Oh…I didn’t expect the blazing chemistry from these two. You know, I have been MingEn this, MingEn that during the first two episodes that I completely forgot about the other man in Le Er’s life. He shows up in episode 3 and the air has been refreshed. We’re still in the process of setting up the characters, but hopefully, things pick up from here.
The hour introduces more important characters in our story so I will be succinct. After revealing herself to be a girl, the owner of the residence lies and points to Le Er as their daughter. The soldiers don’t care about the truth, they’re only interested in rounding up the right number of human sacrifices. These virgin girls are dolled up and stored in the commander residence for the time being, before they’re shipped to the emperor’s burial site. When Eunuch Zhao sends goods and clothes to the girls, the shrewd Commander conspires with a woman called Madam Ma, to retain the riches for themselves.
Unlike what they have heard about being treated luxuriously before death, the young girls find themselves contained in a basement and fed with meager meals. One of the girls is Xi Bing, and she quickly befriends Le Er. She’s an odd one in that she volunteers to be a sacrifice for someone else’s daughter. She explains her predicament: as a beggar, ambling through the streets, she simply hopes that she could have a full meal before she dies.
A batch of new characters. First up is the other man in Le Er’s life, Liu Hai Tian (Luo Jin), the future founder and first emperor of the Han Dynasty. Our first impression of him? He’s playing around at a gambling house, completely steadfast to win against the odds. We quickly learn that he’s a married man with a newly pregnant wife, living under the same roof as his parents. His best friend consists of scholar Zi Shu, and warrior Pang Wan. With Hai Tian’s new promotion, he’s billed his first task – escorting the human sacrifices to the designated location.
That plan doesn’t work very well because of the fateful meeting with our troublesome Le Er. While she’s attempting to save the girls with a ridiculous plan, she literally runs into Hai Tian’s arms (thinking he’s Yun Er). He’s all, “Look how different it is in the Commander Residence, this is how they treat their guests.” Le Er stares at the stranger, “Without any signs, this man walked into my life.”
Along the road to the burial site, Le Er tries another tactic to help the girls escape. The girls feign stomache and ask to relieve themselves in the forest. When he’s not paying attention, Le Er grabs her hairpin and jabs it at Hai Tian’s neck, threatening him to let them go. “Let us go or I’ll kill you! Why should we die for someone unrelated to us? We’re innocent!” Hai Tian: “So am I. I’m a soon-to-be father. So if you kill me, the unborn child will be fatherless.” Sadly, Pang Wan appears and easily subdues the crisis/Le Er.
Le Er appeals to Hai Tian one last time before she’s shoved in the carriage, “You said you’re becoming a father soon, let me ask you, how would you feel if your daughter was chosen to become a sacrifice? Gods are watching from above! Don’t commit sins!”
That night, Le Er is called to Hai Tian’s tent. He gives her a way out. He’ll let everyone go if she agrees to spend the night with him. O.O He’s testing her sincerity in wanting to help the girls, and she nervously averts his curious eyes. “Stay true to your words.” “I never go back against my words.” Le Er walks to a corner and pulls down her robe, revealing her back. He turns around and is stunned to see her go through with the deal. Mesmerized, he inches closer, inhaling her scent and fear.
Le Er pants heavily, trying her best to control the downpour of tears. In between strong spasms of fear, she murmurs, “Be gentle,” and these words wake up Hai Tian from his spellbound moment. He takes a step back and exits the tension-filled tent.
She fixes her wardrobe and hurries after, wondering why he stopped. Girl, let it go! He says he never forces anyone, and her tears is an indication of fear. “You’re a good girl. A good girl should never take off her clothes so casually in front of men.” And you’re a jerk for asking it!
He turns to friends, ordering them to let the human sacrifices go, he’ll bear the consequences. She thanks him, calling him a kind man. Well, Zi Shu is flabbergasted, “You’ve scarified your life, family, and career for a trivial compliment. Was it worth it?” But the young friend got it all wrong, Hai Tian didn’t do it for Le Er, he freed the girls because he doesn’t want to sin, not when his wife is carrying an innocent baby. “Gods take care of every living thing. I’ll take this as making merit for my unborn child.”
Turns out he has a fabulous plan. Since the New Emperor ascends the throne tomorrow, he’s betting on the amnesty granted to all prisoners to save his family from execution. Hai Tian, Zi Shu, and Pang Wan, kneel in front of the Commander Court entrance to seek pardon. Enraged, the Commander wants them beheaded because it’s a serious crime and they should be assessed under normal regulations. Hai Tian swivels around, his back to the commander, “According to the law, you can’t punish me.”
The commander calls attack, and surprisingly, the small Pang Wan is a hero, he fights against numerous men and throws his two friends out of danger zone, with his arm scathed slightly by an arrow. Now that he’s clear-headed, Hai Tian worries about his old parents and pregnant wife. This is dumb. Why can’t he hide them away BEFORE he generates trouble at the commander’s feet?
They move back home during the night and find the women bodies scattered on the ground. Angry tears stream down Hai Tian’s face but the boys drag him away, they don’t have time for tears and ambush might be nearby. They hear shuffling noises in a barrel and the father is found hiding, traumatized. He slaps Hai Tian for his offensive action, leading to the death of his mother and wife. With the guilt eating him, Hai Tian requests to be killed for his crime but everyone stops him. Father-son duo makes up because now they can only rely on each other.
Plans ahead? Hai Tian wants to join the revolt with Yun Shen State but the silent and strategic Zi Shu advises him to start war on his own, not wanting his friend to live under someone else’s shadows. Soldiers? They don’t have any. “Don’t worry,” Zi Shu says, “the people are more than willing to join a great cause against the tyranny. We can call for public appeal even.” The dad overhears the conversation and urges them to pursue that dream of peace and order.
Le Er returns home and we have the same push-and-pull conversation with her dad. He wants her to apologize for her wrongdoings but as a stubborn ox, she refuses. He ends up caning both Le Er and Miao Ge but one subsequent blow strikes Le Er’s head and she blacks out. Miao Ge attends to Le Er’s wounds and cries over the red marks streaking up and down her arms. Le Er stirs awake and tells Miao Ge not to cry, it’s her fault in the first place. Miao Ge hugs Le Er, apologizing over and over that she shouldn’t have softened and let Le Er leave.
But to Le Er, she would’ve made the same decision the second time around. Why? Because this trip has helped her discover…Love. Honey, it’s only one-sided! Miao Ge listens attentively to Le Er’s definition of love and longing, with a growing smile.
Prancing back and forth at the doorstep is a worried Father Lu, with a bottle of medicated oil in his hand. He wants to go in and cares for her injuries but his pride and face is holding him back.
Elsewhere, our hero Yun Er plays a sorrowful tune as he relays to his uncle how indignant he is that he wasn’t able to kill the Emperor with his own hands. Even though the King is dead, Chen state still exists, Yun Er grumbles. His uncle says for not too long because he’s arranged for the descendant of Xue Emperor to enter the palace.
The enthronement ceremony will be held in a few days. He figures he’ll send their troops up North and show them who’s boss. However, Yun Er’s confused, why do they need him? The shepherd didn’t fight or spare a sweat over this war, “How is capable of being King?” Uncle: “War requires good reasons. We revolted to restore the Xue State so it’s natural the Xue Descendant rises to throne. If we revolt now, we’ll go down as traitors in history.” Yun Er disagrees, reputation means nothing to a dead person, “Who cares?!”
Enthronement day. And I finally understand why Yun Er calls the new King a shepherd. The man literally cradles a lamb in his arms. Dude, you gain a lot of respect for that. Next step to their expansion, Yun Er’s uncle assigns him to conquer Kou County, with the condition that he follows Mr. Su’s orders every step of the way since he’s a senior mentor.
Carefree for now, Miao Ge and Le Er visit the temple. Miao Ge, after hearing about the wonders of love from Le Er, wishes that she can build her own house with the man she loves, while the perky sister just wants to see her prince again. The man at the temple tells them their fate, one will meet the right man at the wrong time, and one will meet the wrong man at the right time. Thank-you for complicating the matter!
The fortune teller looks at Le Er and deduces from her facial structures that she’s destined to be an Empress. Le Er’s excited about the prospect knowing that Yun Er’s plan is to overthrow the Chen State. She skips away before the man finishes his sentence, “He’s a gambler!” Krap. Spelling out the end game for me, huh?
Wandering near the river waiting for Le Er, Miao Ge slips off the cliff (omg, random) and is carried safely down to the ground by Yun Er’s heroic save. Dude, why are you everywhere!? She shivers from the scare and he, with big, grand gestures, takes off his outer wear and drapes it around her shoulders. Uh Oh. She’s smitten! Well, who could blame her?
That night, an ecstatic Miao Ge can’t hold in her happiness, so she strolls to Le Er’s room, meaning to have a chat like old times. They fall asleep on the promise to dig out their wishing bottles tomorrow.
Hiding in a secluded cave and recruiting new soldiers is Hai Tian and his gang. His father calls them cowards for hiding in this wretched place when Yun Kuang (Yun Er’s full name) is out and about fighting like a real man. This dad makes no sense. One can only succeed with careful steps. His son just started for heaven’s sake.
Pang Wan returns to the care with good news. After fighting for a period of ten days, Yun Kuang’s troop is depleted of food and and water. If the battle continues, Yun Er’s bound to lose. Pang Wan thinks it’s better if they join forces with Yun Kuang and Hai Tian’s father agrees enthusiastically. Zi Shu disagrees because it’s the same as selling their weakness to Yun Kuang.
With them having the upper hand, they ought to seize this chance and kindly send a letter to Yun Kuang. They can join forces but Hai Tian must be granted equal status as Yun Kuang in the war.
Kappy: HOHOHO! Finally, the setup is over. We can now have the men biting each other’s head off, slowly becoming friends, and aiding each other, before they eventually fall out. And in the midst of these bloody battles, seeds of multiple romances are planted. Some seeds bloom into flowers, while others wither into a life of regrets.
As of right now, I do not appreciate Le Er’s character development. She’s all big words (“I can be just like a man!” “I’m ambitious!”), but when it came down to really making an impact, she waited for Yun Er to save her? What the heck was that running randomly into someone’s arms before seeing their face krap? Don’t kid around Yumama. Your characters are not making sense here. I know she knows her limitations as a woman, so why didn’t she wait and observe the situation before carrying out her plan? It made her look silly, like a last-minute damsel in distress, that she incessantly declared she’s not.
I like Pang Wan already. What a little badass warrior. And Zi Shu’s calm and astute. Hai Tian is lucky to have such good friends around him. I can’t wait for the bromance between Yun Er and Hai Tian. It’s going to be epic, a rock vs another rock.