Bring out the confetti, the show is finally here! The spin-off, re-telling of the famous Prince of Lan Ling will focus on the princess instead and promises an epic romance with the two men who want her heart. We will see if they deliver.
Princess of Lan Ling Episode 1 RECAP:
The Duan Mu tribe holds the secret of the Northern Qi’s power, namely three magical devices with earth-shattering powers: Zhen Hun pearl, Qing Luan mirror, Li Shang sword. If one owns all three devices, one owns the world. However, after the tribe mysteriously disappeared, so did news of the devices. It is said that the blood of a Duan Mu will point to the location of the devices. (I’m a bit confused, correct me if I’m wrong about the legend!)
Year 420. The Northern Qi and Zhou are constantly at war, causing the people endless misery. It is rumoured that Zhen Hun pearl has appeared in Northern Zhou and that heir to the tribe, Duan Mu Lian (under the name Yuan Qing Shuo), is infiltrating Northern Zhou in order to find the pearl.
Yuan Qing Shuo (Kristy Zhang) is masquerading as the niece of Madam Shao, wife of Yu Wen Hu. They are entering the Emperor’s court and Qing Shuo is reminded that the success of their plan is entirely up to her, she can’t afford any mistakes.
Qing Shuo fiddles with her handkerchief, until the wind blows it straight into another man’s face. She recognises him as Yu Wen Yong (Peng Guan Ying), the Emperor’s younger brother. Her aunt, Madam Shao, has instructed her to seduce him, so she can marry into the Wen Yong’s mansion, where the pearl is.
They stare at each other, but it is Emperor Ming (Kris Shen) who takes the handkerchief, intrigued by the embroidery of two fireflies. He promises to return if she answers why and she proudly quotes a poem. The Emperor is obviously taken by Qing Shuo though, while Wen Yong just looks aloof.
As they leave for the banquet, Qing Shuo stops to look at Wen Yong. He makes a point to hold his lady companion close to him, sending Qing Shuo a smirk. Okay, a playboy. Got it.
The dance at the banquet does not interest the Emperor, who has been waiting for Qing Shuo’s performance. Right on cue, Qing Shuo shows up in an elaborate peacock dress. The emperor looks obviously in love as he watches Qing Shuo dance, something that both Wen Yong and Yu Wen Hu notices.
In the middle of her performance, Qing Shuo holds out her hand for Wen Yong to join her. He plays along, wanting to know what is her game. I was kinda looking forward to seeing Wen Yong dance, but alas, this is not that kind of drama. She dances a little next to her until the music stops, signalling the end.
The Emperor praises Qing Shuo’s performance and is about to ask his brother for her hand, when Yu Wen Hu (Gilbert Lam) pulls a fast one by asking the Emperor to grant Qing Shuo’s marriage to Wen Yong instead. This of course shocks the Emperor.
Wen Yong concocts a sob story of how he so wants to marry such a beauty like Qing Shuo but he is already engaged to a princess from another country. If he breaks the engagement, they will have a diplomatic crisis on their hands. And they can’t possibly force Qing Shuo to be a mere concubine…
Except Qing Shuo totally agrees. So the Emperor reluctantly grants it and the wedding is to be held three days later, a supposedly auspicious day that Yu Wen Hu has pre-arranged. Wen Yong promises a grand wedding, even if Qing Shuo is to be a concubine, she won’t be mistreated. The poor Emperor looks so sad. I am sure your harem of three thousand is waiting for you.
The maids help Qing Shuo in her full wedding garb and she is visited by her uncle. He congratulates her for the job well done and reminds her of her mission to find the pearl: “Whoever gets the pearl gets to be emperor.” But he reminds her that she shouldn’t make any hasty movements, she must first capture Wen Yong’s heart.
Alone now, she stares at her handkerchief and wonders if Fourth Brother is waiting for her return. Flashback to how they spend time in a sea of fireflies, sitting by a cliff. They are obviously very sweet on each other, and when he leans in to kiss her, she flinches. Turns out a firefly accidentally flew into her mouth, lol.
He laughs that it could only happen to someone like her. She looks like she is about to get mad at his teasing, but then promises that she will learn to be a woman worthy to be his princess. He sweetly tells her that she is the only Princess of Lan Ling he wants. So this is our Prince of Lan Ling then, Gao Chang Gong (Andy Chen).
When she hands him her most treasured item, a ring secured on a beaded necklace, she reminds him of her destiny as the last of Duan Mu. Qing Shuo wants to be someone who can stand proudly next to him. They speak of being together forever, and she asks him to wait for her.
Qing Shuo tells herself that she doesn’t want to marry Wen Yong or live such a life. As if sensing her rebellious thought, her master arrives and pricks her, filling her blood in a tiny bottle. She doesn’t explain what for and just tells Qing Shuo to focus on her mission.
Her master tells her to hold Wen Yong for as long as possible during their first night. She tells Qing Shuo not to mind Yu Wen Hu, he is only a chess piece for them. While Qing Shuo keeps Wen Yong away, her master will send her men to scour the mansion for the pearl. So they want to find the pearl to help Chang Gong take the world.
It is their wedding day. Wen Yong holds his hand out for Qing Shuo and she reluctantly takes it. As per tradition, he carries her into their new marital home. When Qing Shuo hesitates before performing the wedding vows, Wen Yong has to tug at her hand to force her to do it. Meanwhile, the Emperor just has the saddest happy face, which Yu Wen Hu notices (which, I am sure, is part of his plan).
Wen Yong is sent off to his bridal chamber, terribly drunk. Qing Shuo tries to protect herself by using sleeping powder, except it doesn’t seem to work. He points out that she smells wonderful (from the sleeping powder) and shows her something fragrant of his own: a anti-sleeping powder pouch. So he is playing with her.
She runs away while he tries to jump her, and this time she straight up calls him a cunning man and tells him not to come any closer. She is resorted to using a gold dagger to protect herself, but Wen Yong takes the dagger instead, no longer pretending to be drunk.
He tells her she has been underestimating him. Now that she has stepped in, she won’t be able to leave anymore. As the newly weds confront each other, the men has been raiding the mansion using bottles containing Qing Shuo’s blood that lights up when it gets close to the Zhen Hun pearl. They decide the only place they haven’t searched is the bridal chamber.
Qing Shuo is now throwing things at Wen Yong to stop him, her screams alerting the two eavesdropping servants to run in. He sends them away, and then steals Qing Shuo’s handkerchief. Wen Yong calls her daring for bringing her lover’s handkerchief into her wedding night.
He promises to return the handkerchief if she tells him why she wants to enter his mansion. She then throws the question back at him. People say he knows a woman’s heart best, so why don’t he guess why? He is too smart for that though, so she literally throws herself at him to wrestle the handkerchief out of his hands.
They end up in a compromising situation where she is straddling him. Noticing this, Wen Yong laughs and then tries to force her again. Before he can get his way though, Qing Shuo pulls at the string holding the canopy and down it falls, just as Wen Yong ducks out of the way.
One of the men sent by Qing Shuo’s master accidentally farts (seriously?), alerting the servants outside the bridal chamber. A blink-and-you-miss-it fight ensues and the men kill themselves when they see they are outnumbered. Inside, Qing Shuo has fainted.
The news travel to Yu Wen Hu the next day, who is surprised that someone has taken action this quick. The dead men are too clean, leaving no evidence behind that can identify themselves. They decide it is not the Emperor’s doing (he is far too weak having recently throned) or Northern Qi’s doing.
Yu Wen Hu calls off the investigations, pointing out that someone is more desperate than they are. Madam Shao defends her niece, but Yu Wen Hu is still suspicious of Qing Shuo. He orders her to be taken to him, he wants to know the truth.
The Emperor is also investigating the incident and learns what Yu Wen Hu knows. He guesses correctly it is not his brother’s doing. His servant suggests that since Wen Yong probably has no mortal enemies, it may be related to the pearl instead. The timing is also too coincidental. It is possible that Qing Shuo is also a co-conspirator in this. While all this happens, Qing Shuo is still in a coma.
Ryu: I came across the show when I was still far from being sucked into the c-drama blackhole and was instantly mesmerised by the pretty. And then I was stuck waiting for a few years for it. Waiting, waiting, occassionally watching the trailer again, and waiting. While watching other shows, of course.
Suddenly then it creeped up on all of us and is finally here. I am sad to report that it is less than I expected. The directing was a bit off, I think, and some scenes linger too long while others are too brief. The tone is also jarring. Wen Yong trying to force Qing Shuo during their wedding night may be completely normal in the drama’s context, but was frankly uncomfortable to watch. Was it supposed to be comedic? Was it supposed to be, for a lack of a better word, romantic?
But it is still too early for the verdict, and I like Kristy, so I will keep watching and hoping for the show to improve. I will at least hang on until she finally reunites with her Prince of Lan Ling again. They are really so cute together, and clearly very much in love. I already know which ship I’m boarding and from the title, I don’t think I will be in the wrong one.