Taking a brief break from my Jdrama viewing (Still have a few series to cover!) to watch some MingEn. I haven’t recapped a full episode in a while so it may be rusty. The last time was Feast of the Gods fiasco. Episode 1 is fast-paced and sets the foundation for our female leads. The war scenes are quite good but I can’t watch them for long because the fallen horses break my heart.
The story begins in midst of a battle between two kingdoms, the Wei, led by General Yu Zi Ren (Louis Fan), and the Chen, led by General Unknown. Having respect for his fellow opponent, General Chen tries to lure General Yu to his side by offering luxurious living quarters in the new palace. But for the latter, loyalty comes first and he fights formidably, despite being surrounded by the enemies. His country flag eventually falls down.
Watching the body count increasing from the mountains above is a man, accompanied by his little nephew, Yun Er (future Ming Dao). Not afraid of the bloody battle, the little boy promises to keep them in order when he’s an adult, even if it means beating them endlessly.
In their residence, Qing Lian (Hu Jing), General Yu’s wife, is dancing for the enjoyment of their daughter, Miao Ge (Future Yuan Shan Shan). Her wisdom to the little girl? “Women must be beautiful, because only beautiful women can tempt men into doing whatever they ask.” Already, you’re teaching her to be a seductress?!
Prepared to die to protect his honor, a battered General Yu returns home and throws the suicide question at his wife. Bewildered and frightened, she nods her head, but her eyes betray her fear of an early death.
The machinery in her head immediately starts spinning and she distracts him by offering wine to calm his nerves. Carefully selecting the drugged glass of wine for him, he turns the table on her by switching the wine glasses. Obviously, it’s his test of loyalty, and she fails. Carrying Miao Ge and leaving his manipulative wife struggling on the floor, he leaves the residence.
Outside, running over the dead bodies of his people, General Yu makes one last effort to protect his daughter, he bends a metal shield enough to enclose her small body. Determined, he looks at her and tells her to remember his last words, as flying arrows hit his body repeatedly. We don’t get to hear it.
Later, Father Lu and his daughter, Le Er (Future Qiao En), wander into the battlefield to collect valuable war items and come across Yun Er and his uncle. Pretending to be a corpse, Le Er catches the attention of Yun Er when she moves her hand out of his path. They smile at each other. Aw. So cute already? She looks around and sees Miao Ge lying wide-eyed in the shield. With her compassionate nature, Le Er convinces her father to adopt the pitiful girl.
On the way home, a chirpy Le Er rambles on and on about how happy she is to have a friend. Miao Ge remains lifeless, staring into space. When she can’t get a response from her new friend, Le Er moves to sit by her side and begins singing. You’re not gonna give up are you? 😀
Having lived at the Lu Residence for a few days now, Miao Ge still refuses to speak. When a maid called Yu Nu spies her grabbing snack from the same table as Le Er, she quickly slaps her hand away, “Who do you think you are? You homeless thief! How dare you eat from the same plate as our young mistress?” Yu Nu spanks her a few times until Le Er rushes over and warns the maid to keep her hands off of Miao Ge, “I’m gonna ask dad to adopt her. So if you disrespect her, you’re also disrespecting me. Got that?”
After this incidence, Miao Ge finally opens up to Le Er, revealing her name and the meaning behind it. Miao Ge thanks Le Er for her kindness and hopes they’ll always be like this.
Father Lu initially wanted to wait it out before adopting Miao Ge, but due to Le Er’s persistence and Miao Ge’s display of filialness by holding the candle and having wax melted on her soft hand just to light up his dark accounting office, he softens.
It’s official. Miao Ge is now the second young mistress in the Lu Residence. The two girls are seen sitting side-by-side doing embroidery. The scene switches to their adult counterparts. Adult Le Er complains that embroidery is not fun and opts to go read her books, but Mother Lu thinks otherwise, “Ignorance is a woman’s bliss.” Le Er finds this thinking ridiculous. Why should she waste time for a stranger she would marry in the future? It’s absurd to her that men would like her stupid. Her mother calls this a woman’s destiny. Le Er: “What is Destiny? I don’t believe in it.” She walks away.
Miao Ge tries to comfort her godmother, “Don’t be angry, godmother. Le Er is still young.” Contrary to anger, Mother Lu is more worried. A bright woman would only attract unnecessary attention to herself.
Supporting her head with her palms, Le Er watches with mild annoyance at her obedient mother being subservient to her father from the balcony. Miao Ge wonders what she’s thinking. Le Er finds the world she’s living in quite strange. People marry before meeting their spouse, and women spend the rest of their lives serving a man’s needs. Like he’s a God bestowed onto her doorstep. She figures that without self-dignity, living has no meaning.
Disagreeing with her sister’s point of view, Miao Ge finds it perfectly acceptable and justified that women are below, men are above; men lead the way, and women follow. Le Er calls that crap-thinking. If she’s going to marry someone, then she’s going to choose him. Miao Ge: “Do you mean you’re going out to the world to find him?” Of course, half the population is men, surely there’s one for her.
That night, we find Le Er in a fancy restaurant, dancing. Performing with a mask on, her gaze falls on the arriving man with the veil hat. It’s Yun Er (Ming Dao)!
…And I’m actually cringing right here. Joe is so stiff, it’s awkward watching her. Le Er continues to dance suggestively in front of him and when he doesn’t response to her moves, she stops, “Do you find my dancing not up to your refined tastes? Why the disdained face?”
In a matter-of-fact tone, Yun Er says he does not know the arts of singing and dancing. Such obscene music only serves to confuse people. If she can choose to befuddle men, then he can choose to not be befuddled. Upset but not discouraged, Le Er spits right back, “Musicians exists in the past and present. “For you to disregard its amazing effects proves that you’re a vulgar man, who has never known music.”
He doesn’t disagree with her assessment, which cracks me up, because now her words seem wasted on deaf ears. Since they don’t see things eye-to-eye, he leaves. She attempts to run after him but is stopped by several customers, addressing her as “Red Rose.” It’s clear that they’re unhappy, seeing how much attention she’s showering the handsome man. Dudes, get in line. Ming Dao has been there since Prince turned to Frog. 😛
They grab her wrist and she tells them to have some respect. Enraged by words of a lowly dancer, they shove her back and forth a bit before Yun Er comes back and beat the daylights out of them. His arm goes around her waist and they fly out of the noisy restaurant.
Upon landing, she asks for his name, in which he coolly replies, “There’s no need to know since we won’t meet again.” He walks away and Le Er is totally smitten.
Le Er returns to her house the next morning to find her father acting suspiciously, ordering men to be careful and loading many chests away. Miao Ge shows up behind her and she shrieks like a cat. Asked whether she knows where her dad is going, Miao Ge stays in the safe zone, citing that they have no rights to ask adults such personal questions.
Inside the room, Mother Lu puts a bracelet onto Yu Nu’s wrist, celebrating her entry into the family. (Me: What?!) Le Er has the same reaction and her mother mutters, “The guilt of not bearing your father a son has finally been lifted off my shoulder. It’s only right I do so.” She can lie to everyone but not her daughter. Le Er: “A right? Who said that? Honestly, do you want dad to have a concubine?”
Mother Lu pauses, and then proceeds with her speculation: “It’s better than having him stayed out all night.” Ah, she thinks he’s seeing someone secretly. Le Er suggests they ask her father straight-out or investigate on their own. But her mother, in this time period, believes it’s okay for men to have other women.
Seeing how suppressed her mother is, angry tears pool in her eyes. “Mother, you’re really pitiful.” Still, Mother Lu says she’s doing all this to protect Le Er. By picking the woman for Father Lu, she avoids direct fights with the women he might bring home. In showing early kindness, Mother Lu hopes that Yu Nu won’t treat them badly when she has a son.
The father doesn’t look like he’s having another woman, more like running an illegal business. Yu Nu may have married into the Lu Residence but Father Lu doesn’t appear to like her at all.
Still watching her parents’ interactions, Le Er repeats her independent pursuit of romance to Miao Ge. She will not let a child’s gender define her status in society.
That night, Father Lu brings his chests to meet a group of men in the forest. Are they bandits? Sure dressed like it. Turns out he’s making weapons for them. Having stalked her father there, Le Er watches curiously from a distance. Unfortunate for her, the male mosquitoes take a bite, she moves, capturing the leader’s attention. Father Lu steps in right away and plays along, calling her his son.
On the way back, Le Er walks slowly behind the group, prompting her father to question why she’s moody, when he’s the one who should be angry at her audacity. Speaking frankly, she can’t believe her father, a man of high morals and hates war, is now an arms dealer. Acting on impulse, he slaps Le Er, and immediately regrets it.
After running away, she trudges aimlessly down the busy street. And who shall be sitting and brooding but Yun Er. He sees her unsteady footsteps and hurries over to catch her. She faints into his arms. EEEEEE! This scene is similar eh?
Next morning. (What? That’s it?)
Le Er wakes up in her cozy bed. Er, don’t ask me how he knows where she lives. Father Lu brings in sweet pastry to make up for last night’s mishap. She tells him not to belittle her, she might be a woman, but she is one with big ambitions. Glad to hear that, her father leans in closer, telling her that she’s old enough to know of a secret…
Kappy: If anything, Episode 1 laid it on real thick how Le Er is different from other women that it became a bit forceful in execution. I’m happy she has a spine and we can see that she doesn’t back down from any verbal fight. Her spunky personality is a result of having a doting father and a submissive mother. While she witnesses her mother slaving away, her father gives in to her requests, empowering Le Er with a sense of control. With that in mind, I can see why she finds her mother’s beliefs to be preposterous, when she has her father wrapped around her pinky.
We didn’t get to see much of Miao Ge but I’m sitting here laughing. Seems like Yuan Shan Shan is playing rival to Joe in another love triangle. From the previews, she’s involved with Chen Xiao while harboring a crush on Ming Dao. I can also tell the end game isn’t my beloved couple….yet AGAIN. DANGIT!