosophical context I prefer pharmakon/drug, a harm+benefit, good+bad, where a cure, a most lethal venom, the life-affirming ‘remedy’ can all concoct into one ultimate heartbreaking philter, the cause of bittersweet euphoria in love, and more unmentionable sufferings than…death.

This is a drama that has moments of incredible brilliance, often the standard cliched of revenge and karma for almost the entirety until everything wraps up in the most memorable astounding ending as the gloves come off, when it questions every conceptual intuition, habits, definition of simplest antonyms: good/evil, right/wrong, blessing/suffering, Yasha(Evil)/Buddha…all meshed up in dichotomy of good and evil, right and wrong, blessing and suffering, the ecstasy and the endless suffering of love.

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This is the last moment we saw of our hero laughing maniacally after shedding a tear.  It could be utmost despair, rapture, mourning, longing, madness, relief, euphoria, pain and suffering…

I think the big danger of madness is not madness itself, but the habit of madness…I could choose madness and spend my whole life without working, doing nothing, pretending to be mad.  It was a very strong temptation..  -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

As a monk, ShaoBai would have considered his greatest purpose in life in doing good, helping the needy, soothing human suffering a word, a man, a time, as fate arranges whomever passing by his word reader stall, while progressing leisurely on his path of enlightenment, leading a life agreeable enough with the Way of Buddha.   At the end of this journey he has lived a full life like any tragic hero, he had loved, he had family, he has an unforeseeable role to play in society, in history he is forced into against his will.  He laments the drowning, losing old ignorant self in the miasma of red dust, there is no way back unscathed but who can say definitively one could not still do good in darkness when it triggers a yearning of light even more desperate.   From a trapped pawn, he might have awaken with all the chess pieces in his hand the Grandmaster, a new freedom as if fate is in his hands where he no longer has to question good or bad, evil or the Way.

This is the unique drama that spoilers of any kind will irrevocably ruin it, so not worth it for such rarity.  I am up for any discussions in comments,  I have lots to gush!

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45 thoughts on “The Best and The Worst

      1. I tried this monk and detective show you talked about here and I confirm there no other cinematography like that this year. This is absolutely Off the chain ! Wowww ! And the best thing is the lead actor is LJK little twin brother this is no joke eh 😮 ! What is his name ? Really even body language is the same ! Too bad there is no subtitle so I can’t understand therefore I stopped 😦

          1. Still I watched the whole epi 1 yesterday and I can’t help bow in front of all this badassery. The cinematography is soo natural it is great. It gives me this nazo no tenkousei feeling how for such a scifi theme the drama maker was intelligent enough to not fall into dramatic execution of the show nor making the actor act too much. On the contrary all interractions were natural, not too much background soundtrack, cinematography is natural etc… for this wuxia this is the same. I am impressed :). I will keep watching. Have you got the name of the lead male actor. I hope there is no romance in the drama. I mean the heroine is badass but on a shallow note her aura does not wow me. A Crystal Liu in a “The Four” type of girl would have elevated the heroine persona for me because . I don’t like heroines who ask too much for hero attention.

            1. Actor playing hero is Han Shu/韓朔. I couldn’t stand a thing about the Four myself so i doubt i could share your fondness of Crystal Liu in it, but I’ve heard her character was originally written as a male.

              ‘Heroine’ does not bother me at all, i didnt see her as pestering hero, begging for his attention etc esp not in a romantic sense where you are at. She just plays at first a suspect but before long aids ShaoBai and DetectiveDee competently right away. She does not play a very huge part in the middling eps but her significance in story grows tremendously towards the end i doubt any audience wants to part with her. Not saying the actress is perfection, but she suits the role well enough and wuxia heroines need not be of one mold for me, nor superbly likeable.

              1. I started loving Crystal in there 🙂 I love my female characters Mighty cold without being dead (dead like the way she was in ROTCH), intelligent and no clinging to hero and badass. Thank you for the actor name 🙂 and Happy New Year !

                  1. Okayyy ! I guess no sub makes me hard for me to understand/relate to her and her action. Now you explain it like this I think I can give her a chance (character not too prominent and het storyline being something else than following hero’s every steps). The actress I am indifferent to her since I don’t know her just was iffy on her actions in ep 2 :). Thank you for the explaination 😀 . I will watch epi 3 today

  1. Dear Chingu! Your eulogy for your gramps had me in tears. You painted such a vivid picture of him and what the world feels like when he is no longer there. My own grandparents are long gone and though I still have both of my parents, their generation has mostly passed on as well. Yet, life goes on for the rest of us. Take care…

    Of Monks and Masters still hasn’t left me. It sneaks into my thoughts when I least expect, some totally unrelated thoughtprocess suddenly hijacked by a scene, a piece of music. I loved that I was able to find new nuggets of info, new insights into the world of this drama, in the post. And I’ve read it several times now. 🙂 I’m still rather surprised how much I was able to garner just by relying on visuals only. Gosh, now I’m dying to know what they sad in the last epi. All those conversations! Did the Yasha people think ShaoBai would join them? Somehow it felt like he pawned them all in the end. That last epi is one of the best endings I’ve ever come across. My heart was hurting by the end of it, yet it all felt so right.

    1. Hugs, your kind words soothe!

      ***SPOILERS***

      I am still dumbfounded by the ending in the best way! The entire plot was set in motion before ShaoBai was born… Emperor RenZhong shouldve picked his heir in Prince Qi, his son with the empress, but drama happened he picked a prince of a lesser lineage when Prince Qi went missing, of course PrinceQi reappeared after the ascension, had to take refuge at Shaolin ( an too obvious threat to his new emperor bro) apprenticing alongside Shaobai’s now SiFu, the revered Abbot.

      Legend in the drama has it Prince Qi, then assumed identity as a monk, was banished from Shaolin because of his affair with ShaoBai’s mom, and had to pass the gruelling 18 bronzemen challenge, which he somehow did and vanished. He is the bigboss of Yasha, that is ShaoBai is his son, every turn of events is Yasha’s manipulation grooming ShaoBai to assume the throne irrevocably, including stripping him of all his emotional ‘baggage’ esp LingEr (espesp when she is also a princess, her Dad is ShaoBai’s blood uncle. )

      If we are convinced, like i am assuming ShaoBai did at the very end where his fatherlike figure Shaolin SiFu is perhaps actively involved hatching up this giant plot of using him to assert influence in the Imperial court, gaining clout in retaining Buddhism’s tarnished power as the faith of the populace… by aiding ShaoBai to regain the throne which in his Dad/PrinceQi pov was robbed from him and rightfully his son’s, his Dad had been the mastermind behind murders/crimes he had been investigating, in essence murdered his love as well by sacrificing her to save him… that would mess up anyone’s mind big time. However, through this journey/manipulation… ShaoBai did acquire skills to become the most viable/fit/good for country emperor.

      1. Happy New Year, me friend! 🙂

        Thank you kindly for all the background info on ShaoBai’s lineage. I knew Big Yasha was his father but I wasn’t sure how Daddy was related to the royal family. So this Prince Qi would be Zhao Xi, Prince of Qiao of real history then? And the Emperor that croaked at the end is Yinzhong, the sickly son of a relative that Renzhong adopted to be the Crown Prince?

        Ah, so SB and LingEr are cousins. I somehow got her father’s name and Big Yasha’s name mixed up and was sorta wondering if they were half siblings, which would have made this too kdrama, LOL! Did she know who SB is from the beginning? Somehow their meeting didn’t seem arranged, so… But her Master is part of Yasha and she didn’t die, like they wanted SB to believe. Btw. did the good Detective and the Crown Prince know too?

        Right now I’m at ep 3 of my rewatch and I’m still not ff’ing at all, not even the parts that are mostly talk and there are a lot of those. The cinematography is just SO grand and I find myself basking in the glory. And trying to spot any visual clues, heh.

        I love the intricate storyline, it’s so rare to get an intelligent script that keeps you guessing and holds your interest all the way through. It’s sort of ironic how both Yasha and the Abbot wanted SB to gain the throne and for pretty similar reasons. It’s just that SB opted out from being a pawn for anyone. I might be wrong on this but it seemed like it was the death of Long Jiu that finally pushed him over the edge, only in a way no-one expected. All those shocked looks when he took that final step. SB was both thoroughly pissed off and as zen as they come. Grand.

        Also, the fight with Dee… OMG, I legit had tears in my eyes. Did the Smiling Assassin and the Fan Lady kill Dee? He wasn’t dead when they cut off at SB loosing consiousness.

        1. Yesyesyes, i believe PrinceQi/SBDaddy was loosely based on Zhao Xi/Prince Qiao. And u r right on YinZhong as well.

          My read is LingEr was a pawn and knew it. Imo her meeting w SB was arranged, and her role had always been to save SB fr poisons any means necessary, no way w her upbringing be some random happenstance under Yasha’s nose of chance meeting someone as crucial as SB in the grand scheme. I bet she was warned by her Master against falling for SB herself but do lure him, and it might be her failing to reign in her heart that her Master did not save her consciousness. it was so heartbreaking witnessing her as a zombie giving SB a blankest look at the v end.

          I think the Crown Prince and Detective knew for some time before we start doubting them but not at first meeting.

          It is the death of LongJiu, compounded by LingEr sacrificing, followed by Det ‘missing’ (i am not as optimistic of his fate tbh, the talent pool of Yasha assassins is vast and deep lesigh and DetDee was too much in the know plus working 4 crown prince, even if those 2 didnt finish him, masterpoison would not allow him alive)

          1. I watched parts of the 1st ep again and it still seems like LingEr and SB meeting was coincidental. To me it looked like she came to the inn to find (beat the crap out of) Long Jiu for pinching her money. Unless that theft was arranged as well. But then… you never know with Yasha. From then on she was obviously the ‘inside man’ and designated bodyguard for SB. Not that he was all that eager to have her around in the beginning, heh. Btw. loved how he gave the cold shoulder to Det Dee as well but had to come back when he got the Abbot’s ordes. Abbot did know his unruly diciple would scram if left to his own devices.

            Watched the ending again as well and I don’t think LingEr was made a zombie, she was clearly crying. I think she was as shocked as everyone else about the turn of events.

            Any idea what was Master Poison’s deal? I bet he had his own agenda, which just might have aligned with Yasha for the time being.

            1. Butbutbut given the fact she must be given orders from her MasterPoison to fetch some exquisite herbs (rewatched scene her shopping list is so long the pharmacist teased her for buying up all the herbs to be some well known wuxia sorceress herb master and she is playing with those precious packages like jenga (which sounds like 真假/real and fake) blocks, playfully buying time if you ask me) thus catching the eye of LongJiu at that pharmacy shopping for perfume…because he is the only one of the quad at that very moment eyeing the MoLungUrn already and prepping for the corpse stench while tomb raiding…AND she is equipped with a ‘traveler’s check’ note of an obscene amount of 800,000teals from the Death Bank, only one is issued at end of day with the dead banker’s thumb print… who would carry that around town and for buying herbs?! Does not add up to coincidence to me, but an elaborate scheme. That note was to bait LongJiu no fail whatsoever and Yasha knew by that time mid ep SB must’ve got to the secrets of MoLung Urn which LongJiu is after…LJ would be a person of interest anyway, but with that note entangling him and LingEr with LE being the ‘rightful’ owner of note just understandably fetching it back from snatcher…all mindful of piquing SB’s interest numerous folds.

              It was very cute how the comradarie developed quite instantaneously btn SB and DetDee. Dee prompted by Abbot looked for SB, wittily asked SB to read his surname ‘Dee’ (ie Dog + Fire) in the context of SHAOBAI’s own fortune that day. In his face! lol Like all common folks then, esp with a robin hood complex, anyone working for the corrupted gov = doggie and immediately disdained upon, not to any surprise of Dee. With the Abbot’s support, SB could not escape his ‘fate’. During their first meeting Dee has not stopped staring intently with his sparkling warm eyes right into SB’s globes. Along the CN belief how we appear is always a projection of our heart within, this is obviously a wise, upright, honorable guy SB is not missing while jabbing. SB assumed Dee was some useless wage/bribe earning weasel but before long the no nonsense Dee opened his eyes to the fascinating world of intricate detective work which SB is obsessed by mid ep speaking out of his enthusiasm in the field. He even told LingEr in some chitchat beginning of e3 he has been reading up loads on the subject of crime solving and deduction, an immersed fanboy he is.

              Perhaps I should not use the word zombie, when discussing with other CN fans they use the term 活死人/living dead and in CN folklore it is slightly different as zombie…only consciousness/human feelings are absent, ie all involuntary functions are intact, she is crying without the connection of her emotions, nor agency to process why and will simple obey all orders of her master without a thought of her own. A ‘residual’ tear is shred for the past selves of SB and herself…but she left the building without another lingering.

              MasterPoison is the right hand man of Yasha/PrinceQi, whom must’ve promised him some ludicrous deals/posts if the coup comes to fruition as far as I can recall, but there is a snippet talking about their past I could not rem but vaguely… must rewatch!

              That is why SB is Awesome. If he just goes along with DaddyYasha’s plan and cease the throne, however rightfully theirs, it is still a coup. Now that he has snuffed Yasha out, the ‘rebel leader’ his Dad dead in a fight with him, and the newly annointed prince spitting blood sickly and will die in no time, his lineage is out, he would be BEGGED to take the throne with all the most proper credentials irrevocably.

              I will rewatch 3, 4 and get back to you and Gnanmien.

  2. Hello Mookie who is the girl in episode 2 ? What is the main arc of the episode ?
    I can’t stand the lead female character. Drama is perfect. Everything is striking but why why why make the heroine such a “sasaeng fanatic-like” to hero character like this ? 😦 . Her actions in episode 2 annoy me. She can fight and disguise yes but Why not make her a subtletly elegant aiming to become better than hero at detective skills character ? And it makes her bump into hero often creating competitions between them and making her up her games by facing/resolving difficulties on her own ? Or a Crystal Liu in “the four” character to match hero ? Or even an elegant cold assassin escaping/ bonding with hero would add more spice… sigh. Drama is too good to leave even watching raw 😦 just tired of annoying cdrama female leads. This year I only liked Jiang Xin, Guo Zhen ni, Liu Tao female characters 😦 which is better than previous years I guess

    1. The main arc of ep2 is a continuation of that treasure urn the three bestie partners of the bank were fighting over. The urn has the secret to a treasure trove in the tomb of PrinceFu. ShaoBai bought the urn to the monastery where tomb is. Of course he becomes the target of all tomb raider including the lady u mentioned whom poisoned SB, and LingEr saved him.

      The lady is the daughter of the ghost and the monk ShaoBai is looking for. Monk is actually the son of the master architect building the tomb, the treasure urn’s rightful owner. Master architect was seduced by the daughter of an ambitious general nefariously scheming with the Tibetan empire, eying the treasure and in order to save his own life he killed the general’s family, his wife disappeared, daughter kidnapped by Tibetian monks, now back for revenge without knowing he, the monk, is her father.

      He uses his own life to exchange for his daughter’s, enters the grave w SB and the Tibetian monks, but pushing SB out before destroying the grave killing himself and the monks, bringing the secret of the treasure to his grave. Of course this is a scheme of Yasha to snuff out the son of the master architect w the knowledge to the treasure.

      1. Thank you ! I like the episode even more and your comments make me see the lead girl on another light 🙂 . This drama is a pleasant Wuxia surprise and hopefully it and its actors got attention of Chinese viewers

      2. So that’s what the urn/incence burner is for. Basically it’s the bait to get SB to find the monk. Yasha sure had some elaborate schemes going on. The urn was the item they pinched from the lending house’s secret wault, right? Wait, didn’t it get broken… SB did put it back together then.

        I guessed some of the stuff about the monk and the tomb, thanks to crappy google translate combined with running every sentence of the episode description through an online dictionary. XD Was it the monk who killed the general + general’s family or his father? The daughter obviously thought it was him. Neither knew the mother was alive. Any idea why Yasha was so bent on burying any info about the tomb? Did it contain some super sikrit martial arts knowledge that only they possess?

        I’m surmising The Scarface aka master of many disguises faked his own death to get out of prison. Dude was pretty impressive, especially when it came to masking his face. He was also slightly unhinged. Come to think of it, more or less all of the Yasha recruits (we saw) were. They also tended to have a serious crudge (mostly legit) against the people that were targeted. Yup, Yasha rekry had some skills.

        1. Yes, the Mo Dragon Urn was what Scar(many)faces was after in one. It did get broken, coz peeps assumed the treasure map was hidden inside, but SB was the only one seeing it as what it should purely be: an urn for burning incense paying respect to the dead… and the urn was made by a thermo-emissive material that will lit up showing the real treasure of tomb: antidotal tactics to a weapon of mass destruction. Way back when, Master architect Mo (must be hinting on Mozi…philosopher/preacher of universal love and firm stance against war and violence) alongside GungSun of opposing views (nudging on Sun Wu, military strategist most famous for Art of War… whom Song Shenzhong 神(lit. god)宗 – ie whom SB should be modeled after as emperor timelinewise – was a fanboy, Shenzhong was also an advocate for New Reforms, headbent on improving the welfare of peasantry and impoverished) were trusted aides to the founding Song emperor, asking them both to invent a powerful weapon each. GungSun made a military killing machine and Mo offered a good old plough instead, pleading the emperor to put the peasants’ livelihood first. Mo was then sentenced to death if not taken in by PrinceFu , thus at Prince’s death, MasterMo offered himself as a human sacrifice after putting his all in designing tomb with its ‘treasure’ within, the tactics to beat that GungSun killing machine. But many thought MasterMo(Dad of e2Monk) must have turpid agenda on the fortune of PrinceFu…maternal grandpa of revengeful masked lady was one. That’s why he took in MasterMo’s son like his stepson when he was politically marginalized with his family’s antiwar sentiments, blackmail Mo for the rumored ‘treasure map’ of his Dad with his out of wedlock frolicking with daughter, refusing to let them marry even with child unless he showed him inside tomb. By then MonkMo knew of ‘Dadinlaw’s’ liasons with the Tibetian monks planning a coup against the young house of Song, thus he killed them out of civil duty somewhat. Daughter was brainwashed by the enemy, those Tibetian monks working for Yasha whom snatched her from Mom when she was 2 days old. But the mass killing of the village folks was ordered by emperor then? Coz of their connection to MasterMo? (Cant rem clearly)

          I need a rewatch but hinge is Yasha must have a hold on that GungSun weapondry, therefore wanna destroy this tactics mantra antidote hidden inside the tomb, which begs someone special like SB to get close to Monk (apprenticed under that hermit caveman Shaolin Master the same gen as Abbot and in essence an eccentric Uncle to SB), of course this is also a test to see how capable SB is, the start of Yasha’s grooming.

      1. Hello 😀 . I finished episode 3 . Because of work I will start episode 4 now. God this drama is so gripping. The final fight scene in episode 3 gave me goosebumps. Since there is no subtitle I was confused why at a moment when the episode culprit was fighting the clan master who raped/killed the woman (I think she was his sister) because he wanted to revenge why at this moment the other two men started fighting the clan master and after that one of them went to fight against the episode culprit and the older one kept fighting against the house master. Also the way the culprit died at the end :/ . Even watching raw sometimes by following their actions I can get the storyarc . And thank you for explaining the central storyline. The show is perfectly filmed and no annoying constant background soundtrack. Silence/and calm are best. I almost cried when the monk sacrificed in episode 2. Here also final fight scene was gripping. I like that the other characters are sometimes better fighter than the hero and fighting scenes don’t center around him. It is original. He is of course the central character of the drama but he is not “the best of best”. I read your posts but I feel the thief role is not as complex as the other leads. I find him somehow interesting. They all are especially detective Dee who shine also. I like the girl better now. The actress look reminds me of SNSD’s Tiffany. I like her better when she is in lethal/poisoning mode. I can feel in episode 3 that behind that hyper young girl mask she can be seriously lethal. Sorry for talking too much but how is the reception in China ? 🙂 And did I say Han Shu is Lee Jun Gi twin ? I can’t help but be dumbfounded by their ressemblance 😮

        1. Yup he truly is a LJG facetwin, that’s my first impression of him too. Just that I find his acting style more my thing ie less OTT.

          Episode 3:

          It wasnt that clear why LingEr tagged along SB to the banquet at White Horse Mansion, in a flashback in 3, he asked DetDee to come along but he refused.
          BiaoJu provided logistics service in the old days, crucial in wulin as they are paid handsomely to deliver most precious cargo of all sorts, no question asked and carrying such business the CN way curtailed you befriending both the law and lawless, eg the masters of all wulin sects, and boss of such service is often a wuxia master himself in order to safeguard his business.

          White (Bai, the surname of the fam, is lit white) Horse Express is the leader of the logistics industry, a lavish event of who’s who gathered to give face to the loud and popular character when he is marrying off his youngest daughter and SB is the rep for Shaolin. During the rehearsal dinner, a very ludicrous delivery falls on BossBai’s lap, that of 2 spirit tablets of his inlaws long dead! Murders of guests followed, innocent bystander disciples of Boss’ brother, a master of a wuxia sect of his own. Before long the secluded mansion is surrounded by the ruthless murdering sect 刑天门/ Punishment from Heaven Sect and everyone entrapped.

          The bride to be is stabbed to death the next morning, weapon used is a dagger BossBai gave a servant/disciple, lover of daughter, SB overheard the night before while in induced diarrhea ‘thanks’ to LingEr, revenging against him suspicious of her having sth to do with the mass murders.

          SB is asked to investigate, led through a secret passage only a few knew out of complex…his good detective work on 2 hard cases lately did not miss the ear of BossBai, who is asking SB to look for his estranged SoninLaw, the greatest suspect. SB found out the dark secret of Bai family: the older daughter was not an innocent on wedding night, and SiL was heartbroken thinking she had lover. BossBai then did the unthinkable, made up SiL’s rich prominent family was hit by plague and forced daughter to be back home….while he murdered them all just to shut them up, protecting virtue of daughter. SiL did not die, he was taken in by Yasha who taught him the Shaolin wuxia SB could catch right away. Through the years SiL had become a prominent member of the 刑天门, with that white hair patched eye master the strongest fighter of sect. The guests all fled mansion for their lives, which BossBai must be gambling on good will they would help saving his life in such dire time. BossBai is left to his own demise and his sickly son is scoffing in glee. SB deduced it must be insider job and younger daughter bride died of shame being a rape victim as well…the rapist being housekeeper. BossBai suspected it was sickly son’s doing. This is the revenge housekeeper had been planning before Bai’s daughters were born. His love of his life, his wife was brutally raped by Bai when she was with his child…ie the sickly son of Bai is actually son of housekeeper unbeknownst to the wayward son. He raped the daughter, and caused the rift between Bai and the prominent SiL family planting the seed of revenge. He repeat the crime with the younger daughter and BossBai repeated his sin murdering his soninlaw to be’s family. Vicious cycle repeats itself. Housekeeper is using a Shaolin wuxia Golden Bell Protection, where his inner qi can make him invincible to weapons except weak point at top of head…and to my shock it is SB shouting such tactic out. Young ‘Bai’ only saw housekeeper killing his ‘Dad’ thus killed his real father in rage. BossBai has been obsessed with Buddhism teaching last years, hoping the teaching and his remorse can rescue his family from his karma, but like Yasha (feared ugly demon converted to Buddhist disciples, guards of Buddha…still feared and disdained by all). Imo at the end of that fight, SB is sympathetic towards BossBai, being on a devoted path to enlightenment, he could not help but hold dear to Buddhism able to savage BossBai’s sins. Tragic, but cant say karma is not served for everyone.

          1. Thank you 😮 OMG it is sooo tragic !!! Like a shakespearian play 😦 His own Kid killed him. That’s why SB screamed when sickly boy went on housekeeper shoulder before killing him… sigh
            Anyway still watching epi 4 and I find Gambling girl pretty and sexy with her manner. The way she looks at SB as if she wants to seduce him 😀 . I was shocked when I saw the big bald guy dead and SB had the same reaction as me. Good acting from HS who showed how troubled and shocked SB was by seeing someone he really know die. I see he had some sympathy for him 😦 . I like the guy acting the thief. His situations make me laugh sometimes hope to see him more. I like the gambling girl. At some angles she reminds me of Zhou xun. Thank you again for your explaination 🙂 this is what happen when one can’t speak one language xp . When I was looking for Han Shu on Youtube I saw he did one drama before set during Qing dynasty this time and it seems the cinematography is same like this drama and there are more episodes. He is not well famous in China a bit like Jiang Xin years ago or Guo Zhen ni. And There is a japanese character in episode 4 too ! What is his role there ?
            Xiexie nie

            1. The actress has a nickname of Lil ZhouXun 🙂 Keen eyes you have.

              I did check out drama 大清盐商 you mentioned not long ago, Han played a rich spoiled brat in it, not too memorable a character. I liked the drama but lots have complained the pace is toooo slow for taste. It has exquisite, period authentic taste and after NiF, that is all I ask to wash eyes with lol.

              Please refer to my latest reply to Timescout on e4, it is as good as it gets an episode! 😀

                1. I lust over the visual of that Qing drama, actually if you are looking out for other works with HanShu in it, 生死线 is superb if the subject matter does not scare you (Devastatin! War! Drama!)

                  I have also seen him briefly in 镖门 as a Qing prince. 镖门 for some reason did not held me hostage and I dropped it after a few eps, but it is a solid drama nonetheless, even with some slight flaws (begs better pace, and better actresses). It has spot on cinematography too, I should have stuck with it longer just on that alone if I had the time/mood. WallaceH was substantially better there than his recent popular hits like HQG or LMIYD

  3. Done with episodes 3-4. Gosh, this is even better as a re-watch (how rare!), as I now have a more rounded idea about the central theme. Knowing how dark things will eventually go, I’m quite happy about the small nuggets of levity we get in the beginning. SB still smiles, occasionally but that sunny disposition is disappearing at an alarming rate.

    Ep 3 was rather confusing the first time around, probably because there were two different antagonists in the mix, but as I did some ‘translating’ I was now more on the know. I guess the translation of the Chinese tittle is something like White Horse Escort Agency (a security firm?). The names still have me flummoxed, ha. Who the hec was that old geezer with the eye-patch? He didn’t come up in the episode synopsis. Also, was he the leader of the criminal organisation or the supposedly dead, original bridegroom (Zou Ping)? SB realised something important here, I just don’t know what. Besides the fact that there is evil also within the Wulin Sects.

    Could ep 4 be said to be a sort of a game changer? There were several important sounding discussions at the end and I’m dying to know what they were about. It felt like SB was getting more alarmed and suspicious. E.g the gambler lady said something in the parting that made him look very thoughtful and worried, which continued with Det Dee and the abbot. Which is why that ‘baka!’ scene when sending the samurai off made me grin. Ok, even with additional info, I’m still in the dark about the gambling house boss’ motives for doing what he did. It had something to do with the gambler lady, right? He tried to frame her, but why? The epi synopsis talks about ZhuGe Qing and QingQing (the gambler lady) – are they the same person? The Devil Face ‘Sigill’ makes yet another apearance, how many are there now – three? I’m surmising it’s some sort of Yasha ID/calling card.

    Do you remember when exactly SB realised he was being manipulated? I think he felt that something was off pretty early on but when did he know for sure there was someone pulling the strings?

    Like gnanmien above, I keep being awed by the overall acting. Where have all these thespians been and why aren’t they more well known?! Han Shuo and Liu Guan Cheng especially are wonderful in the roles. Han Shuo btw. has a ballet background and me thinks it shows. 🙂

    On to eps 5-6…

    1. Yes, Episode 3‘s title is literally White Horse Escort Service. Fancy personal DHL service. It is called White Horse because Boss’s surname is Bai/White, and who can resist horsey as mascot for an express delivery service company!?

      Old geezer with eye patch is the best fighter of 刑天门, the sect the revengeful SiL started after rescued by who else but Yasha. Yasha taught him everything, thus he knows very refined Shaolin wuxia only SB can spot off bat. Now for sure SB has confirmation Yasha must have sth to do with that Uncle Shaolin monk he has heard of, being the only one able to meet the BronzeMen challenge to descend the monastery when he asked Caveman Uncle, whom he thought was the second one, but nope Caveman Uncle Monk just escaped, he admitted in ep1 no way he is as good as his ‘Bro’.

      I think by 3 SB got suspicious he is in deeper than he can handle. DetDee refused to go with him to Mansion White Horse but warned him with care this is a complicated world where good and evil, right and wrong coexist and hard to disparage. In hindsight we know DetDee did not show face because there is only so much law can handle, is he gonna work for the influential BossBai capturing the murderers/rapists yet let him escape justice when he is able to erase any trace of a rich prominent fam like Zuo just by conjuring up a story they are hit by plague? Sticky. There r murky grounds where the rules of engagement of the lawless, dictated by a wuxia code of vendetta could be better employed…but DetDee is not leaving SB out of reach, he is keeping such close eye on his new friend of mutual respect he is hesitant almost to mention to Crown Prince as the capable one solving the sticky cases end of ep2.

      SB is still quite an innocent at the beginning of 3, his MO is to avoid any loss of human life dictated by Buddhism, so when time and again LingEr urges him to let things exhaust ‘natural’ course if it is rotten people killing off each other, so be it. It was against his grain at the beginning of ep, he is swaying at the end. Also, he has new care for a certain someone in Zhou LingEr, at the end of ep when DetDee asks/commands LingEr to accompany him on his next investigation, SB volunteers to tag along but denied as ‘does not concern’ him, and the sharp DetDee quickly ensures SB he won’t put LingEr in any harm’s way. SB is now well aware there are shadowy powers in working that is dragging him along, all somewhat connected to Yasha which they thought cases closed end of 2. Trouble would come knocking for him no matter how hard he tries to avoid, he quips when LingEr asks him whether he would continue being a freelance detective. We left him back at square one as a word reader, with his most loyal customer and trust he would be dragged into the next case concerning some dark gambling house.

      I will come back after I rewatch 4.

    2. Ep4 is epic! GLORIOUS. This story is extremely authentic a color copy of GuLong’s (a wuxia novel master author, arguably one of the best writer ever in genre) Lu XiaoFeng (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu_Xiaofeng) with the artistry I had seen last in WKW’s Ashes of Time…esp on those hypnotizing color filters used. Feast for eyes.

      It is definitely a game changing ep for DetDee, he is now hit in the face with Yasha’s infiltration in the imperial court which breaks his softie heart too much: because this time nefarious evil manip of children is happening under his nose and he died a whole lot inside. It is quite obvious he has been reluctantly working for CrownPrince and too aware his job is not simply a good catching evil one. He thought at least he is on the winning side slightly, crimes contained…but now he is losing hope. Mr Liu is flawlessly emotive esp when his eyes are lit in nothing but shadows. Gambling house boss is a gambler who lost his family, sold his only son…and he is inflicting the exact horror on his victims. He did not commit murder as in killing the village folks who shared the common tragedies of having to sell own children because of debt, and gamblingboss insisted at the reveal near the end these victims deserved no sympathy (he was hollering, ‘WHO gave me any sympathy then?! NO ONE!’) it was their own addiction driving them to killing themselves after learning their children are now in the assassin slave trade. Yasha’s infiltration of the court is a Wang gonggong, a high ranking eunuch and only the best of the best child assassins survived the Battle Royale/Hunger Game dungeon, training by killing each other for a meal. SB got the invite to the gambling island because he is too good and will in no time snuff them out, they r going to make him gamble with his head on line.

      Gambling boss played the charade the culprit is another gambling master he lost his arm gambling to 20 years ago, a ZhuGe Qing, homonym to the young vixen gambler’s name 青青/QingQing, whom boss is hinting every way possible is the same person. Gambling boss’s spin was ZhuGe should be a 50 year old lady, but somehow she still looks like a young maiden, must be some voodoo of eating the kids to tap into fountain of youth/immortality, along the darkest vein of Taoist obsession in vogue then: enlightenment = transforming human existence into immortal fairydom.

      Truth is Boss did not mention ZhuGe lost the next game and had to lost his identity, could never utter his name again (yup not a she we were led on all along) and serving as right hand man of Boss forever. HE killed the bald funny fatso long time customer of SB under Boss’ order to warn SB to stay away they r close he is next, but piqued SB’s interest instead. ZhuGe is the samurai, who warned SB of the island/gambling/boss very surreptitiously in few words. At that climatic gamble, boss’ evil plan was to let the ‘top’ child assassin to fake it as his own son, captured by gambling vixen, kill her in the chaos, she being scapegoat of Boss’ crimes, samurai will kill SB by ‘accident. Neat, his plan. Boss is pathetically bitter, missing his son, his only comfort is the broken jade his kid used to carry, the void in him vast, and as he can find no true peace, he can’t bear seeing others enjoying a happy family. Vixen had hint of feelings towards SB ( he is luminously lit in a golden glow from her angle entering the gambling hall in the climatic gamble. ‘you are the only one (alive, I assume) who had seen my tattoo… nudging SB to travel freely the jianghu world with her in their last scene tog), dazzled he is obviously the nicest guy she will meet. She hinted how SB could win, and perhaps saves the children sacrificing herself by saying even if he can read the dices, ‘it means nothing’, as she is the best of Boss’ creation, can crush the dices to nothing. No matter what SB says from 1 t0 18, sure lose. Well trained child assassin herself, bought from her folks to cover debts fr Boss, whom promised her if she did well, he will let her folks live and one day she could meet them again in the capital city. Boss did not kill them, but let parents die on the streets starved to death, she found out too late in the beginning of ep, looking for them every corner of city, catching eye of LongJiu. Given what DetDee knew then, of the high ranking eunuch working for Yasha, training spy assassins to be sent into the court, it’s understandable he is in a very dour mood seeing LongJiu in that bar earlier on. I thought he just does not like the sight of the little slick troublesome thief, thus when LJ said he would willingly go to the ends of the world (with SB) exc gambling island, DetDee hit him with, ‘We lack eunuchs in the court. (wanna head there instead?! my 80cattie sword is ready…) He is not only being sarcastic, he is actually blatantly asking for LJ’s aid. He thought he could handle it all if his only concern is keeping his own head afloat, but in this case, he almost got SB killed, got LJ in danger as well, and in the end the kids SB is optimistically hoping could overcome the trauma, are not safe and sound, at least DetDee could not assure their well being being so close to the brewing storm.

      It was LongJiu who knew of the island too well, been there once in his gambling escapades, equipped with his fam skills of able to runrunrun to be the few who made it alive leaving island. It is also his knowledge of the land that made him crucial finding the children, informing DetDee. DetDee could not do the detective work himself, as he wanted to hide in the shadows of alerting Yasha, but he is also much more hesitant asking SB to do his ‘dirty work’. He is more cautious now, can’t be too trusting anyway. BUT he is never one who would not look for SB’s back, he is on the island alright, even without his entourage, which SB is curiously asking the whereabouts. Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL in that scene he saved SB?! SB knew of samurai’s real identity because of his superhumanly keen eyes, catching the initials on his samurai swords very early on, usu too quick for anyone else to notice. That’s why he could gather and piece everything tog.

      We are still having a naive SB, his caveman ‘Daddy’ warned him you can’t enter the world without gathering ‘dust’, which he now learns lesson, cause it does bother him somewhat whenever the investigative bureau has any sticky case, they would knock his door. ‘But not bothering you enough!’ caveman Daddy gushed. SB admits he welcomes it, sees it as part of his training to rid the mortal world of ‘evil’, trusting himself to be able to distinguish the bad from the good. Again cavemanDaddy gruntled his skepticism.

      The scene at the end where SB offers incense witnessed by Abbot, sth he has never done before, had Abbot asking if SB is having trouble sorting out his thoughts. SB asked if he should ask Abbot about it, and it concerns the mortal world and Shaolin (I bet he is making his mind whether he should or could pursue a career as the top detective of land). Abbot just told him, ‘ There are things you could ask and know but not understand. Why not let it run its course as fruits will fall naturally when ripe.’

      Yes, Han is a ballerina by training, it is almost a criteria for a C period wuxia actor all along. In the old days, there was Jet Li who is a true Shaolin disciple, national wuxia champion. I do not think Jet Li is passable an actor though. At least they would be considered in roles in such without the drama school schooling. I can’t be happier they found one in HanShu who could handle the physical demand AND act competently. To my bleeding heart too often I had to turn a blind eye at even the household names of leading actors/actresses who r dancers alright but CANT ACT A LICK.

      1. Yeah Han Shu is very good 🙂 . He can act his reactions as SB are very raw. He and DetDee do a dangit job. It is not hurting he is LJG Twin 🙂 . What is the name of Lil Zhou Xun please ? So she had a crush on SB . Too bad one won’t see her anymore. I want a female lead like Vixen gambling boss : calm, sexy, woman, lethal, vulnerable, confident and tragic at the same time.
        Thank you Mookie 🙂

          1. Thank you gege 😀 . I have finished episode 6 and 7 now and damn the girl in episode 7 is badass. She is a cold killer and looks harmless but badass enough to make men shake with fear :s . Fighting scenes in the drama get more and more intense and give me goosebumps. Hero fighting skills are no match to Yasha pool of assassins. Don’t get me started on Yasha himself. I am scared for all the heroes especially our adorable thief :s

          2. I wanted to see more of 黄咏雪 . Especially she like SB and imagine a duel against killer in episode 7 (knowing that Qing Qing is a trained assassin too and she exudes sexiness and confidence as well 🙂 ). I hope we will see more of Ep7 assassin in the subsequent episodes. I think one needs closure about her character

      2. Forever indebted to you for being so kind as to transcribe parts of these episodes. I’d squish you if you were here. XD I’m obsessed with Monks. It’ll probably end as one of my all time favourites, lovingly re-watched from time to time. It’s a crying shame that there are no-one interested in subbing this gem. Haven’t watched much else recently, can’t seem to find the interest.

        Yes! Ep 4 is glorious indeed. SO pretty to look at too, the colours are just wonderful. But then, every single epi is a feast for the eyes in their own way. Who is the director by the way? Has he done anything else?

        I totally missed the connection to the eunuch (and all it entailed). Was he actually shown anywhere or just talked about? Boss is a total hypocrite, he was once exactly like the poor devils he prays on now. One of these whiners who always blames others for his own sins/failings and dreams up all sorts of excuses for the vile things he does. Plenty of those in the real world too, more’s the pity. I liked the sassy QingQing. She sure did have a ‘thing’ for our SB, but who wouldn’t. *g* I think I’m having a ‘thing’ for him, LOL!

        Ah, so the samurai is the real ZhuGe Qing. I was wondering what his deal was, though I did get that he had gambled against Da Boss and lost, thus having to become the bodyguard. SB got him free as well.

        Mr Liu has very pretty, expressive eyes and he knows how to use them to the fullest of impact. 🙂 As for our Mr Han… the boy is good, a graduate of both Bejing Dance Academy and The Central. I see his parents were also dancers.

        Done with both ep 5 and 6 now as well but I guess I need to mull on them a little bit more before I say anything. Bot are pretty straight forward plotwise and I got most of the important bits… I think.

        1. You are most welcomed. Lovely to chat about a passion shared!

          PD 海涛/Steven Hai has done some small movies. His most talked about seems to be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yv-NT7vIY0 ( story based in Tang dynasty of the dying emperor XuanZhong in house arrest by his grandson and his obsession over the infamous beauty Consort Yang and a painter whose painting of the beauty he could not laid to rest without…mystery ensued…havent seen it myself) He is a graduate in cinematography from Beijing Film Academy. http://baike.baidu.com/subview/305603/16694726.htm

          The infiltration of Yasha into the imperial court’s Eunuch Yang gunggung is just gushed out by an irated DetDee in frustration snapping at SB’s overt wishful thinking on the children’s recovery from hell…’this is just a beginning’ DD sighed wistfully.

          I now realized I missed the most important question on what must be on SB’s mind Abbot sifu could sense but halt SB asking out loud: what is Shaolin’s connection with Yasha. He gathered enough of Yasha’s wuxia and all the clues BigBoss had deep entanglements with Shaolin, sth Abbot must know too well but not telling.

  4. I’ve noticed that the episodes don’t all have quite the same weight – some pack a much heftier punch. Eps 5-6 now feel like a lull before the storm, which starts rising in ep 7, but they do shed a light on how far and wide Yasha’s influence has penetrated. I think I got most of the references but as per usual, I do have a few questions. 😉

    So, the gathering of all the martial arts sects was to elect a new Master of the Wulin Association? And the previous Master (Qiao Shang Zhou?) asked Shao Bai to investigate murders and disappearances of sect leaders but was keeping tabs on SB at the same time? Did he also have some other reason for involving SB? He kills himself after receiving that gory ‘present’, but was he also meant to do it in a way that would get SB blamed for ‘killing’ him – in order to give SB yet another ‘lesson’? Big Yasha sure has a lot of faith in SB’s ability to get himself untangled from all these preplanned obstacles. Any idea why Daddy Dearest decided to take personal interest in the proceedings this time? Btw. what lead SB to go to that garden where he met Big Yasha for the 1st time? Does he already know that the guy is the Shaolin Renegade? Ep 6 is a direct continuation from 5, though it doesn’t look like so at first, as it has a connection to Wulin. What got magistrate Xu An to leave for that unfortunate trip in the first place? And did they really make Shisan Yan the new Master of the Wulin Association? Guy’s not entirely right in the head.

    Ah, ep 7 – when I first watched it, I already got this feeling of impending doom. Things start to go from bad to worse and it seems like it’s here the seed of distrust that later starts to sour the relationship of our Awesome Twosome is also sown. The episode has so many movers and shakers that I’m still not sure who was doing what and in benefit of whom. What is clear is that Yasha is pulling strings everywhere – fare made feel depressed. Was the affair of Det Dee’s assistant also something that was some way arranged by Yasha or was it just a happy coincidence? The sequences that lead to Det Dee’s arrest… a SB scheme to flush the crooks out, perchance? It looked like that. SB’s little talk with the witch Xiu Niang was interesting to watch, even when I didn’t understand a word. A ‘fishing’ trip by SB? Did he actually garner some new info? This ep is also the start of the string of collateral damage. That was some inspired acting by Han, I really felt his pain when the old beggar died.

    Ep 8 then brings on the heavy weaponry and robs SB of something truly precious. I don’t think LingEr was aware that she was going to be the ultimate weapon in order to set SB firmly on the ‘right’ path. She was totally taken aback when that poison hit. She may have realized it later on but she was still more than willing to give her own life in exchange of his, I don’t think she was forced to do that. The magistrate on Yasha’s employ probably knew too that he wouldn’t survive but I didn’t see that he was any choked up on it, wasn’t the sucker smiling in the end. I suppose Det Dee is still alive because he hasn’t fulfilled his full function yet. I wonder if he feels it? He and the Crown Prince must know by now about DB’s background but not Big Yasha’s current identity. Which by the way is what? Who is he pretending to be? Was that just a teeny, tiny glimmer of fear I detected in Daddy Dearest. He looked awfully relieved to hear that SB had survived. He took quite a gamble with SB’s life – what if the antidote had not worked for some reason? It was hard to watch SB breaking yet a bit more. He’s not the same any more after this, something’s gone and something’s gained. This whole ep was like one of those Russian dolls – you open up one and there’s another inside, and another, and another… Things you spot on re-watch; LingEr at Big Yasha’s house in the beginning. She seemed to be quite at home there.

    SB has better than adequate fighting skills but he is not best of the best. He picks up something new every time though, but this I didn’t even realize until the last ep. I guess he is hampered down by not being a coldblooded killer like all of his major opponents. Even when he is in cold rage later on, he still manages to hang on to that ‘shining’ core of his, even if it’s a bit dust dimmed by then. Somehow it feels like that was the thing Daddy Dearest never counted on. Guess he’d become so used to how easy it was to sway/coerce people, to make them ‘see’ things his way.

    1. Hugs Chingu, I have decided to recap. I am nuts, that is what I am.

      I have only rewatched 5 thus far. So glance through my wordage and I hope many of the murkier points are answered. You guys amaze me how much you get from visuals and genius guessing skills. *bow*

      on e5 :

      Master Qiao has a very good read on Everything all along, anything he has doubts on, confirmed through the ep. This is a crucial move for Yasha, gaining utmost control of wulin, hence y BigYasha shows up himself. That is the real reason y Q invites SB… the realdeal most precious prized creation to tug with Yasha. SB has no idea Gardener is Yasha until they fight. He was just there probing who bought the prized peonies/thus probably poisoned the victims. Y did not move a hair, like scarface Chen, Y used Shaolin’s Golden Bell Cloak, just more masterful, nulling One Finger Zen, his most lethal and i doubt SB likes to let out he knows such sacred wuxia of the chosen few.

      As Dr57 is both the poison killer and antidote bearer, he could have saved them all. That is y SB got the peony chest treatment… a Y ploy to send him back to SL nursing. But as things r not smooth w Dr57, Y thinks on the move to off Dr, grooming SB’s esteem in wulin instead. Considering MasterQ figures out SB is the endgame and he is quite enamoured with the young gun, his purpose as leader is to safeguard a balance of the power triumvirate of Imperial court vs Wulin vs Yasha, he could rest in peace.

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