"I read these scenes a bit differently".
Excellent. I always value different views. They usually make the greatest writing prompts.
I've mentioned before, I don't doubt Xu Feng loves Jin Mi. However, his failure to communicate is an act inconsistent with his thoughts and feelings. We don't necessarily pay the consequences for our thoughts and feelings, but we do in action. Action = real world consequences. The fact that Jin Mi needed Xu Feng to verbally admit that he loved her points at her doubt that it is true. It may be true in Xu Feng's head, but he shouldn't have expected Jin Mi to read his mind. Fair enough if Xu Feng felt Jin Mi did not need to know. But I think there is a difference between communicating your feelings in the moment versus the necessity to do so until it is too late - that road leads to regret. It may be a small thing, but Jin Mi would've been far happier even for the few moments before the battle and at the point of death if she knew for sure Xu Feng had forgiven her with an earlier admittance that he loved her.
Why does it take until the Heart Examining Stone to finally change his mind? He was changing it, but I agree it was changed at that point. These are the events that tried to convince Xu Feng:
1. Jin Mi at least three times. Understandably, she "killed him" and is not to be trusted. Which fails as a reason once Xu Feng is alive and speaking. Especially considering she brought him back to life. (I thought it was funny when Xu Feng seriously said: "she killed me". Me: you look pretty alive for a dead bird.) But I think Xu Feng couldn't trust Jin Mi because of the idea she 'betrayed' him with Run Yu more than she betrayed him by killing him.
2. Moon Immortal/his uncle. I couldn't see a reason for Xu Feng not to believe his uncle on the spot. Even when Jin Mi thought to marry Run Yu, his uncle always sided with Xu Feng.
3. His own phoenix feather. If Xu Feng thinks even his feather betrayed him, I take it that he doesn't even trust himself.
4. Liu Ying/demon princess. Loved her punchiness for saying it as it is. I think Xu Feng actually considered her words, because in the scheme of things, Liu Ying had no reason or agenda to side with Jin Mi and therefore was the most objective of all voices.
Point being: throughout #1-4, Jin Mi suffered for it. Considering Jin Mi was under emotional disadvantage due to the Heartless Pill and ultimately a pawn in Xu Feng's murder, she was a victim of the circumstance as much as Xu Feng. The difference being, she bore the full brunt of the punishment. If Xu Feng lashed out initially at Jin Mi and then went searching for the actual perpetrators behind his murder (i.e. Run Yu and Sui He), then I could accept that. Repeatedly hurting Jin Mi was unfair and wrong. Example: striking Jin Mi twice hard enough to make her vomit blood is unnecessary. If he had the power to do that, he could've struck her unconscious and sent her back home - this would've been possible even without magic or Run Yu's intervention. Looking like he regretted it or doing it for Jin Mi's good to keep her away doesn't take away from the fact that Jin Mi suffered directly from Xu Feng's actions.
I get that emotional challenges are not as straightforward as updating to a new OS. Great hurts take time to heal. I don't gainsay Xu Feng for having the need to do so. But if that journey means hurting the one you love repeatedly, I think that has crossed a line.
Jin Mi announcing that she wasn't in on the wedding is the truth. If she didn't make that announcement, her actions would say she was trying to ruin Xu Feng's wedding. That, or that she was trying to trick Xu Feng into marrying her. If Xu Feng didn't want his pride or heart to suffer, he should not have rejected Jin Mi earlier nor raged to the entire court: "Who brought her here!" It looked like to me from Jin Mi's reaction to these words that she was clearly unwanted. Considering the repeated rejections and the revelation that the wedding was a facade to trap Sui He, why would Jin Mi think Xu Feng would want her again? It's a case of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Reject someone enough, especially on the pain of death, and they won't believe you when you have seemingly changed your mind. Which runs full circle as to why Jin Mi said Xu Feng should've admitted his feelings earlier while she was dying.
As I've mentioned before, this entire part seemed like it was filmed as a disconnect from the story. So far, no one has proven Jin Mi innocent on her betrayal with Run Yu, and the evidence that has changed Xu Feng's mind is concentrated on who actually saved him and all that Jin Mi has sacrificed. Although movingly declared by the Moon Immortal, he really did gloss over a lot.
Xu Feng didn't have any hard evidence to go by to prove that Jin Mi conspired with Run Yu to kill him. Ironically mirroring what Jin Mi did to him. It all started and rode on when Run Yu told him it was so. Run Yu admitted to guilt on behalf of Jin Mi, and Xu Feng believed him. From that point on, he used it as a rationalisation to deny anything and everything about Jin Mi. The way I see it, Xu Feng was not afraid of Jin Mi conspiring on her own to murder him or killing him. I don't see Xu Feng as a person who couldn't get over personal hurts. He experiences enough of that in war. I think he was most afraid that Jin Mi was truly in cahoots with Run Yu. Because that may mean Jin Mi didn't actually love him. I believe it all comes down to that. Behind all his hurt and betrayal, the idea that he was living in a world where Jin Mi didn't love him would be the most unacceptable thing in his existence. To a certain extent, even faced with the possibility that Jin Mi was the one who revived him, wouldn't it be awful if he lived only to realise that Jin Mi did it out of guilt without love to back it up? I honestly think Xu Feng would rather remain dead. Rather than the emotional conflict, I actually think it was replaying the broken record of 'she doesn't love me' in exclusion of all else that ironically kept Xu Feng deaf to Jin Mi's pleas.
If Xu Feng chose to listen to the truth of Jin Mi's words when she said: "I'm sorry" and "I love you", he would've realised he got what he wished for. All he needed to do was choose to listen to her instead of his broken record. Just for once. It only takes once to turns things around. Regardless of what Jin Mi stands for, I can't see what more anyone can expect of someone who genuinely says "I'm sorry". I saw that as an opportunity and turning point. Xu Feng just chose to not take the opportunity. Hence the play on the words: "missed opportunity [or] wrong action" (the character for "wrong" features in both statements in the Chinese version). If Xu Feng was never wrong or missed an opportunity with Jin Mi, I don't think production would've made it a point to lead to this learning curve for Xu Feng.
I think Xu Feng did actually wish to fight. If Xu Feng had been cleared of the cold poison (he had the chance to but he refused Jin Mi's flower) and he recovered his power to 100% and still made no moves for war, then I would be convinced. We never got there, so we are at odds in speculation. But I agree the war was inevitable as Run Yu put the pressure on. Run Yu putting that pressure on doesn't automatically mean Xu Feng didn't wish to fight.
No, the safest place for Jin Mi was not with him in battle. If he truly believed this, I can't see why he could not have explained it to her. Even a: "Goddammit, I love you and need to keep you by my side" would've been more than enough to stop Jin Mi in her tracks and follow him willingly. While war is urgent, taking anyone onto a battlefield against their will is no excuse. Jin Mi didn't merely throw up a weak protest, she strongly struggled in refusal. A no means a no in my books. Love doesn't give license to ignore someone's "no". I actually have no problem with Jin Mi being at the battle per sec. I just preferred her to go on her own free will. Because that has already been messed around with for 4000 years of her young life.
The plan for defence always includes protection and/or escape for innocents (i.e. women, children, elderly and disabled). Far in advance. If Xu Feng couldn't trust his own defences to protect Jin Mi from being kidnapped by Run Yu, then that would mean he couldn't trust his own defences. While Xu Feng would be considered the current greatest power in the Demon Realm, a good defence doesn't necessarily mean guarded by the strongest man. Run Yu may be intelligent, but he has no fine understanding or detail of the Demon Realm. The advantage of location intelligence is on Xu Feng's side. In actual warfare, some of the best defences have been by stealth and enemy ignorance. It would also be possible that Puchi Jun and Moon Immortal are still within hailing distance. The combined power of these two would be more than enough to protect Jin Mi against all except Run Yu (who would be busy in battle).
Boasting about your wedding night in front of troops on the eve of battle: not cool. While Jin Mi declared to Run Yu she chooses to stay, don't forget she whispers to Xu Feng to basically stop it. What may've been proud boasting on Xu Feng's part was certainly not seen in the same light by Jin Mi. If he could run roughshod over her misgivings at this point, the only person I see enjoying the proud moment is him.
We will have to agree to disagree as to Xu Feng's motives for the war. If Xu Feng meant to provoke Run Yu to make a mistake, he doesn't have enough personal power to battle an enraged Run Yu. If you are prepared to incite a battle, gambling on limited firepower is well, foolish. Very unlike a seasoned war leader of Xu Feng's calibre. If he intends for Run Yu to make a mistake out of acting rashly, he underestimates Run Yu big time. It was mentioned earlier in the series that Run Yu can patiently wait under the longest pressure (I think it was during one of his chess matches with Luo Lin/Water God). He also has a fine sense of timing from the nature of his work as a Night God. Both these qualities make deadly war leaders. The one thing Xu Feng could gamble confidently on was that he was definitely more experienced in war than Run Yu. Even in combat. I could trust Xu Feng to win by this alone. Boasting about Jin Mi and revving the troops were all a set up to distract from this fact. I thought the provocation was a facade to keep Run Yu from remembering that Xu Feng is a seasoned War God. Keeping Run Yu's focus on Jin Mi means less focus on how to arrange your troops according to Xu Feng's only advantage. This was Jin Mi's use for the battle. It sounds terrible, and it puts Xu Feng in a bad light, but if Xu Feng was great along the way, what on earth would he have anything to feel guilty about? What would be the point of his redemption? Redemption means somewhere along the way, a serious mistake was made. Accidentally killing Jin Mi lacks gravity to a depth of redemption built on chances missed to make things right before anyone dying.
From Xu Feng forcing Jin Mi to battle, boasting about her, flinging her off his arm in frustration, and not saying her name out loud until it was too late (an indicator of cold silence linked to continued resentment), I can't say I'm convinced Xu Feng was fighting for Jin Mi in battle. He accidentally and tragically killed her, but I don't think that knight had his lady's token on his arm on the eve of battle. His love for her may've started to surface, but rage and revenge kept a lid on things. This is what makes what he did in the end truly tragic I believe.
I don't think the story would've lost impact if things ran like this:
Xu Feng admits clearly that he forgives and loves Jin Mi in his chambers. This matters because matters of the heart should be clear cut in their intentions. No beating around the bush. Because there is so much room for misunderstanding for something so important. If "let's start over again" was enough, Jin Mi would not have needed nor requested Xu Feng to say he forgives her or affirms that he is an idiot for finally admitting it [now]' at the moment of her death.
Xu Feng and Jin Mi on the same page emotionally. Jin Mi voluntarily following Xu Feng to battle. In the moments before the battle and leading up to Jin Mi's inevitable death, happiness is made all the more poignant because it is cut short with Jin Mi's death.
Xu Feng grieving because he tragically killed his own happiness and will stop at nothing until he finds Her again. Because Fate has nothing on a determined Phoenix who represents hope in rebirth.