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40somethingahjumma

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  1. It's not so much his patriotism that I admire although I appreciated his commitment to the betterment of the ordinary folk. It's more the fact that he was principled in the face of tremendous obstacles that made him one of the special ones. But I didn't expect anything less from the same WJ who faced off MJ on GMD, who allowed himself to be hurt by people repeatedly in order to keep the peace. My reaction to the final reunion was relief. Not that I doubted that they would be together but my relief was over the fact that he was truly free to live the kind of life he wanted with the woman of his choice without having to answer to some elder or committee. I think it was telling that he didn't walk away reactively (in his case, the plots and schemes of others) but he chose to walk away on his own terms, at the time of his choosing. By doing so, WJ showed himself to be a truly free agent because his conscience is clear and most importantly... there are no regrets... no second guessing. By not reacting on impulse, he earns his freedom. It always fascinates me in this version that it is so obvious that WJ is besotted with ZM from the early days. The camera is quite insistent on that. So the issue is never about how much he loves her or vice versa. She knows, he knows. He knows that she knows. However, the prospect of that romance is still a disruption to his principles and goals. It isn't just secondary to national concerns, it challenges his ability to stay focused on the path at every turn. The girl in question is all kinds of "unsuitable" but there's no doubt she moves him in a way that none of the other girls do. The goal is never the romance... at least not here... the goal is to find the balance to act as a free agent without compromising his core principles.
  2. Oh wow, Lauren... I haven't heard that song in years. A vestige from the past blasting through. But it works rather well with the editor's compilation. I feel like such a voyeur... or to put it more colloquially.. a perv... watching that clip. (The comments streaming at the top of the screen were also a laugh and a half as well) For a kid of his age, Joseph performed admirably. At least it looks heartfelt and authentic especially the gulp at the end. Some of the fan comments below thought our boy got a bit rough but hey... it was his confession for crying out loud and it fits with his boyish passion for life. It was his way of letting her know the depth of his feelings. Enjoyed the music choices. Had a good chuckle after the fourth one. The third one had a Celine Dionesque sort of feel to it. It reminded me of her rendition of The Power of Love. I can't speak for anyone else but for me this is the best version that I've seen because the show treats the characters like multidimensional creatures ie. real people... except for Chen Kun perhaps but everyone needs a villain they can hate... and avoids caricaturizing the characters with simplistic notions of "good" and "evil". The show did a brilliant job IMO developing character motivations and relationship dynamics particularly that between WJ and the men in his life. Also it played out that good vs evil theme in a highly sophisticated, consistent manner right to the bitter end. It's interesting to me too that the drama did not sanitize the Ming cause or demonize the Mongolian leadership... I hope it is veiled political reaction/statement about the current regime in the mainland because the country's going backwards in many ways. I won't deny that I enjoyed the romance and loved the interactions between WJ and ZM. I loved the light-hearted moments in the early days when they bickered and I also enjoyed the angst... which I believed allowed Joseph to come into his own as a performer. So while I miss the humour of previous versions that came after their coupling... I think there's a trade off which isn't too bad. They are probably the best WJ and ZM combination for me because of how their respective trajectories intersect. It gave them both a depth I'd never experienced before from other versions. I used to think it was just WJ who had to grow up but this version also demonstrated that she had to go on a similar path. In the end I suspect that they both learned that freedom is something that has to be earned.
  3. I suppose that if I thought the romance was the primary goal of this story then I can see how WJ might appear to be an unworthy fellow. Except that a) I don't think romance is the main driver of the plot and b) I don't think of love within the category of something that is earned. I can't say if WJ is undeserving of ZM... I imagine that's for her to decide ultimately. My view is that for WJ romance is largely a complication in what would otherwise be a straightforward trajectory. It's true that in this version they dwell far more heavily on the melodrama than in previous ones making the WJ-ZM star-crossed theme far more of an issue in how the rebellion and overthrow plays out. Rather than taking the easy way out, I think the show takes a far more circuitous... more painfully realistic route. It isn't just a cross-cultural relationship gone awry... there are so many issues that this version surprisingly doesn't skirt... the xenophobia, conflicts of interests, the cost of war, the dark side of brotherhood. Speaking of earning one's stripes, I'm more inclined to think that this adaptation makes WJ earn his right to walk away more than any other. His patriotism stripped everything away from him including the woman he loved. He paid such a high price for the war against the Mongolian overlords. And yes it was war make no mistake even if the budget makes it look like some local skirmish. What's that old adage: "all's fair in love and war". Besides, didn't JY write three different endings for YTTLJ at various points in time depending how the pendulum was swinging in his state of mind... yeah... I don't think writers should be allowed to diddle around a published piece of fiction either. But since he set a precedence... I can't blame the director or writer for following suit.
  4. I've seen the negative comments here and on YT and I just can't agree. Even though some aspects of the last 10 episodes does feel a bit rushed, I'm fine with the ending. C dramas are notorious for having the worst kind of resolutions and YTTLJ 2019 is absolutely NOT one of those. In fact, I would say, in the history of C drama endings, this was actually quite okay. (Of course it may be just a case of low hanging fruit ) The show's development particularly of WJ's arc has been entirely consistent from the start and the ending we got was foreshadowed on several occasions so it's not like it came from nowhere. (Except for the demise of Xie Xun which was quite unexpected) Although this YTTLJ made significant changes especially towards the end, I generally appreciate the overall feeling of realism. So the Ming sect are made up largely of scoundrels that have no compunction about backstabbing their leader at the opportune moment should come as no big surprise. Just because WJ was able to rally them around his personality, it didn't turn them all into obedient boy scouts. Once they all had a taste of power, they did what many have done in history. It's the usual game of thrones conundrum. I also like that this version makes it abundantly clear to me why WJ should never rule. It's not as if this hasn't come up before. Heaven blessed him with the skills/ability to learn martial arts and placate angry, jealous women but Heaven didn't give him the wherewithal to be the sovereign. He didn't want to anyway. He certainly didn't want to be the sect leader in the first place but he was emotionally blackmailed time and time again. People even his own family used his best qualities against him. That's why I think ZM is such a shining light because she always wanted him to be free to act according to his heart. His innate goodness and naivete was always a double-edged sword but it was consistently played out. The boy can't play politics and so he shouldn't rule. Period. Besides he was always just a happy-go-lucky kid who wanted to roam the world and help people. To me the romance was absolutely necessary to the story because ZM is the outlier that keeps reminding WJ of his true self. When he is with her, he is free to be himself. His role in the story essentially is to unite the martial arts community and he was on board with that because he's a patriot. She, on the other hand, represents the urgings of his own heart and the freedom that he craves. Everyone has plans for WJ from being leader of the Ming sect to who he should marry. All of which goes against the grain for him. But ZM keeps popping up reminding him of who he is and what he truly wants out of life... the freedom... the simplicity... to really help people with his skills. I won't deny that he's quite frustrating. Even though I think he's an utter idiot about the depravity of his fellow human beings, it is admirable that he never loses himself in the plots of other people. He manages to stay above it all. Of course to have a woman who understands him by his side helps... considerably. That's why I think this YTTLJ has the most consistently drawn WJ that I've seen. Politics and war are undoubtedly messy. He can fight the war but he cannot do politics. So exit Sect Leader Zhang... Enter Zhang Wuji, the wanderer. He's come full circle. He started life off the island as a wanderer and he has finally returned to that life with ONE woman. Politics is for other people to sort out. It makes sense that he would leave only after doing his bit and disillusioned. Thematically the show is fine. Apart from a bit of choppiness in the last few episodes, the show ended in a way that makes sense considering what's come before. But the martial arts sequences... sigh... for a wuxia drama, it's so pedestrian and so stingy. In this day and age it's probably not that controversial. But I disagree. Marriage is absolutely one hundred percent about commitment. You can't be more committed than to publicly tell the world "Till death do us part". It's always been about commitment even if it is just a social contract and there's not a lot of love to begin with. That said, I'm okay that they didn't show us a wedding here in this story because of the circumstances and the propensity of the people around WJ to use marriage to trap him into things but I imagine history will repeat itself... just like it did with mum and dad.
  5. My feeling overall is that the show made the choice to underplay the harem and focus a lot more on WJ's role as the up and coming leader of the wulin community. A choice that I applaud by the way. I also realise that the show has chosen to modernize and emphasize WJ's monogamatic side with his preference for ZM clearly spelt out. As a whole it feels like the show diminished the more fantastical elements of the original source and focused on playing out many of the realities and consequences that come out of personal choices made by the characters. I never believed that YTTLJ was primarily ever about the romance. It was always something of a growing up story for a young man who was largely out of tune with conventional wisdom. That's why I'm with ZM in that WJ doesn't really belong in this world. His role was to facilitate the war and to bring about the unity among the martial arts community. After that... it's for others to duke it out. There are times when war is clearly necessary especially in defence of freedom and those who cannot defend themselves. And the truth of the matter is that it does tear people and families apart. While I cringe at the xenophobia and mob mentality, I understand all these sentiments. The people a generation above me who are still with us lived through the second world war or were born in the middle of it. I have heard the stories. Not many but enough to understand what's underlying the lifelong hatred for the invader. Still I sympathize with ZM's dilemma. I don't think she was naive in the sense that she thought it was going to be easy to be with WJ but perhaps she underestimated the hold that the Ming sect and WJ's elders had over him. Or the indebtedness he felt for them. What I think now is that she believed that if she took the difficult step of breaking with her own family and people for love, WJ could do the same. I imagine that she thought that he could walk away from all of that because she was prepared to do it. He, on the other hand, may have naively believed that he could persuade the others into accepting her because he was their leader. Or to trust his judgment. Once he decided to follow his heart, he was prepared to what it takes to keep her with him. But their hatred of foreign rule plus past history with ZM can't be assuage so quickly. In light of everything, I don't think the show can sidestep all of that. The other thing I like about downplaying the harem in this version is that it gives focus to the politics of nationalism and its extreme form of jingoism. Nationalism is a double-edged sword. It's used to unite a people but it almost always inadvertently creates a "them" and an "us" scenario. This is exploited here by the villain Chen Kun" and the vampy version of ZR. It's ugly that people can ignore horrible sins committed by others in the name of well, "at-least-you're-not-a-foreigner". The universality of justice becomes a casualty in all of this. I was deeply moved by the scene of Xie Xun kneeling serenely in expectation of avenging loved ones coming after him. One by one they approach him and then choose to walk away when he makes no move to defend himself. The self-appointed avengers are not without some nobility and at least they've been given the opportunity to air grievances. It's a lovely scene of repentance and surrender. This Qingshu is definitely my favourite. I am so sad for him but at least the show gave him a hero's send-off. He has colour and dimension even when his pallor looks unhealthy. Even in his weakness, he isn't without some measure of nobility. Sadly he fell into the hands of unsavoury characters which caused his impulsive nature to act stupidly. I am left with little doubt that his devotion for ZR and his Wudang family is genuine. I didn't have too many problems with Episodes 47 and 48 apart from the usual dissatisfaction with the martial arts sequences being predictably unspectacular. I had already sensed that the show was moving very quickly several episodes ago so it there was nothing in these two that were especially fast moving considering that there are only 2 left in the series. As I'm a bit time poor, I increased the pacing even more by speeding through some of the scenes.
  6. This version seems determined to pile on the melodrama and make us feel the OTP's pain. Not only are they playing up the star-crossed lovers angle, the outlook for their being together seems bleak. Truthfully I've really missed some of the humour of 2009 especially at this stage. 2009 had issues undoubtedly but it gave off a fun vibe once WJ and MM became a thing. Still, the skinship is good and there can't be any doubt in anyone's mind that these are two people who really love each other. The other thing I missed from 2009 is the martial arts. WJ's first battle with the three Shaolin masters was rather lacklustre although second round was a vast improvement. I was hoping to find the Jing Gang circle much more spectacular than what it was. There was some good stuff at the various one on one duels thankfully. I am reminded once again of what a gracious and noble person Yang Xiao is. I really appreciate his innate nobility in how he deals with ZM. He accords her with respect that's quite rare in this show although I suspect it's generally out of respect for WJ. With his history with women, I imagine he has given the messy business of relationships a great deal of thought. To the others their leader is a foolish young man who has been mesmerized by the witch but to him, he can see that their leader is someone who is in love. I don't doubt he can relate on far too many levels. On some level ZR is a rather pitiful and lonely character. The drama is clear about driving that home. I acknowledge that not because it lets her off the hook (for me at least) but it shows that she cannot be true to herself. Outwardly at least, she's doing a good job of being Miejue's protege par excellence but while that's happening, she's losing herself all the more. By taking on the leadership mantle she puts on the facade of ruthless arrogance but in reality she's torn up inside by all her loyalties. Her certainty and strength is for show mainly and inside she's waging a terrible war with herself. She is pitiful in my books because it's largely her choices has brought her to this place. What she will do with QS is an interesting aspect to this version WJ because of his honourable nature obviously thinks he's to blame for how she's turned out which is why he in part hasn't named and shamed her publicly for telling fibs and pretending not to know what's happened to the Tu Long sabre . Of course he needs her help too so it's best not to aggravate the angry lady any more than he needs to. There's no doubt that WJ is ZM's Achilles' heel. But she hasn't lost her wits and her ability to reason or play the long game. The reason why I'm impressed with Yukee's interpretation of the character is how she imbues MM with a vulnerable youthfulness. I never think that she's acting. She becomes ZM in all her aspects. One moment she's wounded and weak but the next she's clever and strategic. And it feels seamless to me. I watched an interview with Yukee last week, I think it was. It was like watching a different person. She's older in RL and yet she achieves MM's impassioned youthfulness without going aegyo and coming across as affected.
  7. Whoah... all that pent up passion came into its own in that kiss! Was expecting some kind of lip locking but not that! Clearly, obviously that kiss communicated all that needed to be communicated about how WJ really feels about ZM. It's important that he made that "grand gesture" because well, the truth is she's sacrificed so much to be where she is now. Still I wouldn't go so far as to say that she deserved that moment because I'm not comfortable with the idea of love being "earned" but there's an old saying that fits her. Fortune favours the bold. It's obvious that ZM has been updated for the 21st century. Not necessarily a bad thing but there are times she does come on a bit strong. I feel that she's come to the end of her tether and is a bit desperate for any kind of reaction from WJ. It's a different approach and I think it's largely in keeping with how this show deals with the complexity of the human condition. Aside from Chen Kun, it doesn't seem anyone is really that despicable. At times I think ZM is a bit too forward for an ajumma like myself but then she knows too well where WJ's heart really lies but can't act freely. So she's come to the conclusion that she's the one who has to take the chances and be maligned for both their sakes. I feel at the end of the day, all the crazy stuff she does isn't entirely selfish. It is her way of protecting him. To be honest I don't like how the show transitioned ZR from demure, meek and mild to MieJue Mach II on steroids. I'm not keen on the implication that WJ leaving her at the altar was the final push that sent her right over the edge. It gives her a soft landing that I'm not sure she deserves. The secret of the Yi Tian jian and the Tu Long dao was undoubtedly hers to keep although it begs the question as to how long she was intending to keep that secret from WJ even while entering into marriage with him... knowing full well what all the implications of the deception would be. I can't logically feel sorry for her because the entire betrothal was a sham and she was prepared to lie her way into a marriage where I think she was fully aware was entered into half-heartedly. I suppose an argument can be made for her being bold and going for what she wants... just like ZM but I think it's clearly established (at least in this adaptation) that she and WJ are not a good match. Not only is she looking to have two bites off the cherry but she has a whole lot of baggage she is bringing into the marriage that he doesn't know anything about. Alarm bells have been going off in his head already regarding their suitability. If there's any thing that WJ is rightly accused of, it's the fact that he's very naive about people. But it is a double-edged sword (no pun intended) and one of his key principles. He knew ZR as a child but there are about 10 years in between in which they had nothing to do with each other. People can change with the passage of time through the influence of others. Even if WJ himself is a steadfast rock, not everyone else is. One of my favourite moments in these last two episodes has to be when WJ gave a big grin while hearing ZM wax poetic about wandering around the four corners of the world righting wrongs and once they hit elderly stakes, to stay put and build a farm together. When he broke into that happy smile, he knew she was it... because here was someone who spoke the language of his heart.
  8. Does she though? Maybe it's just this version but I certainly haven't seen it. As for resolve... well, she's certainly resolute about marrying WJ and making herself the victim post-Snake Island. As for the rest, I beg to differ. I am intrigued though that she seems so certain that she will be able to maintain the deception long-term. Where is she getting this confidence from? Faith in WJ's naivete? The prejudice of the seven sects? Perhaps it's not confidence but necessity and fear. I don't find WJ wishy washy at all. I just think he's torn between loyalties and he's a Confucian male putting paternal figures and country before personal passions. Marrying ZR isn't about love but about honouring his elders so there's nothing indecisive to me about that. My view is that WJ does have the charisma of someone who has strong convictions and carries them through. He is impressive in that way. Plus he treats all people with respect. I imagine that's why ZM fell for him. It's why I like him. He does have leadership abilities insofar as he can bring disparate groups under a common banner of brotherhood because of his self-sacrificing nature. But to rule a nation would require I think, another kind of individual. As you rightly pointed out, he wasn't raised to be leader much less a ruler. He was raised to be an honourable person which is what is needed to bring together a sect in disarray with very little trust between the key players. But to rule well, a different kind of savvy is needed. ZM could rule alongside him but she's Mongolian so that's not going to go down well with most people. Leadership works differently on different levels. There's a time and a place for someone like WJ but not beyond the scope, I don't think, of uniting the Ming sect. Anyway, his heart isn't in it. He has no ambition or stomach to fight for it. I don't know what JY had in mind when he created ZR but no one's going to convince me especially after this version that ZR is leadership material. Even if she obeyed her Teacher-Master's orders, it was done very half-heartedly, without much conviction. I don't dislike her for accidentally "killing" Zhu'er. I just don't think much of what she did afterwards that shows a distinct lack of character. Nice comparison with JXF.
  9. Sure that may be the case but it shows (me at least) that she's not very bright because stealing the weapons seems to me to be the more difficult way out. She seems to have a history of making things far more difficult for herself than she should. Besides, she keeps telling everyone that WJ is different from the rest of the Ming sect, that he's nothing like the others and yet her actions on the boat prove that there is definitely a lack of trust. It's not that I have doubts that she loves WJ... whatever that means to her and how she's able to navigate all that with the knowledge that he's much more partial to ZM... I just don't really think she's motivated by that particular impulse. It isn't that there are contradictions in her character. There aren't any as far as I can tell. But she's way in over her head in almost every area. She nice sort of girl and perhaps even a martial arts talent of sorts but she isn't a good successor for Er Mei because she doesn't have the strength of character to command. I didn't like MJ much but she had courage of her convictions and was able to keep things under control with a steely single-mindedness. ZR was absolutely putty in her hands. I don't even think ZR turns "bad" in a simplistic sort of way. At her core she's weak which is why she always makes what I would consider counterintuitive choices. Hence the pun on the name I imagine. @Don Yu MJ was definitely a bully... no arguments from me. That's why it was easy for her to foist the weight of leadership on ZR. But she's dead now... ZR just keeps making one bad decision after another even if some of it appears well-intentioned. She could have chosen not to do anything MJ asked her or kill or let ZM carry the can. She could have chosen to tell WJ the truth if she really loved him as much as she claims. After all she chose not to kill him. Her obedience to MJ was entirely selective. Even if I weren't a fan of ZM, it would still irk me that she stands around listening to people making false accusations about another and then resorts playing the victim. It feels like she's driven more by fear than by love The good part though is that she's suffering for her sins via her conscience and WJ running off to ZM repeatedly.
  10. Hahaha... I've always suspected that ZR isn't terribly bright but yeah... this definitely took the cake! She's got some cunning obviously but it's all 小聪明. Still she did enough damage. Aided and abetted of course by prejudice. Maybe she should leave the plotting and scheming to the adults... although lately I've been left wondering where all the adults are. Hard to say. There have been so many good ones. Guang Ming peak episodes come to mind. Burning pagoda while WJ and ZM chatted was interesting. I liked a couple from Snake Island. Most of the time it's moments that stand out to me. @cancergirl87 I think WJ needs to work out in his head that he can still help the people without being a part of the Ming sect. I love his idea of being a wandering physician. But people around keep making him feel like a terrible human being unless he's spearheading Ming's great mission to overthrow the Mongolians.
  11. Sometimes I think I should feel a tiny bit sorry for ZR but I can't. The "sad childhood" rationale can only go so far before it becomes a well-worn excuse. It's human to make mistakes but it's another thing not to own up to them. I'm not a fan of MJ's teaching approach and parenting skills but she's dead and gone now and ZR has an opportunity to start fresh. She wasn't leadership material to begin with but MJ prioritized martial arts achievement over character. Aside from all that, accidentally killing Zhu'er was one thing but not 'fessing up and then following that up by letting another person take the fall with elaborate deception and cover-up. To add injury to insult, she agrees to be betrothed to a man who's in love with the woman she's dumped her sins on. It's greed pure and simple. I don't think WJ would have cared if she had demanded the weapons as Er Mei property or even stolen them and snuck off but that wasn't quite enough for her. You can see why I just can't go there. It's not that she has no choice. Everybody does. Even WJ whom I have defended vociferously here on this thread. The irony of course is that WJ could abandon ship and run off with the woman he loves. But it would kill his conscience and it may even kill his love for ZM over time if he's racked with guilt from eloping at a time of need. He needs strong justification to walk away now. Love isn't enough. Especially to a girl who is dubious. It is against his character, his nature to disregard his elders. I know people think he's wishy washy in love and think that he's a terrible sinner because of that but I think by hanging on he inadvertently proves that there's a time and a place for everything. For him and ZM, the timing sucks but it isn't just that. She had to prove 10x harder than anyone else that she loved him -- sadly because of her background. He, on the other hand, has to prove to the Ming sect and to the audience that he is not fit to rule. I used to think it was unfair that the good man can't rule but this version makes it absolutely clear why WJ cannot rule... aside from the fact that his heart isn't in it. His naivete, his inability to think badly of anyone and his desire for everyone to hold hands should disqualify him immediately. The reason why I feel sorry for WJ in a way that I can't for ZR is because people are using his compassionate nature against him. They are limiting his choices (holding him captive) by using the very thing that makes him great in my eyes... and I imagine... ZM's eyes as well. This is what annoys me about Grandpa emotionally blackmailing WJ. You can't emotionally blackmail a child that's wilful and disobedient because they just don't care. Only when they do care about doing the "right thing" that they're easy to manipulate.
  12. I too question the wisdom of ZM openly confronting ZR on more than one occasion as well but I can sort of see why they did this here. On the one hand it shows that ZM doesn't take stuff lying down and she's coming out fighting. Which certainly fits in with this ZM. And I'm also inclined to think that she's doing it not because she thinks anyone will believe her but if she can at least cast doubt and cause some confusion in the ranks she will have gained a psychological upperhand. It's a kind of strategic theatre. I also think that it's the showrunners way of demonstrating that no one is really interested in the truth of what happened on Snake Island. Except for WJ perhaps. If they can benefit from this situation, the truth doesn't matter. They've already made up their minds and she's been tried in a kangaroo court and found guilty. The reality is none of them know ZR that well... or whether she's capable of anything nefarious. Besides, it's not that long ago Er Mei and Ming were at odds with each other and now all that's forgotten because it's expedient to. Her question to WJ is a good one. Does the Ming sect really care about the ordinary folk? Or is it about the glory of Ming's mission? Just because he pontificates about brotherhood and loyalty... it doesn't mean everyone is of like mind. Honestly... WJ really needs her because as Zhou Dian notes, he is too good-hearted. And these grown men around her are just showing themselves to be first class idiots. No wonder Ming was in utter chaos. The one good thing I can see that's come out of all of this is how much ZR is suffering because WJ's heart isn't with her. As I've said before for a woman to tether herself to a man who is in love with another woman... is beyond stupid. I'm glad the show doesn't skirt this. It is the highest conceit to believe that forcing him into a relationship with you can change his mind. I used to hear people say that you should marry a man who loves you more than you love him. Over the years... I've gradually come to see the wisdom of that. I am so over ZR's pathetic girl act... The fake suicide was just eye-rolling stuff. I just want her humiliated. Bring on the wedding!
  13. Yes, that was great! I had an inkling that it might be him because I didn't think anyone else would care. It definitely gives him that extra layer. I'm gratified at how the show makes these sorts of choices to flesh out the characters. At times they do things that leaves one scratching one's head, on other occasions you can see the better side of their humanity on display. What a mess! What an unholy mess! The entire situation is just deplorable and yet admittedly there is a realism in all of this. Poor WJ... he is hemmed in all sides. He didn't want to be sect leader in the first place and now everyone wants a piece of him. Well, at the very least, everyone wants to dictate to him how he should live his life "for the greater good". Although I thoroughly feel for him, it's rather smart of show to play out these dynamics in order for us to see the position that he's in. Even if you don't care about politics and don't see the necessity of it in this drama, you should because it tells you why WJ is in such an impossible situation where ZM is concerned. He's not living in the 21st century nor is he a man of time where he can shrug everything off and up and leave. I believe the Ming sect (Grandpa included) knows that WJ isn't really cut out for long-term leadership but there's no one else that has been able to rally the diverse factions and personalities up to this point in time so he's stuck in the job. With regard to ZM, they're certainly playing up her position as The Enemy to the fullest. It does prolong the internal conflict in a number of interesting ways. What I particularly enjoy is that she complicates WJ's position every time they meet. It would be easier (for him and everyone else) if she weren't around but not as interesting. She's the anomaly... the outlier that challenges the conventional orthodoxy. I don't think the presence of ZR contributes to ZM's overall presence in the show. Even on her own, ZM has a distinctive dynamic with the people around her. My personal view is that ZR isn't all that interesting without her descent into darkness. She's a fairly colourless character to begin with. Miejue's dominance in her development is definitely a key factor in her transformation. Her own inability to deal with the demands put on her... is another factor. She's torn in her loyalties like everyone else but because things are going swimmingly for her right now, she can justify her sins easily enough. Everyone, it appears, wants her to be with WJ for various reasons so it must feel that everything is going her way. She's got everything she wants wrapped in a bow... or so she thinks. ZM was in a similar position in terms wanting a bet each way but because she's the outlier she has to work 10x harder to prove her sincerity by making immensely hard choices.
  14. I'm of two minds regarding ZR. I'm liking her less and less (I'm over her good girl act to be sure) but I accept that she's an integral part of the narrative and I have to put up with the deception. Of course it bothers me a great deal that she been telling fibs especially to the man she's about to marry especially when he's more or less made up his mind to go through with the marriage in good faith. However, if I accept that primary theme of this drama is concerned with appearances and how labels of good and evil are often thrown around thoughtlessly and banally... well... ZR is a rather good example of how all this is in operation. Angelic in appearance but a devilish agenda underneath. Evil lurks in the hearts of all. Given the right circumstances... it's not hard to succumb. Somehow she's found a way to deal with the cognitive dissonance... as a lot of guilty people do to ease their conscience. They rationalize it in their minds, find a way to live with it because apparently it's all for "the greater good". The deception rankles though. Qing Shu, on the other hand, is someone I have a bit of pity for because at least there's an element of remorse. He behaved really stupidly and badly in a fit of passion but he did 'fess up in the end. Those two are interesting parallels. In a real enough way, they are on a similar trajectory so it's only fitting that they become something of a pair. Fellow travellers on a road to destruction. Jealousy and covetousness has largely been their undoing. I don't think they set out to be villains but the decisions that they made along the way took them on a path of no return. While I understand why ZM gets labelled "witch" endlessly, it still grates. But it really does goes to show how we so easily compartmentalize people especially when we take sides in conflicts. Even the best people fall into that trap. Of course I'm biased because I get to see the other side of her and perhaps it's love that's changed her. But no, I don't think love has changed her per se. What love did was change the direction of her life goals. She's proven and is proving that she's putting her money where her mouth is... she is giving up everything for WJ... and quite prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. She may be young and experiencing love for the first time but there's nothing airy fairy about it. He may not think so now but WJ is very blessed to have her on his side because she's been instrumental in resolving issues for him over and over again. I find it fascinating that WJ never denies that he's in love with ZM nor ZM has any doubts that he likes her. I note that he tells her to "forget him". They don't argue on those terms instead he frames his arguments in accordance with the realities of their circumstances. He's certainly not marrying ZR because he's in love with her (because he could have said that but doesn't) but because he's made a promise that he needs to see through as a gentleman's agreement. He likes ZR well enough and he hasn't seen the other side of her yet so he may assume that it's as good a choice as any. At least it's someone he knows. Of course there are definitely long-term political benefits of the union for both sects, gaining some measure of respectability for the Ming sect in particular. And it wouldn't entirely shock me if he's marrying ZR to put someone else out of his mind. It's clear that WJ feels the weight of his decisions especially when ZM asks him why he can't give everything up for her as she has done for him. Well, it's clear why. He's not clinging on to power and riches for its own sake. A lot of people depend on him for their survival and I respect him for not walking away from it all just yet. He might not be a great detective but he has a highly developed sense of responsibility. All his choices come from that wonderful part of him so I'm not ready to judge him too harshly if romance is not high on his agenda at this point in time. ZM is going through her baptism of fire right now. She's not just suffering because of her love for WJ but because she's undergoing a deep internal conflict. Her loyalties are torn and her world's (as she once knew) coming apart at the seams. It may even be an identity crisis. She may have thought that she could straddle both sides but now the clarity that she's been desperately seeking will be apparent... she can't straddle and as the executioner's sword is about to fall, she now understands what it means to give up everything for love's sake. Rank, family, wealth, reputation and life.
  15. Of course she knew. Smart kid. She says as much in the preview for Episode 43. The wedding is a farce. Clearly everyone else around them wanted it more than he did. She saved him from a fate worse than death. ZR is unbelievable. She had XX dancing to her tune. Using that cloak of demure innocence to get away with murder. Thank goodness someone did us all a favour and kidnapped him. I don't usually comment on the previews (particularly because it's been decontextualized) but I love watching them play house. She looks happily housewifely and he looks completely mesmerized. The expression on his face is to die for. Who can doubt his feelings? Honestly I have no problems with Joseph's acting... he's nailing it completely. The bits of them on the move after the farce wedding is one of my favourite parts of the story. This IMO is the true marriage of true minds... two people left to their own devices, are free to show their true feelings. And it proves too that WJ is a better judge of character than people give him credit for. @cancergirl87 Is it possible to split those stills? Or find them separately? I don't have time to do a search. But I would love to have copies of the almost-kiss ones.
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