This is the best episode so far to showcase all 3 leads together. The chemistry is off the charts good and, well, you all should know how I feel about Yu Wen Yong by now.
Si Ye and his troops arrive at Jian Min Village and are preparing to burn it all to the ground. They say it’s because they want to get rid of the plague but really they are trying to burn out the King of Zhou who is probably hiding inside.
Xue Wu runs to the gates of the village and Si Ye’s eyes widen when he sees that it’s her. He says that he has to kill the village to stop the spread of the plague, but since Xue Wu is not from the village, she should come with him. Xue Wu refuses to leave the village, saying that every life is the same. Everyone has the right to live. A Guai watches the scene as he rests in the village.
This is not the way to treat illness. He, Si Ye, should be trying to find a cure instead of killing everyone who has it. One of Si Ye’s commanders barks that Si Ye is the General, and his word is Law. How dare Xue Wu disobey it? Xue Wu falls to her knees and begs Si Ye to let the people live.
Si Ye is moved but he also remembers that Xu Da, his closest friend, was killed by the King of Zhou. Si Ye had promised to find the killer. He can’t just let this village go. Si Ye tells Xue Wu that if she doesn’t cure the village in 7 days, then he will come back and burn everything to the ground. He orders the village be sealed, no one is allowed to leave. Si Ye and company depart.
Xue Wu tries to cheer everyone up by saying that while her medical knowledge isn’t that advanced, she does know how to stop people from getting sicker. The people are disheartened and do not take heart at her words. An old man asks her what good is hope? He is already 60 and all he has seen is misery and loss. Xue Wu doesn’t have an answer.
Si Ye is back at camp. He knows that the King of Zhou might very well be in that village, but since the plague has set in, the King of Zhou is going to stay put for now. Si Ye has also found a Zhou Spy. They will use the spy to lure the King out of the village.
That night they use the signal that the Spy had told them. It’s a very distinct sound and if the King of Zhou heard it he would know that his people are trying to find him. Si Ye and his troops lie in wait for the King to show up. A Guai, aka Mystery Man, wakes up to the signal and starts running towards it, even though he is weakened by fever and chills. Xue Wu sees him running and chases after him, trying to get him to go back and rest. He drags her along and they fall into a cave.
Xue Wu realizes that A Guai is burning up dangerously. She gives him water dripping from the underground cave and even kills a snake that was crawling towards them. In that dangerous instant, Si Ye thinks of Xue Wu.
Xue Wu takes care of A Guai through the night, using her sash as a wet cloth to cool his forehead, fanning him, making him comfortable. A Guai looks at her while she is busy trying to save his life.
The next morning, A Guai’s fever breaks and Xue Wu tells him that she didn’t think that he was going to last through the night. She realizes that the clean underground water helped him recover immensely. She realizes that the plague probably has something to do with dirty water.
Xue Wu and A Guai get rescued and taken back to the village. There she teaches the villagers how to filter their water through using cloth and rocks, so that the dirt can be filtered out. She also teaches them how to sanitize their homes.
She also teaches them how to clean dirt off their faces and body with oil (Did Xue Wu just invent facial cleanser?). She looks around and tells the villages, “For Example…” She pounces on A Guai and rubs the oil cloth over his dirty face. She happily tells him, look it’s so much better when clean. He goes to inspect his face, then runs away. It’s adorable.
They clean up the village, with A Guai helping the villagers thatch the roof and clean. He even rescues one of the men who nearly fell off a ladder. A Guai smiles at the children who thank him for rescuing their dad from the ladder, and Xue Wu couldn’t help but smile at his kindness.
A few days have passed, and Xue Wu sends a bucket of water to Si Ye. He and the rest of the fortress watch in wonder as they pour dirty water in and clean water comes out. Tai Shi remarks in wonder that Xue Wu is no ordinary girl; she can burn up military food stores by herself and now she can make clean water from dirty water. She may just be able to cure the plague. Just who is Xue Wu and where does she come from?
Meanwhile villagers go and collect more water for Xue Wu. While there A Guai hears that the river flows towards and through the Kingdom of Zhou. We see black pieces of cloth flow into the river. In the Kingdom of Zhou the Queen is given the same black cloth and recognizes it as part of the clothes of the King’s Guard. She deduces the king is alive and asks them to track the cloth back to the original river, since they know that the King is in Qi, and only one river flows from the area the King disappeared. She sends troops to go find the King.
Xue Wu is busy playing with the kids in the now healthier and cleaner village. The village elders thank Xue Wu and remark that she must be the Heavenly Maiden. For it is prophesied that when the people meet their darkest hour, the Heavenly Maiden will descend from the Wu Tribe and save the people of the Earth. A Guai listens with interest as everyone starts to believe that Xue Wu is the Heavenly Maiden, even though she protests.
Si Ye and An De Wang also find the black cloth and make the connection that these are from the King’s Guard. They are now sure that the King of Zhou is hiding within the Village. They surround the village since the seven days are up. Si Ye tells the villagers that there is a Zhou spy, and drags the people who are not from the village into a lineup.
Si Ye inspects the foriengers and stops at A Guai. He grips A Guai and throws him to the ground. Xue Wu comes to A Guai’s rescue and defends A Guai as a helpless, innocent and mute peasant. Who is Si Ye to bully him? Xue Wu is the one who had rescued A Guai and she is sure that A Guai is a good person. She berates Si Ye as acting like a despot and one of Si Ye’s soldiers raises a sword at Xue Wu, asking how dare she insult Lan Ling Wang.
At that moment, A Guai blocks Xue Wu from the Sword and screams, “Don’t touch her!”. The villagers and Xue Wu look at A Guai in astonishment at his first words. Si Ye smiles and orders that A Guai be dragged back to camp.
At camp, Si Ye talks to the tied up A Guai
Si Ye: Capturing you was easier than imagined.
A Guai: Are you sure I’m the person you’re looking for?
Si Ye: You could have hidden in Jian Min Village for a lot longer. Why did you show yourself?
A Guai: Every Hero has a hard time withstanding the test of a beautiful woman. When the woman I love is in danger how could I have stood down? When I was at my sickest, it was Yang Xue Wu who rescued me and hid me from your soldiers. In Jian Min Village she dressed me, bathed me, feared that I would never wake up, and…” Every word A Gaui says is taunting and derisive, willing Si Ye to act out of jealousy.
Si Ye grabs A Guai in anger and Xue Wu’s sash falls from A Guai’s pockets. Si Ye asks angrily where he got the sash, and A Guai smirks, “Where do you think?”
At that moment Xue Wu has come to talk to Si Ye. She asks how could he just take A Guai without any proof. Si Ye counters that A Guai is the one responsible for Xu Da’s death. Did she know that Xu Da had 37 arrowheads dug out of his body when he died? Xue Wu says that A Guai is innocent and that right now Si Ye is being unreasonable and cruel. She thinks that A Guai is even kinder than Si Ye. Si Ye grabs her and pushes her to a wall. He punches it beside her and is enraged. He tells her that she should never say that he is as good as someone else. Xue Wu is gullible and believes what is in front of her; he’ll show her the truth. Tomorrow he will force A Guai to compete for his life, if A Guai wins then A Guai leaves. If he loses then he dies.
The next day a tiger is brought out to fight A Guai to the death. Xue Wu asks frantically how Si Ye can call this a fair chance. How could anyone fight a tiger? Si Ye says that it is possible. A Guai fights the tiger hampered by a thick chain that restricts his movement. He is actually very, very good.
However while A Guai and the tiger are rolling on the ground, Xue Wu decides to help by grabbing a big spear and rushing into the guarded area. She fails in trying to spear the tiger and falls to the ground.
Si Ye rushes into the tiger pen after her. A Guai grabs a wooden stick and Si Ye takes the spear. They both stab the tiger at the same time. Xue Wu gets up and sees A Guai’s wooden stick protruding out of the tiger’s bloody neck, effectively killing the tiger. She recognizes that this was exactly how the innkeeper and the innkeeper’s wife died.
She backs away from A Gaui as she stares at him. Si Ye smiles coldly and says, “You’ve finally revealed your hand, King of Zhou, Yu Wen Yong.” Xue Wu stares and repeats his name as she gets up, “Zhou Wen Di, Yu Wen Yong, A Guai is the King of Zhou?”
Xu Da had told Si Ye that Yu Wen Yong had been in a bordering country trying to raise troops. Si ye remarks, “On your way back the plague had struck, killing all your men, it must be a miracle that Yu Wen Yong is still alive. Yu Wen Yong replies, “Is it?”
That moment, the Zhou Troops break through the fortress and try to rescue their king. They shoot arrows as Yu Wen Yong runs to his troops. Xue Wu sees Si Ye blocking arrows and then she sees Xiao Dong’s granny protect Xiao Dong by taking an arrow. Yu Wen Yong smiles devishly and tells his soldiers, “The Heavenly Maiden of Wu Tribe has emerged; take her back to Zhou!” He points to Xue Wu. Then, one of Yu Wen Yong’s general aims an arrow at Si Ye. Xue Wu runs to block the arrow only to have Si Ye grab her and block the arrow with his chest rather than have it hit her.
Yu Wen Yong runs back to Xue Wu and tries to grab her. She shakes him off, yelling “You tricked me! I trusted you and you tricked me!” He shoves a silver trinket into her hands and says, “I’ll be waiting for you in Zhou.” Yu Wen Yong takes off with his troops.
The arrow that hit Si Ye is coated with a lethal poison. An De Wang orders all the villagers and Xue Wu be arrested, saying that if Si Ye dies then everyone does as well. Yu Wen Yong meanwhile rides safely back to more awaiting troops and Yu Chi Jiong. They kneel and pay their respects to their king. Xue Wu tries to apologize to Xiao Dong who is mourning the death of his grandmother. He says that it’s not her fault. They all trusted the wrong person. It’s Yu Wen Yong’s fault.
Yu Wen Yong talks with his generals. It turns out that he is going to recieve the extra troops from the neighboring country. As for Lan Ling Wang, he’ll be busy trying to look for an antidote to that poisoned arrow. Yu Wen Yong remarks that it’s a pity that they were not able to take the Heavenly Maiden back with them. The legendary Heavenly Maiden has emerged. If he has the Heavenly Maiden, then he will have the world.
Thoughts: This show treats the idea of good and bad people as ambiguously as it can. While Si Ye is acting out of vengeance for his friend, he isn’t trying to be a good person. Instead he’s going to kill the whole village. One might argue that it is for the greater good, but Xue Wu’s argument makes him hesitate. As for Yu Wen Yong, I’m so glad he showed up that I can jump in joy. He’s now shown to be the King and it’s about time.
Here the lines between good and bad blur and that’s done rarely. Even in Zhen Huan, the innocent heroine transforms into a ruthless murderess because of the hardships she suffered. She goes from “good” to “bad” through the show. Yes, Xue Wu is always probably going to be good but at least Si Ye and Yu Wen Yong act like normal human beings with pulls to the darker side of their natures. Both are leaders, war lords, and to some extent, murderers. They both have to be heartless and cruel for their countries and yet there is something to be said that they are both good in their own way. Also, morality isn’t shoved downed the throat of the viewer by having each character repeat some trite phrase about “hard work” and “optimism” and even when Xue Wu does try to cheer people up, she is shot down immediately. While the over arching message of good (Xue Wu) can change the odds, it’s also true that neither male lead character is really better than the other. For now, Si Ye is earning brownie points because he’s not all about possessing the heavenly maiden to possess the world.
But there is something so delicious about the way Yu Wen Yong acts, it’s a sort of controlled madness that it makes him so enticing to watch. Everything Yu Wen Yong does is coldly calculative, every word he said to Si Ye during the interrogation was to incite a reaction, to goad and to injure. But when Yu Wen Yong was with Xue Wu, his sweetness and goodness and impulsiveness to save her comes out. He has no thought about his safety. Yu Wen Yong has never met a woman like Xue Wu who would save him time after time, since he has always been surrounded by people who want things from him. Xue Wu is one of a kind. This forms the basis of his attraction to her. I love that his first act is to try and capture Xue Wu. His ambition happens to collide with personal attraction. If given longer time he might have done so, but he let her go which ultimately shows that he has some decency (or maybe not, it’s too early to tell). He is remarkably different from Si Ye who wants Xue Wu to be safe above all. Yu Wen Yong is about power and acquisition which he has learned from birth.