It’s here! I only found out about this drama a week ago but let me tell you, it was a very long week lol I’m fairly new to Chinese Dramas. I was browsing an Asian drama website looking for a new Korean drama to watch when I happened upon Ice Fantasy. I devoured it. Thus started my budding crush on Feng Shao Feng. Of course it was only natural that I waited in anticipation for his next drama The Starry Night The Starry Sea, and now here I am waiting and watching The Starry Night The Starry Sea 2. The fall into Chinese Drama junky is a slow and steady one.
I have to say, one of the things that first drew me to The Starry Night The Starry Sea (besides Feng Shao Feng) was that the story was not about a mermaid but a merman. I would say that 99% of stories about merpeople are focused on a female. Be it the American industry such as the movies The Little Mermaid and Splash or the international industry such as the Korean dramas Legend of the Blue Sea and Surplus Princess. So the fact that this drama focused on a merman was immediately intriguing. Ok, enough chatter, let’s get this review started.
Episode 1 RECAP:
In voiceover a story is told about the beginning of heaven and earth when mermaids were born alongside humans. One ruled and spread over the earth while the other ruled the water. There was peace between the humans and merfolk for thousands of years until a merman met a human girl that he was destined to fall in love with. Their love pulled the humans and merfolk into a war. Finally, they asked the ocean how to fix the hatred that had grown between the two species. The ocean answered, “Sincerity.”
Lively music is heard as the camera zooms in on a celebration taking place on the docks. Three men stand in a place of honor as they watch the dancing dragons perform. Lu Xiao (actor Sunny Wang) comments to Lord Qin that he never imagined that during his absence the sea trade in Chang Le Town would prosper so and thanks him for his hard work.
Lord Qin graciously waves off the compliment saying that the real reason the sea trade has gone so well is due to the villagers and not himself. Building on this concept Lord Qin says that as Lu Xiao is now the new head of the Maritime Trade Bureau, he must achieve something great in order to bring even more prosperity to the village.
As soon as Lu Xiao accepts the challenge the two ropes holding the ship’s main sail breaks from the pulleys and starts crashing to the deck. Out of nowhere a man runs across the dock, flips onto the ship, and grabs one of the sail’s ropes in each hand. The man strains slightly as he pulls the sail back up. The crowd claps and cheers at the great feat of strength.
Curious Lu Xiao asks who the man is; his expression turning dark when the man is revealed to not be a man at all but in fact a merman who works at the shipyard. Oooh I don’t like the look Lu Xiao gives the merman one bit. If I had to guess I’m thinking he’s harboring some serious hatred toward the merpeople, this could get ugly guys. I know it’s early but I’m going to call villain for Lu Xiao. The command to set sail is given by Lord Qin. As the ship leaves the dock several mermen from the shipyard jump into the water (I guess to protect the ship during it’s journey by swimming under it?).
A couple deck hands lug two huge baskets from below deck. They place them on the deck next to the mast giving one basket a little pat before heading back down. As soon as the deckhands are out of sight our heroine, Lu Li (Haden Kuo), pops out of one of the baskets. Dressed as a deckhand she jumps out of the basket and calls to her handmaiden, Zi Xun, to come out of the other basket. You can tell by her nervous glances that Zi Xun wasn’t the mastermind behind the mischief.
Young miss is relishing being on the open sea and says happily that it’s her first time seeing the ocean. Zi Xun asks excitedly if young miss has heard that there are mermen among the ship workers and wonders what they look like. Her curiosity quickly turns to fear when young miss says all the enchanting things they’ve heard about merpeople in poems are wrong. According to young miss’s big brother, who has actually seen a merman, their’ faces are blue with large fangs and terrifying features. Cruel and horrible creatures they prey on fresh young girls.
Back in town a couple of beautiful ladies exit a shop. From the dramatic music I’m getting the hint that these two ladies are important somehow. They walk to the beach smiling at each other as the ocean comes into view. The happy scene is short lived as we see masked figures hiding behind the beach dunes. The ladies seem to sense their presence as well and pick up their pace.
We switch now to a grand manor where a teacher is bemoaning to someone that he has never had a student as mischievous as the person’ sister. Aha! The sister is young miss and the brother is Lu Xiao. Young miss isn’t at all phased by the teacher’s reprimand and even giggles proudly as he recounts a trick that she played on him that day during class.
Lu Xiao apologizes on behalf of his sister which pleases the teacher, only to have Lu Xiao turn it around to ask that he considers how boring studying inside all day must be for girl like his sister and to please conform his teaching style to better match the student haha Exasperated the teacher quits and young miss giggles happily then pretends her foot hurts when big brother begins to scold her for chasing another teacher away.
Suddenly romantic music starts as the scene goes to big brother lovingly caring for his sister’s “hurt” foot. He better not be in love with his little sister cus eww. Incest is not the best. Luckily the mood changes back into that of a big brother little sister relationship rather quickly. We find out that young miss is named Ah Li. It’s obvious that she has Lu Xiao completely wrapped around her finger.
Apparently, Ah Li and Lu Xiao’s parents died when they were both young. Their family used to be the ship makers of Chang Le but the business failed after the parent’s death. Ah Li tells her brother that seeing the ocean that day it was as if she was with their mother and father again. Lu Xiao tells her that she needn’t be concerned about anything now that he is the Maritime Trade Bureau Head, personally assigned by the imperial government. He will be the one to bring glory to their family, all she need do is live comfortably and marry well. Oh to be a woman during this time haha Aww they are so happy together, it breaks my heart a little because I know that no one ever stays that happy in a Chinese Drama!
The next day armored warriors line an island beach. Eight of the warriors leap onto a giant flat topped rock ready for battle. A man sits calmly on a throne watching the warriors. It’s Feng Shao Feng! The warriors kneel paying respects to Prince Feng Shao Feng (Character name is Wu Ju Lan). He’s so regal, I can’t handle it. The prince and the warriors fight. The prince clearly out matches them winning the battle with ease. Their sport is cut short when a messenger arrives with a summons from the king.
Entering what looks to be the mer-palace court, prince Ju Lan kneels before the mer-king. It is then that the king tells Ju Lan that the high priestess has gone missing. In a flashback we see the two ladies from earlier fighting the masked figures on the beach, eventually losing.
It’s imperative that the high priestess is found as soon as possible since she knows all the innermost secrets of the mer-people. Ju Lan is ordered to go to Chang Le Shipyard, the last place the high priest was seen, and investigate her disappearance. The king makes it clear that prince Ju Lan must investigate without letting anyone know who and what he is. With a sad look on his face the king states that he believes humans may be responsible for the prietess’ disappearance but hopes the investigation proves him wrong since the two species have lived in peace for so long.
Switch to a tavern in Chang Le where a man slowly descends the stairs, paper fan in hand, quoting poetry. Haha he’s making up his own poems and the crowds’ admiration quickly turns to mocking laughter. The scholar attempts to pay his considerable wine bill with a poem that he wrote. Once he becomes famous the poem is sure to be worth a great deal of money. Not willing to take a poem as payment the tavern owner demands that the scholar, whose name is Ma Da Chun (actor Li Chuan), pays him with good’ol cash instead.
As the other tavern patrons are teasing Dachun for being a nobody, handmaiden Zi Xun enters the tavern and offers Da chun as Ah Li’s tutor. Shocked to be offered such a prestigious job Dachun gleefully rubs it in the tavern patrons’ faces. The patrons have heard the rumors about young miss Ah Li and take bets on how long Dachun will last.
While walking to the Lu manor Zi Xun greets a man on the street with a patch over his eye. Terrified the man runs away, Zi Xun explains that the man was miss Li’s third tutor. Right after that encounter Zi Xun greets another man. This one has crutches and again hobbles away from Zi Xun in terror, He was miss Li’s fifth tutor. Bwahaha the horrible rumors about Ah Li are proving to be horrible facts right before Dachun’s eyes.
Zi Xun and Dachun arrive at the manor. Zi Xun opens the door to miss Li’s room but Dachun trips over the entry falling flat on his face. Embarrassed and scarred Dachun looks up to see miss Li staring down at him dressed in men’s clothes. Flustered Dachun wonders why he was told Ah Li was a miss when clearly Ah Li is a mister. All too calmly Ah Li says that it’s easier to sneak out and play when dressed as a man.
Ah Li is definitely up to something. She asks Dachun to sit and has Zi Xun bring him tea. When Dachun reads a poem to her, Ah Li enthusiastically applauds his talent. Be careful Dachun, girls aren’t this easy. Taking the bait hook line and sinker Dachun reads the next poem with even more gusto. Walking around the room and acting out each word for dramatic effect.
While Dachun is distracted Ah Li places an unknown powder in an incense burner then pushes it off the table. The incense burner breaks. Mortified Dachun rushes to help Ah Li clean it up. Ah Li rubs her fingers in the powder and then brushes it on Dachun’s cheek. At the other end of the room Zi Xun laughs silently as she opens a small basket containing bees. The bees fly into the room and head straight for the powder on Dachun. Dachun gets stung repeatedly before trying to run out of the room, only to run into the door instead making his forehead bleed a little. The sight of his own blood is too much for Dachun to take and he falls to the floor unconscious. With her new tutor out of the way Ah Li leaves the manor free to explore Chang Le.
Ah Li doesn’t get to enjoy the Chang Le market for long though as she witnesses a man steal an old woman’s money pouch. The thief takes off running when Ah Li yells at him to return the money. A chase through the street begins. Eventually the thief bumps into Ju Lan and hands him the money pouch while running passed. Ju Lan is rightly confused and of course Ah Li turns up as he’s looking at the pouch in his hands.
I cringe when Ah Li snatches the pouch from Ju Lan’s hand, calling him a brat and accusing him of trying to fool her by changing his clothes so she wouldn’t recognize him. Ugh, ok so I know that the main couple need to meet in a way that makes them dislike one another so that when they finally do get together its all the sweeter but come on! Please come up with a more realistic way of that happening. I swear, Ah Li is supposed to be a very intelligent young woman but then they go and suggest that she’s not smart enough to realize the person she was chasing is not Ju Lan. The thief would have to be one heck of a quick change artist for her theory to be possible. How many quick change artists turned thief do you know of? Anyway, rant over.
Ju Lan does not take kindly to being accused of theft. He yanks his hand out of her grasp. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He says throwing the money pouch on the ground and walking away. Ah Li is not about to let him off that easy and follows Ju Lan while scolding. After a couple seconds Ju Lan turns to glare at Ah Li for a moment before turning again to get away from the annoying person.
Ah Li however is determined that he face justice and pushes Ju Lan against a nearby tree. Ju Lan has had enough of her and causes the wind to pick up which startle Ah Li. Seeing that Ah Li is about to fall Ju Lan catches her by her belt and time freezes for a moment. Frustrated into action Ju Lan grabs Ah Li by the wrist and drags her to where the real thief is sitting at a nearby wine cart.
The thief sizes up Ju Lan for a second and then throws a punch. His arm is caught by Ju Lan who squeezes it until the thief drops all the money he’s holding. At that moment granny arrives and Ju Lan kindly returns her money to her. In disbelief Ah Li looks dumps the contents of the money pouch into her hand. Pebbles, the thief had switched the money for a handful of pebbles. Mortified she hands granny back her empty pouch. When the granny leaves Ju Lan glares at Ah Li again. Realizing her mistake Ah Li quickly flees the scene.
She doesn’t get away though. Ju Lan watches her from an alley and as payback for falsely accusing him Ju Lan makes it rain whenever Ah Li tries walking down the street. Lucky for her a handsome stranger comes to her rescue offering her his umbrella. The stranger says that the young man looks familiar (Ah Li is still dressed as a man) and asks her if they’ve met before. Ah Li says “Nope!” grabs his umbrella and leaves the poor guy standing in the rain. Why so mean Ah Li?
The young master is rescued when his servant shares his umbrella. Oh interesting, the servant says they should continue on their way to Master Lu’s manor to meet miss Li but the young master replies that there’s no need since Ah Li isn’t home. He recognized her!
Back at Lu Manor poor Dachun wakes up to find that Ah Li has “Gone out to play”. Handmaiden Zi Xun suggests that if Dachun can’t take being miss Li’s tutor he should just quit like the rest. If he quits though does he want to lose his arm or his leg? Nervously Dachun says he’ll stay. Dang Zi Xun, you are a pro at covering for Ah Li. Where was my Zi Xun when I was young and getting in trouble?
The scene changes to a merchant selling fish at the docks. A group of thugs approach and ask him for the month’s due. The merchant says he doesn’t have any money and begs the head thug for mercy. Lord Zheng, the head thug orders the merchant beaten.
The start kicking the man but thank goodness Lord Lu shows up with his guards. Lord Zheng does not take kindly to Lord Lu’s interference, “You’re new here and you didn’t even know to first build up your strength. I have lived in Chang Le for thirty years! None of the past eight heads of the Maritime Trade Bureau dared to touch me.” With that he orders his men to continue beating the merchant. Unintimidated Lord Lu has Lord Zheng arrested.
In a dark dungeon looking room Lord Zheng is forced to kneel before Lord Lu. Lord Lu asks in menacingly if Zheng recognizes him. Leaning down closer to Lord Zheng he says, “You don’t recognize me, but I deeply remember you!” This actor does intimidating so well! There’s a crazy glint in his eyes that makes me believe wholeheartedly Lord Lu is capable of following through with anything that he threatens.
Oh shoot, after the death of Lu Xiao and Ah Li’s parents Lord Zheng was the one who stole their family’s assets, forcing the siblings to live such difficult lives.
It’s not looking good for you Lord Zheng. Sensing his death may be near Lord Zheng begs Lu Xiao to spare his life saying that he will repay Lu Xiao for all he took. Lu Xiao just laughs, “Let us trade. I heard that you love money. Today, I won’t take your money. I want your flesh! The Lu family shipyard is worth 200 pieces of gold in the current market. One piece of your flesh will equal ten pieces of gold. As long as you dare to cut of 20 pieces of flesh, I will spare your life.” Damn, Lu Xiao you are one scary dude.
Lu Xiao’s right hand man comes from behind and drops a knife at Lord Zheng’s knees. Lord Zheng picks up the knife and for a moment it looks like he’s really going to start hacking off pieces of himself. Instead Lord Zheng lunges at Lu Xiao with the knife but is disarmed in a couple quick movements. Lu Xiao kicks him to the floor. Snarling is heard as two mean-looking dogs are led into the room. They sit patiently waiting for their master’s order. Lu Xiao turns his back on Lord Zheng and walks in between the dogs towards the exit. “Release,” he shouts and the scene ends on Lord Zheng’s screams.
At the beach near the shipyard Ju Lan finds a piece of the high priestess’ necklace that was broken during their kidnapping. In the distance a work bell rings signaling that the shipyard is hiring. Of course Ah Li is front and center to apply. There’s only one catch, those interested in the job must pass a test.
A couple of the crowd begin to tease Ah Li for her small frame saying that she/he would be better suited as a dancer than a shipbuilder. Ah Li counters that even though she may not be as strong as the other men she is definitely smarter. To prove it she names the town that a ship at the docks has just arrived from and how she knew due to the tides and direction of the wind. Everyone is impressed and starts singing her praise, that is until Ju Lan shows up and says that the ship at the docks is not from Dong Ying as she said but is actually from Tian Ju. A typhoon out at sea had caused the boat from Dong Ying to be delayed and would not be arriving for another ten days.
Ah Li calls Ju Lan stupid fish eyes. Bahaha that’s so mean but so funny! I love how it seems like he’s not even offended by her insults anymore. Ju Lan also mentions that there will be no high tide today since he controls when the tide comes and goes. Miss Lu scoffs at his arrogance and tells him that he better be prepared to backup all his bragging.
The boss’s right hand man announces that the test for joining Chang Le Shipyard will be held at the docks in two hours. He personally invites Ju Lan to try out. A little ways away the handsome young master watches Ah Li stroll by in men’s clothing. His servant guesses by the way young master looks at Ah Li that she is miss Lu dressed as a man. Young master confirms it and says that Ah Li was always a playful person and that if she wants to play then he will play along with her.
Down at the docks it’s announced that the test is about to begin. We finally learn that the third man standing beside Lord Lu and Lord Qin in the episode’s first scene is the current owner of the Chang Le Shipyard, Boss Liu Man Tang. Boss Liu says that the test is steering a ship. The recruits will be put on a ship a little ways off shore. If the recruits can steer the ship back to the dock then they will be hired immediately.
Out at sea the recruits complain about how easy the test is, that is until an arrow is fired from the dock and severs the rope holding up the ship’s sail. The sail hardly has enough time to crash onto the deck before two more recruits come up from below shouting that there is a hole in the bottom of the ship. Everyone on the ship including Ah Li and Ju Lan race below deck to see the damage. There are at least 4 good sized holes gushing water into the ship. Ah Li discovers the holes had been put in the ship before they even set sail. The holes had been plugged with rice which was now falling apart.
Calmly Ju Lan says that this must be the real test, steering a broken ship back to shore. Unwilling to risk their lives for a job several of the recruits forfeit, jumping overboard to swim back to the docks. Back at the dock Boss Liu frets that it looks like they won’t be hiring very many people this year either. His right hand man isn’t worried and tells Boss Liu that he’s sure Ju Lan will do great.
Sure enough Ju Lan is taking control of the remaining recruits on the ship and assigning them tasks. He tells Ah Li to plug the biggest holes in the hull and use her body to do it. He leaves with two other recruits to fix the sail. This is not the task that Ah Li was hoping for, “Stupid fish eyes! Using me as a human sandbag! You just wait.”
Episode 2 RECAP:
Side note: From here on out when miss Lu is dressed like a man I will refer to her as Ah Li. When she is dressed as a woman I will refer to her as Li Lu. Hopefully this will clear up some confusion.
We start right where we left off. Ju Lan and the strongest man among the recruits race to the deck to try and get the ship’s sail back up. The man puts the rope in his mouth and slowly starts climbing the mast while Julan watches from the side. Cut to Ah Li going nuts trying to block 4 gushing holes in the ship’s side. She doesn’t have enough hands to stop them all and calls for help. The recruit is still climbing the mast and apparently Julan is done waiting since he rips off his shirt (I’m ok with this plan) wraps another of the sail’s ropes around a spear and hurls it over the top of the mast. The spear carries the rope right over the bar holding the pulleys. With a giant leap he flies passed the climbing recruit, grabs the dangling spear and pulls the sail up. With great strength Julan stabs the spear into the deck to keep the sail up in the wind.
Ok, it’s not that I don’t love a shirtless Feng Shao Feng and maybe it’s the camera angle but he looks a bit scrawny in this scene. Not that I can talk since I have the exact opposite problem with a couple extra pounds on my bones. Moving on.
Seeing this from the shore (Do these people have super vision or what?) the shipyard employees and second in command clap and cheer Julan like crazy. The second in command cheers so enthusiastically that Boss Liu gives him the side eye.
The sail fixed, shirtless Julan runs to where Ah Li is still struggling to plug the holes in the ship. Seeing that she has plugged to lower breaches but there are two more one on each side of her head, Julan doesn’t hesitate to use his hands to slow the leaking. The two end up just inches away from each other’s faces. (This is more like it!) Of course Ah Li freaks out that Julan’s face is so close they’re practically kissing and shouts that she wants to trade places with a recruit that’s stopping a leak on the other side of the ship lol. Julan just thinks Ah Li is being a nag and tells her to concentrate on blocking the holes. “You’re not wearing any clothes!” she shouts in protest. He yells back in her face, “If you find it hot, you can remove yours, too!” (Don’t tempt me Feng Shao Feng).
Oh darn, all too soon the ship makes it back to the dock and the test is complete. Everyone leaves the boat praising Julan as their savior. Everyone except Ah Li that is who vows to get revenge.
At Lu Manor Dachun nervously asks Zi Xun what will happen if Lord Lu comes back to find Li Lu gone. I’m a bit confused about how much time has gone by since she left the manor. The first episode made it seem like at least a day or two had passed but if that’s true and Lord Lu hasn’t checked on his sister yet then that’s child neglect right? Maybe we are supposed to believe that all this has happened in one afternoon?
Zi Xun happily says that nothing will happen to Li Lu if Lord Lu finds her missing but Dachun will lose his job. They hear someone approaching and rush to see if it’s Li Lu, but it’s Lord Lu and his right hand man instead. Panicked Dachun chokes back a sob. One of them must have thought fast though because as Lord Lu approaches the door he hears Dachun teaching a lesson. Lord Lu looks through a window and sees the through a paper screen Dachun lecturing and what looks to be his sister Li Lu quietly sitting at her desk reading along. It’s actually Zi Xun reading but you can’t see any details through the screen. Lord Lu is impressed his sister is behaving so well and leaves happy with her progress.
The test results are posted on a billboard in front of the shipyard. Ah Li is thrilled to have passed and even got the second highest score but her mood sours when she sees that Julan got the highest score. Hehe. Not at all surprised that he got first place Julan casually starts heading to the shipyard. Ah Li spots him passing by and runs after him. She asks his name and Julan answers by asking why she is so interested in him. “If I don’t know your name, how do I exact vengeance on you?” At least she’s honest.
Humored by her response he gives his name, “Julan.” Now she asks for his surname and again he gives her a one word answer, “Wu.” Apparently Wu can either be a surname or it can mean “none”. I bet he was telling her that he has no surname but she takes it as his surname being Wu. Wu Julan, wasn’t that his name in the first season of Starry Night Starry Sea? I see what you did there show, well done. Frustrated that Ah Li didn’t understand him Julan just walks away.
We see the high priestess chained to the wall in a giant cave. The high priestess and her student are surrounded by chains and spikes covered in green ooze. It’s Angel’s Trumpet poison. Boss Liu walks into a secluded building in the mountains. Just outside the dungeon where the high priestess and her student are being held we see Lord Lu standing behind a rock, out of sight of the two prisoners. (I knew it! I called villain and you are indeed! Shame on you.) With a nod of approval from Lord Lu, Boss Liu apologizes for being so rough with the priestess.
Not in the mood to play games the high priestess asks Boss Liu what he wants. He smirks,
“I want to ask you one thing. In ancient books, it was mentioned that there was a huge ship in the Eastern Seas called Canming. The ship is 80 feet long. It can travel day and night. Not only can it accommodate tens of thousands of people, it will never sink. The beings that know how to make one are only the merpeople. High priestess, how does one build a Cangming that will never sink?”
Lord Lu peaks around the boulder to hear the priestess’ response. He doesn’t get it though and the priestess scoff that she didn’t think humans would fall for such a ridiculous lie. Undeterred Boss Liu asks her again. When she doesn’t answer Boss Liu tells her to think about it for a while then leaves.
The shipyard’s second in command welcomes the new employees with a speech and a tour of the shipyard where they build and assemble the different components of a ship. The tour ends with the second in command pointing out the group of mermen that also work for the shipyard. He says that they are treated the same as the humans and work peacefully together with their merbrothers. Second also mentions that merpeople have a great love of wine. Maybe that will be important later? The merman who saved the ship’s sail from the first episode is there among the mershipbuilders and he gives Julan a long hard look when he walks by. Does he sense that Julan is his prince?
During dinner Second in Command eagerly fills Julan’s rice bowl with food and his ears with praise. Out of the eight rears that he’s worked at the shipyard he has never seen someone as naturally talented at shipbuilding as Julan. Second vows to give him the best training and lodgings they have. But Julan doesn’t seem very interested and instead his gaze wanders over to the table where his fellow mer-people are eating. Ah li is sitting next to Julan and the look of annoyance on her face as Second fawns over Julan is hilarious.
True to his word Second leads Julan and Ah Li to a large private room where they will be staying. There’s only one bed which Ah Li notices right away and protests that she cannot and will not share a bed with Julan. In fact she’d rather sleep in any other room and runs off to find the other employees’ rooms. As soon as she enters the other room declaring “I want to live here!” Her jaw drops. The other men sleep eight to a room and all but one are relaxing with their shirts off. They’re all too happy to accept Ah Li into their room and she’s just in time to all go take a bath together. Ah Li quickly decides that she’ll take her chances sharing a room with Julan. Run girl, run!
The next day both Ah Li and Julan and put to word in the wood working area building a part of a mast. Julan’s part is beautifully crafted. Ah Li’s part looks like a complete mess. So when the rest of the workers stop to get a drink Ah Li switches hers with Julan’s to get even with him for all the times he’s bullied her. Of course as soon as Julan comes back and he realizes his part has been taken and swapped for another. He tells Second, whom we’ll now call Manager Li. Looking over at Ah Li, Julan recognizes his work calling Ah Li out as the culprit. Ah Li denies it but Julan is one step ahead of her. He proves Ah Li’s guilt to Manager Li by pointing out the symbol he had carved to mark his work. Caught in her lie Manager Li scolds Ah Li for her attitude and for betraying the workers trust. As punishment, she has to clean all the shipyards’ chamber pots. (That is cruel.)
Outside the shipyard walks alongside his servant who’s pushing a cart of merchandise. Young Master is dressed in a food merchants clothes ready to play along with Ah Li’s charade. If she is pretending to be a man and a ship builder then he will pretend to be a food seller. (If you can’t beat’em, join’em?)
Ah Li gags as she cleans a particularly nasty chamber pot. She quickly turns her head to smell the bunch of flowers she’s taped to her upper arm. As she turns there’s Young Master about a foot away from her, just staring. Haha that’s not creepy.
She recognizes him as the man who lent her the umbrella. Ah Li notes that he was dressed as a nobleman that day but now how is dressed like a merchant. Young Master makes up an excuse that he was going to see a particularly important person that day and so had to dress in his best. She accepts this and goes back to cleaning the chamber pots. Shocked the Young Master asks if she doesn’t want to know who this very important person is. Ah Li replies that it has nothing to do with her so why would she want to know.
A bit exasperated now Young Master moves her out of the way so he can clean the chamber pots for her. His noble gesture lasts about one second until he gets a whiff of the chamber pots. Aww he’s so cute. He continues to clean the chamber pots in the daintiest way with a disgusted look on his face. After he’s done cleaning Ah Li thanks him but wonders why he did such a thing for her when they are only acquaintances. Young Master introduces himself as Xiao Xiang Gong (Xiang Gong means husband. Hint hint Ah Li.) She thinks it’s a weird name and recalls that she had a childhood friend who was also named Xiao Xiang Gong. Xiao’s face brightens at the thought that Ah Li still remembers him.
In one of the shipyard’s storage rooms the merman who was staring at Julan earlier formally greets the prince. He is Royal General Jing Lin. Aha so he did know who Julan was from the beginning. General Jing Lin was ordered by the king to work at the shipyard and has been secretly protecting the mershipbuilders for over a year. Julan explains his reason for working at the shipyard, to find out what happened to the high priestess. He asks for General Jing Lin’s help and tells him to keep his identity a secret for now.
Back in her room Ah Li undresses. As she is unbinding her breast Julan barges into the room sending her into a panic. She grabs all her clothes but drops the binding. Curious Julan picks it up and asks what the cloth is for. “This… I’m keeping it to hang myself! If you get me fired one day, I’ll go kill myself!”
A couple hours later Julan is throwing arrows into a vase as other ship workers gather around him praising his skill. Ah Li watches from the side. Julan stops when he sees her and his eyes drift to Ah Li’s chest. Does he know?! Leaving the game he approaches Ah Li with just a hint of a smile on his lips. They look at each other for a second. Julan reaches for Ah Li’s chest. Frightened Ah Li drops the bowl she was holding and covers her chest protectively. “Wu Julan! I never thought that you’d be into this sort of thing! You even go after men!”
Poor Julan! He slowly drops his hand. Having heard Ah Li’s accusations the other ship workers leave their game to see what’s happening. With a sigh of frustration Julan grabs her vest sleeve which had fallen down around her arm and places it back on her shoulder. Hey, I would’ve thought he was going for the goods too so I don’t blame her for misunderstanding. The ship workers complain that she made such a huge scene over nothing.
That night Julan rolls out his bedding. Ah Li bursts through the door holding a jug of wine. She takes a couple swigs as she walk over to the bed. Julan just tries to ignore her and goes back to fixing his bedding. Acting inebriated Ah Li offers to take Julan to the brothel and get him a woman for the night. Offended that Julan is ignoring her Ah Li slams the wine jug down on the bed saying that her toughness is admired by officials and gangsters alike. To prove it she rolls down her sleeve revealing a tattoo on her forearm.
“It’s smudged.” Ahaha! I love Julan’s one word answers to her craziness. Caught again in a lie Ah Li wonders if her act was enough to convince Julan of her manhood.
As the sun sets we see the high priestess getting hit repeatedly by a stick across the stomach? Boss Liu watches the torture and the priestess’ student begs for her master. Boss Liu finally stops the beating. He asks if the priestess is willing to tell him the secret of building Cangming. The priestess warns Boss Liu of the war he is starting between merpeople and humans. “I urge all not to play with fire and burn yourselves.” With that she spits blood and passes out.
Unnerved by the priestess’ words Boss Liu asks Lord Lu if his reason for building Cangming is to use it to destroy the merpeople. Lord liu is not at all pleased that his minion is asking questions. He warns that curiosity might just cost Boss Liu his life.
Inside the priestess regains consciousness. The two captors agree that they must escape somehow and get word to the merpeople of the human’s plan.
Rain pounds the Lu Manor. Lord Lu sleeps fitfully as lightning flashes, lighting up his room. He dreams of a ship caught in a storm out at sea. Below deck a family huddles together. Suddenly something crashes through the deck and lands a few feet from the cowering family. It’s two mermen fighting each other with their full strength. Cargo flies towards the family hitting the mother on the back, killing her instantly. The older child is cut on the wrist but he’ll be ok. The battle between the two mermen continue, their kicks putting holes in the ship’s hull. Water rushes in but the mermen simply fly off the ship to continue their fight. Knowing the ship is doomed the father places the boy in a wooden barrel. Gently he hands the boy his baby sister and tells the boy to live and take care of his sister, Ah Li. Ugh I get why Lord Lu hates merpeople so much now. It doesn’t excuse his actions, but I get it.
Ah Li sneaks into the bathhouse late that same night. She scans the building quickly to make sure she’s the only one there. Her bath is interrupted when Julan enters. With nowhere else to hide Ah Li takes a deep breath and goes under the water. Julan looks at the bath for a moment before taking off his shirt and putting it aside to keep dry. Using that brief distraction Ah Li resurfaces and blows out the candle next to the bath. Now Julan is suspicious, “Who is it?”
Ah Li holds her breath underwater. Keeping his eyes focused on the bath water Julan circles the bath to get a better look. Sensing her chance Ah Li jumps out of the tub, grabs Julan’s discarded shirt (Oh no!), and runs out of the room.
“The fog inside the bathing area was so thick. He most likely did not see me, right?” Ah Li paces in her room. She stops pacing when Julan comes into the room, a shirt slung over his shoulder. Julan walks up to her, tosses the shirt into her lap and says, “You took my shirt.” Busted!
Of course Ah Li tries to deny it but all Julan does is pull the hairpin from her hair. Why does a girls’ gender immediately become apparent when her hair is down? Men during this period also had long hair so why does having her hair down automatically confirm she’s a woman? Anyway, the jig is up. Ah Li yells that Julan is despicable and shameless.
“Talking about having no shame. Who was the one who disguised herself as a man and slept with me on the same bed and even took a bath together with me?” Touche. Calm as can be Julan picks up his bedding and relocates it to another part of the room. Does Julan ever lose his temper? He’s so calm and even tempered all the time. That would infuriate me lol
The next morning Manager Li greets Ah Li in her room. Ah Li immediately assumes that Julan has already told Manager Li about her being a girl and braces herself to be kicked out of the shipyard. Instead Manager Li is only there to verify her work permit. She hands it over. Next it’s Julan’s turn to have his work permit checked. By the concerned look on his face I’m thinking he doesn’t have one. It seems that Ah Li is used to counterfeiting such documents and she quickly draws one up for Julan.
Satisfied with the work permits Manager Li leaves. Seeing as how they both have secrets to keep Ah Li suggests that she and Julan become allies and help each other make sure their secrets stay secrets. Cutely they seal the deal with a pinky promise.
Cut to a not so sweet scene where a son is kicking his elderly mother from his home shouting that he is no longer able to provide for her. Lord Lu witnesses this and kicks the son to the ground when the son tells Lord Lu to mind his own business. Not having the privilege of growing up with a mother Lord Lu lectures the ungrateful son for not cherishing the blessing he’s been given.
The son’s attitude immediately changes, “It’s not that I don’t want to support her. I have six mouths in my family that need to eat and they all are just relying on my work. I really am unable to support her anymore.” Lord Lu considers the situation for a moment before nodding to his right hand guard. The guard takes a piece of gold from his purse and throws it to the man.
“Once you take this money, you must treat your mother well from now on. Or else, I will not forgive you that easily. Auntie… if your son makes things difficult for you again, go to the Maritime Trade Bureau to find me.” Darn it, I really don’t want to like you at all Lord Lu, but this was really sweet.
Ah Li struggles to push a heavy wheel barrow through the shipyard. Seeing her struggling Julan puts down his work. Walking up behind her Julan grabs the wheel barrow handles and takes over pushing the heavy load. Ah Li helps as best she can and the two roll the supplies down to the beach.
————— End of Episode 2 ——————–
Mel: These episodes seemed really fast paced to me. I mean in the first 45 min the main couple met, hated each other, and started working at the shipyard. I’m surprised how quickly Julan discovered Ah Li is a woman. The secret barely lasted two episodes. This drama is moving so rapidly that I wouldn’t be shocked if the two main characters are desperately in love by the end of episode 3.
You know what always surprises me? In gender bender dramas the main characters always start out hating each other, then as soon as the main guy discovers that the annoying roommate is actually a girl the main character immediately finds the annoying behavior acceptable and even cute. Does that seem wrong to anybody else? Like the writers are saying that it’s not ok for a man to be weak or moody but it’s expected if you’re a woman? Haha sorry, sometimes these drama trigger my inner feminist.
Truth be told I am disappointed with Ah Li’s character. She was an annoying spoiled brat through the whole episode. I really hope that she grows and matures through the rest of this drama because right now I’m tempted to fast forward through all her scenes.
I’m really glad that we were able to see why Lord Lu hates merpeople so much. The best villains still have to be relatable in some way. He blames the merpeople for the death of his parents and therefore the loss of the shipyard which led to poverty and a rough life. It doesn’t make me like Lord Lu but no I can offer a little sympathy. I am curious why the two mermen were fighting and wonder if that will be revealed later on.
What do you all think? Do you like the fast pace of this drama? Do you empathize with Lord Lu at all?
See you all for episode 3!