Just a note, we are recapping the uncut version and episode 24 is only available on Monday since it contains scenes not yet in the TV (broadcast) version from HNTV, so it’s not allowed release.
These three episodes are recapped by Maymay and Candora! Please don’t forget the ladies’ hard work! ❤ ❤ ❤
Episode 21 (written by Maymay):
Yuwen Huai is back in Chang An after securing the head of Yan Shi Cheng, and plans to go after Yan Xun next. He is intercepted by Butler Zhu who reported that Xing Er killed Yuwen Xi.
Meanwhile, a calm Xing Er slowly makes her way to the escape route, with Yuwen Xi’s head in tow. The path is littered with traps which she handles with ease.
Yuwen Huai examines the body of the beheaded Yuwen Xi with nary a glimpse of grief. In fact, he is happy now that he can take over Hong Shan Yuan with no shackles. That Yuwen Xi allowed himself to be killed by a mere slave girl – is only a minor blip. The guards are all killed by Xing Er so they go after her themselves.
Xing Er sets a trap of her own using Yuwen Xi’s head as bait and the string concealed within the hairpin given to her by shopkeeper Zhuo. Hot on her tail, Yuwen Huai finds the head and activates the trap. However, he saves himself by using Butler Zhu as shield. I don’t pity Zhu but man, he is such a horrible character.
Xing Er finds her path stopped by a great door. She recalls that she secretly marked the hand of a guard previously. She sprinkles some red sand and finds the palm outline on a part of the door, places her palm on it, and voila it opens. She runs up a flight of stairs.
On the other hand, the guards finally make their way to Yuwen Huai who just wipes his bloody hands on Butler Zhu’s shirt, smirks and leaves. Man is not happy to be bested that’s for sure.
Xing Er makes it to the top of a tower, the rendezvous point with Shopkeeper Zhuo but he is not there.
Yuwen Yue finally gets home and Yue Qi reports the assassination of Yuwen Xi by a slave girl. Xing Er and her sisters are also missing. Yuwen Yue should be able to put two and two together.
Shopkeeper in his flying batman cape delivers a set of the cape, along with some other weapons to Xing Er, keeping his end of their bargain. She is just done wearing the cape and testing the sword when Yuwen Yue arrives in his flying cape. Now that everything is out in the open, Xing Er does not hide the fact that she killed Yuwen Xi to revenge her sister. She is no longer submissive as usual and her attitude borders on haughtiness. She also admits to putting on a mask, as a means of self-preservation. Yuwen Yue is impressed she fooled him but Xing Er credits that to his teaching. She also asks him not to feel bad since she is only a trained kamikaze spy in his eyes. She tells him to skip the pretense and that she did him a favor by killing Yuwen Xi. She does not want his gratitude but instead attacks him to revenge her fifth brother, Lin Xi.
He is obviously holding back, unable to comprehend her extreme change in attitude. He thought he had explained Lin Xi’s death but his explanation rings false now that Xing Er knows Yuwen Zhuo is still alive. He calls out her name, attempting to explain himself but she throws away the silver bell – screaming in frustration that she is not Xing Er.
She attacks again, at one point sacrificing her cape to stab him when she is restrained. She tries to jump off the tower down the cliff when she manages to free herself… only to have him holding on to her hand. She shouts at him to let go, not wanting to have anything to do with him or Qing Shan Yuan. He persists so she strikes with her sword and he has to let go. He watches worriedly as she falls precariously, barely able to keep her balance since her cape is now punctured.
Yan Xun arrives in the nick of time, catching her as her cape finally gives way. And carrying her longer than necessary. Heh. He teases her as usual since he saved her yet again. She admits to killing Yuwen Xi, thanks him but tells him to leave since she does not want to get him involved in her troubles (Honey, he has greater troubles looming…). Yan Xun feels all her troubles will be solved if she follows him back to Northern Yan. She warns him not to read too much into her decision to follow him. And together they head back looking for her sisters.
Yuwen Yue flies back to his place. Yue Qi is surprised to learn that Xing Er is taken by Yan Xun, especially since the King has ordered all the nobles to capture Yan Xun.
Grandpa Yuwen Zhuo asks for Yuwen Yue. He has received a secret letter from Royal Consort Shu explaining the current political situation. Yuwen Zhuo first berates Yuwen Yue for being unable to capture Xing Er. He is concerned that Yuwen Yue is endangering the family because of a mere slave girl. And with her gone, he will be unable to clear his name. More importantly, Yuwen Zhuo appeals to him not to interfere in the affairs of Yan Xun. Not only will it be futile, it will also put the family in danger. Yuwen Yue agrees reluctantly. After Yuwen Yue leaves, Zhan Mou brings out a box containing the ice arrow.
Soldiers are roaming the streets as Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba wait impatiently for Xing Er. Xiao Qi is worried Xing Er might be in trouble but Xiao Ba feels that Xing Er has abandoned them. This selfish lady is more upset to leave Qing Shan Yuan since she obviously likes Yuwen Yue. Xiao Qi is worried and wants to look for Xing Er. Xiao Ba has no choice but to follow since she does not want to be left on her own.
Xing Er and Yan Xun reach the meeting point but of course the sisters have just left. Feng Mian, Zhong Yu and others join them from their hiding place. Zhong Yu advises to leave immediately but Zhao Xi Feng and his soldiers have arrived. From another direction, Wei Shu You also arrives with his men. And with Wei Shu Ye bringing up the rear, Yan Xun and gang are cornered from all directions.
At first Yan Xun thinks that they are only after him because he as a hostage is leaving the city without permission. Wei Shu Ye helpfully announces the royal decree which decrees that his father Yan Shi Cheng is accused of treason – hoping that Yan Xun wouldn’t resist arrest and be killed for it. Xing Er is amused that these men are after Yan Xun. He is apologetic for getting her involved. She is relaxed about it, since she gets to repay his favor if they get out alive.
With the situation on the brink of breaking out into a fight, Xing Er seizes an opening to attack. She throws a sword, releases two consecutive arrows at the Wei brothers’ horses, then reclaims her sword to cut Zhao Xi Feng’s fingers… before finally holding Wei Shu You hostage – all that in one move. She adds a kick at the cursing Zhao Xi Feng (boy that was satisfying). Yan Xun looks amused, impressed and proud of our girl. And why not. I am too. They manage to escape that night.
The next morning Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba are still on the streets, even more distressed when they find soldiers scouring the streets for rebels.
In the palace, Yuan Chun is locked in her room. Desperate to save Yan Xun, she changes clothes with the maid to escape the palace. Well it does not go well since she is caught in no time by her mother.
Meanwhile, Yan Xun releases Wei Shu You once they have reached safety. Xing Er does not agree to let him go. Yan Xun thinks that if they kill him it would only reinforce the treason accusation and if they are able to escape, his death is not necessary. He is more worried for her since she helped him escape and cut Zhao’s fingers. Xing Er couldn’t care less. Yan Xun teases that everyone will be aware now that she belongs to him hahahaha. It has double meaning – one she is on his side, two she is his woman. She gives up arguing with him and prepares to leave. They banter playfully on her physical prowess but it’s more like he is worried for her to leave alone, especially since she is a wanted criminal now. She reassures him that if they manage to get out of this mess, she will bring her sisters to Northern Yan and visit him there.
Yuwen Huai receives reports on Yan Xun’s whereabouts. He bumps into Zhao Xi Feng, snickers at his injury and promises to revenge him.
Meanwhile, the Royal Consort punishes the little maid who helped Yuan Chun escape despite her pleas. The maid dies during the beatings. Oh dear. Yuan Chun is shocked and appalled. The Royal Consort reinforces that rules are meant to be followed and there’s nothing Yuan Chun can do with regards to Yan Xun.
Xing Er finds someone who resembles Xiao Ba near Yuwen Manor. She pretends to be hit by the impersonator’s attack and retaliates when he approaches her. In a few slick moves, she has him at her mercy. The impersonator says he is only acting on orders – Yuwen Yue’s orders. Oh uh… more misunderstandings? She knocks him out and sees a —- secret device?
Before long, Yuwen Yue and his men see a fired signaling flare – ahh the secret device- and rush over. At first he is mad thinking his man had Xing Er killed. He rushes to the body but finds himself at knife point. He is surprised and relieved she is alive. She is bitter he wants to kill her (thought so… another misunderstanding). He dares her to kill him, moving against her knife deliberately. Caught off guard and probably not really wanting to kill him, she succumbs easily and is disarmed.
The knife did nick his neck though so she was probably half serious. She falters momentarily seeing him wipe the blood with his handkerchief – thinking of old days. But her resolve returns when he has no choice but to order her captured. She easily fights off the guards and after a while Yan Xun rides to her rescue again. This time she willingly extends her hand in response. She does however reprimands him for coming back for her in his situation. He laughs it off – insisting more than ever that she follows him back to Northern Yan. They ride away as Yuwen Yue calls off the chase.
Episode 22 (written by Maymay):
Yan Xun with Xing Er rejoin his comrades. He expresses his gratitude and motivates them to persevere. Xing Er learns that Yan Xun came for her because he sensed she was in danger. They banter playfully about him saving her and her thanking him. Ok this is getting old. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve typed this.
Anyway, Yuwen Huai has closed in on them. His band of archers start taking down Yan Xun’s men one by one. Yan Xun takes a shot to the abdomen while guiding Xing Er to safety. Yan Xun distracts the archers by acting as decoy. Xing Er finds Yuwen Huai alone and launches herself at him. He falls off the horse and loses his sword. They engage in hand-to-hand battle but Xing Er could not gain the upper hand. Yan Xun is doing pretty well taking down the archers one after another.
Xing Er attacks again, this time with a small blade – cutting through Yuwen Huai’s armor and aiming for narrow spots between his armor. He weathers her attacks but manages to retaliate by throwing punches of his own. The scenes crisscrosses between Xing Er and Yan Xun’s fights. Somewhere further we see someone with the little crossbow…
Xing Er continues on the offensive but this time she is overwhelmed and lies at the feet of Yuwen Huai. He laughs maniacally while taunting Yan Xun. In another shot, we see Yuwen Yue also equipped with the crossbow. Xing Er frees herself by swiping Yuwen Huai with her special ring blade. And then launches herself in a flying combo move with Yan Xun. Yuwen Huai flails and falls into the water (river?). They gaze at each other in smiles. This moment is precious but kinda ruined by flying leaves and what nots. Yuwen Yue also looks at them with conflicted emotions.
(I actually quite like this scene, it shows how naturally synchronized they are, despite not being “blessed” with nightly training session. Lol. It alludes to how alike they are as well – the liberating feeling they have when the bad guy is shot down. Those smiles are indeed precious! – Kap.)
As they ride away, a frozen arrow is released and hits Yan Xun on the shoulder – toppling both of the horse. They are immediately surrounded by soldiers effectively sealing off their escape. And less we think it was Yuwen Yue, the camera pans back to show us it was Zhan Mou. Our ice prince hits him twice in silent anger. (You see, everyone can use those damn icicles!! – Kap.)
Yuwen Huai escorts caged Yan Xun and Xing Er back to the capital. A weakened Yan Xun apologizes for getting her in trouble. She reassures him she is fine. Upon examining his wound, she recognizes the cause of the wound (tada… another misunderstanding). She quietly bandages his wound. In the commotion, Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba finally find Xing Er. Xiao Qi is anxious but Xiao Ba leads her away.
Yuan Song finds a miserable Yuan Chun in her room. He brings news – Yan Xun is in prison, Yan Shi Cheng is killed, Northern Yan has already been conquered. The Yan family is done for. Yuan Chun is in disbelief, desperately thinking of ways to save Yan Xun. For now their hope rests on Aunt Bai Sheng (Yan Xun’s mum) since the King would never kill her. Even their so-called friends are useless.
Ominous boxes are being delivered to the palace (most likely heads of Yan family members). The King cries for the death of his sworn brother, reminiscing about their younger days. How Yan Shi Cheng risked his life to save him. The King however while sad is not regretful – steadfast in his belief that Yan Shi Cheng is going to overthrow him. It’s a long monologue but basically he does not regret his decision. The King feels better with him dead – and if he is wronged only to find the King in the afterlife. Ok the King is pretty much crazy in my opinion. He is happily cradling a freaking head.
Yuwen Huai attends Yuwen Xi’s wake, also not in grief and hardly in respect. He pretty much gloats over the coffin – finally he redeems himself. He does promises to get Xing Er for revenge.
Our ice prince broods in the yard, with even the angry bird parrot reminding him of Xing Er. The faint scar on his neck reminding us of their broken trust.
Public notices are out announcing Yan’s family involvement in treason. Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba are worried about Xing Er. Feng Mian finds them and advises them to hide since they are runaway slaves. He, on the other hand, is going to rescue Yan Xun. And he will not be alone.
However, the Da Liang spies seem aware of the whereabouts of Yan Xun’s people. Zhong Yu is out of the city, mostly likely seeking reinforcement. She meets Mr. Dong Fang unaware that he has defected. He advises her against the futile attempt of rescuing Yan Xun. To him, Yan Xun will not affect the future of Northern Yan.
Yuwen Huai tries to take Xing Er from the prison but the warden refuses. We see that he is actually acting in favor to Yuwen Yue (aww…). In fact, the Warden Luo is also indebted to Yan Xun’s father, hence he is actually taking care of him in the prison. But he warns that Yan Xun’s situation is precarious given the development of recent events.
In the prison, Xing Er and Yan Xun are locked in adjacent prisons. Worried for Yan Xun, Xing Er digs a hole in the wall with a blade (*facepalm* how many of these does she have? And what weak walls we have here). She calls out lightly to the unconscious Yan Xun. He awakens and crawls to her side while she asks about his wounds. Still optimistic, he reassures her that his dad would never rebel. When the truth is out, they will be released. He pledges to protect her. She is not convinced but mollifies him by agreeing to everything he says. When he realizes she is hungry and cold, he asks for her hands. She reaches over through the hole and he warms her hands with his breath.
(How could a girl not be moved? His weak, injured self is trying to warm her up in prison! Such a lovely symbolism too: That wall, like Chu Qiao, cracks and allows Yan Xun to enter her heart. And their story begins… – Kap.)
He asks for her real name. She tells him it’s Chu Qiao. It’s the first time she tells anyone her real name (I’m glad they didn’t change this part! Yan Xun is the first person to know her real name – Kap). They deliberate over what to call her, from Xiao Qiao to Qiao Qiao before settling on Ah Chu. He calls her name softly, repeatedly – so happy to have her company. Then he asks for her other hand, even putting her hand in his clothes – teasing a speechless Ah Chu that she should be honored she gets to take advantage of him. I love how the scene ends with them pressing against the walls… trying to get close but separated by that drat wall.
Episode 23 (written by Candora):
Zhao Xifeng returns to the capital and encounters his big brother who is in charge of hunting all of the Yan family members. A guard reports that Yan Xun’s sister, Yan Hong Xiao, had gotten away. He immediately wants to give chase but Zhao Xifeng stops him and tells him that he will personally hunt her down. Seeing his bloodied hand, his brother agrees to the plan for him to release his anger.
The general presents heads of the Yan family members in golden boxes to the king. He stares at them with mixed emotion. The consort looks at him and asks if they should “invite” Yan Xun’s mother, Bai Sheng, to the capital. He does not reply.
At the outskirt of the city, the pregnant Yan Hong Xiao rides away from the city in a carriage. Yuwen Yue rushes out with his army. Panning back to Yan Hong Xiao, she is already on the ground surrounded by Zhao Xifeng and his army. When Yuwen Yue arrives, he sees Zhao Xifeng’s last arrow piercing through Yan Hong Xiao. (OMGAD – Kap.)
Such a despicable act boils Yuwen Yue. He orders his army to attack. Zhao Xifeng loses the duel and with Yuwen Yue’s sword pointing at him, he begs for his life and plays the friendship card. Before Yuwen Yue can kill him, an eunuch rushes over and tells him that the king summoned him and asks him to spare Zhao Xifeng. Zhao Xifeng smirks after hearing that, thinking that he is safe now. But before he leaves, Yuwen Yue stabs Zhao Xifeng in the thigh.
Under the king’s suspicious gaze, Yuwen Yue admits that he had injured Zhao Xifeng. The king brings up another matter regarding Yuwen Xi’s death – Yuwen Huai had reported that it was a maid from Qing Shan Yuan who killed his grandfather. Yuwen Yue tells him that with the power of Eyes of the God he can easily kill Yuwen Xi. He wouldn’t have used a maid to kill him. Further investigation will be needed to determine the truth. The king also asks if the last shot that cut off Yan Xun’s escape was shot by him. Yuwen Yue admits to it. Still suspicious of his loyalty, the king orders him to assists Yuwen Huai in the interrogation of Yan Xun. He threatens that if Yuwen Yue shows any mercy toward his friend, he will not show mercy toward Qing Shan Yuan.
After Yuwen Yue leaves, the eunuch reports that Yan Xun’s mother has arrived at the capital and is kneeling outside the palace.
Back in the prison, Yan Xun continues to reassure A Chu that his father will arrive at Chang An soon and everything will be okay. After they get out, he will help her find her two little sisters and take them back to Yan Bei with him. Yan Xun describes the beauty of Yan Bei and its greenery as tears streak down his face. He tells her about memories of his childhood and his siblings. How his big brother used to pick on him and his elder sister would chase his brother away with a whip to protect him. How they used to sneak in to see their mother when she was sick to find out that their dad was one step ahead of them. He tells her that Yan Bei is much more peaceful and loving than Chang An. He asks her again to come to Yan Bei with him. A Chu is touched hearing all this. She tells him that he better not lie to her and indirectly agrees to his request. Yan Xun sticks his hand over and she grabs on to it.
Wei Shu Ye barges in while his uncle enjoys a dance performance. He questions why his uncle would treat the Yan family like that. His uncle lectures him saying that this is a dog-eat-dog world. Only the strong survives. As the heir of the Wei family, Shu Ye must protect the family at all cost. If he is weak then the one dying will be his brother and sister. Even so, Shu Ye can’t accept that idealism and logic that his uncle has.
Yuan Song returns with news regarding Yan Xun and the Yan family. He tells Chun Er that Yan Hong Xiao is dead and tomorrow more Yan people will be executed. However, the decree did not mention the fate of Yan Xun. To save Yan Xun, Chun Er goes to beg the king. She shows a pair of baby shoes that Bai Sheng made for her. Chun Er begs her dad to remember the time when Yan Xun hunted a leopard and used the skin to make him an inner vest to keep warm. Chun Er: “You said that Yan Xun is more like your son than your own son. Will your heart not hurt if you kill him?”
Outside the court, the eunuch and Chun Er tell Bai Sheng that the king is willing to see her now. She silently gets up and walks in.
Chun Er rushes to the gate of the palace but a bunch of maids are there to block her. Her mom and her brother show up and ridicule her action. However, Chun Er is determined to go to Jiu You platform (execution place) to save Yan Xun no matter what. Her mom tells her that she can take her there but if Chun Er does anything that shames her status, she will kill off all the maids under Chun Er.
Everyone is gathered at Jiu You platform on the day of the execution. Zhao Dong Ting leads his guards to escort Yan Xun to the platform. Yan Xun slowly walks out of his cell and crosses A Chu’s cell. She grabs his leg to stop him from going. She tells him that he lied to her. “You said you wouldn’t leave me. That you would take me to Yan Bei with you.” Tears stream down her face.
Yan Xun crouches down and tells her that it’s dangerous for him to take her with him. She tells him that she killed Yuwen Xi. It’s more dangerous if she’s in the hand of the guards. If she goes with him, there might be a chance of survival. Yan Xun orders the guards to let her out but Zhao Dong Ting stops him. He walks back to his cell and says, “If you want me to go with you, then she goes too. If not then kill me here and now.” Zhao Dong Ting opens A Chu’s cell and lets her out.
Yan Xun grabs A Chu’s hand and the two walk out of the cell together. Outside the prison, they hear the gong ringing 36 times. 45 represents the death of the king and 36 represents the death of a relative of the royal’s family. “What comes must come.” In A Chu’s mind, she is ready to face the future together with Yan Xun.
—– END —–
Kappy: Such strong conviction in Yan Xun. The world can let him down, but he won’t let them down…
I can positively say that at this point in the story, the boys do adore Chu Qiao but at this stage in her life, Chu Qiao trusts these two men (well, less of Yue atm), but definitely not love. She has bigger things to worry about. I would also like to throw in my own analysis of how the boys show their love; it is reflective of how they were raised.
I haven’t talked much about Yuwen Yue mainly because in the novel he is nothing like the drama. He’s pretty much a wicked psycho and Xing Er intrigues him. The confrontation scene above is telling of their bond – he harshly commented on her “true face.” Despite them sharing a room and more screen time, he’s never privvy to her real face – only Yan Xun has seen her bouts of scheming ways. In the drama, he loves Xing Er the way he’s taught how to love. His grandpa raised and showed Yuwen Yue that love is about sheltering and molding that person into someone that fits your cookie cutter. So what does Yuwen Yue do? He created a Xing Er identity – an image he imposed on Chu Qiao, naming her and training her, having rules here and there about what she can and cannot do. This is love in his eyes and I don’t blame him since he’s only ever have one example of love to learn from. Therefore, their love story will only begin when he meets the real Chu Qiao later – the one who doesn’t bow down and say yes to his commands. Someone who challenges his principles and way of living and makes him become a better man. For now our Ice Prince has to learn the right way to love a person, you can’t create the perfect being, you have to love them for who they are.
Yuwen Yue and Yan Xun basically have opposite character arcs in the novel. One goes from bad to good, one goes from good to bad. By watering down Yue’s first story arc into a misunderstood puppy, they have essentially reduced his complexities and character pathos to that of a simple love interest.
Now onto Yan Xun and why he clutched my heart first in the novel and then here in the drama. The first time he met Chu Qiao, he ASKED for her name – he doesn’t give her a name like Yue did. And that attitude is attributed to having great parents – righteous general and a kind mother, the kind of mother who didn’t even question this girl’s social backgrounds, she only wanted him to be happy with the person he likes. The prison scene further affirms my love for Yan Xun because of how steadfast he is in wanting to know her name and her identity. Even in the depths of sadness and pain, he finds ways to reassure her, protect her. The smiles he kept having throughout prison killed me and the fact that she returns his pestering name-calling with a smile of her own truly implies how much having an identity means to her. And recalling back to episode 1, Chu Qiao said she would only tell him her name when she’s no longer required to “look” up to him.
They are finally on equal footing. But what a terrible time to have it acknowledged.