Ep 12: 



The Longest Day in Chang An – ep 12


The plot had been moving at a slower pace over the last few episodes and we’re slowly ramping back up again. 


To start, Li Bi back at Jing An Si starts to act on his suspicions and has Xu Bin arrested. Li Bi points out that someone tore a page in a historical book that specifically documented the act of cutting hair for the wolf squad thereby trying to hide crucial information about them. Xu Bin gave him that book so his suspicion is the highest. 


However, Li Bi cannot confirm if Xu Bin really is the spy. He says as much to Yao Ru Neng who is reminding Li Bi to be careful of his actions since they represent the Crown Prince. Li Bi realizes that someone must be a spy in Jing An SI because at every turn, the RIght Chancellor is one step ahead. Hopefully, the public act of arresting Xu Bin may cause some commotion to root out the real spy. Li Bi asks Yao Ru Neng if he can trust him only for Yao Ru Neng not to respond immediately but be a little exasperated at Li BI’s suspicion. After all, in their youths, Yao Ru Neng has never tried to compete against Li Bi. All he wants to do is see Li Bi and the Crown Prince succeed so that he can also enjoy a lavish post. That’s it. Li Bi seems appeased by his answer and asks Yao Ru Neng to continue searching who else might have had access to that book. At this point, he receives an urgent message from Cui Qi that Zhang Xiao Jing has sniffed out the escaped  Wolf Squad to Chang Ming Fang. 



Let’s rewind to see how and what happened there. 


In the last episode, Zhang XIao Jing and Cui Qi borrowed a very interesting dog to help sniff out Wen Ran’s scent in order to find her and also her two Wolf Squad captors. In a brief break they take while waiting for the dog to eat some food and return to the hunt, Cui Qi actually opens up to Zhang Xiao Jing about why he wants to get promoted. Cui Qi says that he wants to get promoted to the Right Cavalry or 右骁卫 because that’s the only way he can protect the people of Chang An. When he first arrived with his brother, he spent 3 days and nights meeting all kinds of ppl. Just ordinary people going about their lives, not the rich and famous. While in the military, he couldn’t understand why he wanted those honors until he came here. He wants to have enough authority to protect these people because they, himself included, are just trying to do the best they can do. The Right Cavalry protects the people of Chang An and that’s what he wants to do.  Zhang Xiao Jing’s demeanor softens upon hearing these words and ruefully advises Cui Qi to not be swallowed up by the city. Cui Qi promptly asks what he means by that but Zhang Xiao Jing just heads off with the dog. 


To me, these conversations are really the heart and soul of this drama that give deeper meaning to seemingly insignificant characters in history. As someone living in a big city, it’s what I love about being in NY. The every day people just going about their lives, or you could say, our lives. It certainly makes Cui Qi a more multifaceted individual who earlier on tried to claim victory and was seen as arrogant and egotistical. But in reality, he’s just trying to climb the ladder himself to help live out his brother’s dream and his own of protecting the people of Chang An. And notice, he doesn’t talk about crown or country. Only the people. I dont think the likes of Cui Qi or Zhang Xiao Jing for that matter care too much about politics or what happens at court.



While Zhang Xiao Jing and Cui Qi are still on the hunt, Long Bo and his crew are currently making their next moves. They get an unexpected visit from 2 strangers, wearing white robes. At first, Cao Po Yan and Ma Ge Er were like, ooo these people are the fiercest warriors from the wolf squad but then immediately they get beat up by Yu Chang. Cao Po Yan then was like uhhh what! This is a farce! Only to realize that their image of what the wolf squad should be like has been shattered. I actually burst out laughing here because i thought it was supposed to be suspenseful but it entirely went the other way. 


Poor wolf squad members. No matter how fierce we saw them at the beginning of the drama and how big of a threat the rest of court sees them, they are being played like a fiddle by Long Bo. He’s leaving 3 carts of whatever they have for these 4 wolf squad members to use as a diversion. Long Bo is definitely not using his own men but these men to die for them. He calls Cao Po Yan aside and gives him a flask with specific instructions. Cao Po Yan then heads off to find a number of homeless people. He gives a specific person the flask and an exchange is made.



Shortly after, Zhang Xiao Jing and Cui Qi make their way to 昌明坊. Seeing that it’s rather destitute with no nearby watch towers, Zhang XIao Jing instructs Cui Qi to give word back to Jing An Si for back up while he goes off on his own. I’m rather touched that Cui Qi tells Zhang XIao Jing to be careful after their heart to heart just now. After they separate, Zhang Xiao Jing and the dog are still following the scent when he gets poorly tailed by the homeless. And I literally burst out laughing because the leader, jia shi qi gives a little monologue about how someone wants Zhang Xiao Jing killed and immediately crumples after one punch from Zhang Xiao Jing. Once the man is conscious again, he very plainly spills that he’s only doing this because he got a super cool looking flask, one from the military that it seems like Zhang XIao JIng recognizes. This Jia Shi Qi is also quite quick to take Zhang Xiao Jing to wherever the person hiring him came from. 


Tensions rise as we can feel Zhang Xiao Jing nearing the wolf squad hiding spot while Long Bo heads off with his convoy and the wolf squad is waiting with their orders. Yu Chang is over there being overly jealous again and forces Ma Ge Er to kill Wen Ran whom Yu Chang cannot stand. Wen Ran is forced to jump down a well, seemingly killed and even Cao Po Yan is like, I sincerely hope my own daughter never meets a woman as nasty as you to Yu Chang. Like Yes. THANK YOU. Geez Yu Chang. You need to calm down. 



It’s pretty easy to see that the next few episodes are going to be action packed but let’s rewind a bit to talk about the other story line at play. The Prince of Yong meets with the leader of the Blaze Gang, 丰大伦 after that direct order from Zhang XIao Jing via Tan Qi last episode. THey discuss their next steps because they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes but they do want to enact revenge on Zhang Xiao Jing. Though, Feng Da Lun is quite the idiot because he doesn’t realize that he actually captured 王韫秀. Feng Da Lun has just the person to help the Prince of Yong. A man from the Court of Judicature or 大理寺 that is eager to rise up the ranks. He will jump at this opportunity. The person? 元载.


We jump to one of the oddest introductions of a person in a Chinese drama. We see a man being surrounded by a number of rather large women, listening to intel from a young girl about the Right Chancellor. These women are helping him block the wind in order to better perfume himself. From the language, we can see that this guy is only a lowly official of the 8th rank and has literally no money left. All of his money was used to gather intel. But he is quite cunning in trying to assess the mind of the right chancellor and trying to capture his opportunity. Do you remember watching the Incredibles? There is a line from Edna Mode that I is ingrained in my brain and that is luck favors the prepared. Yuan Zai in this instance completely embodies that. He has a premonition that tomorrow, they will make it big. And right after that, a messenger arrives with a summons. 




Let’s move onto history!


In the very beginning of the episode when 张小敬 and 崔器, when 张小敬 ask why 崔器 wants to be promoted, 崔器 lists off a several names of people. One of people listed was a 李十二 who was practicing dance until the soles of her feet were worn. In the drama, it’s unclear if this 李十二 is a man or woman, but in history, there was a very famous dancer 李十二 who was the pupil of the famous Lady Gong Sun, who stunned the Tang Dynasty populace with her beauty with the sword. The dance was a sword dance or 剑舞. Lady Gong Sun was famous in the early years of Emperor Tang Xuan Zong’s reign and performed regularly at the palace. It is said that her dancing inspired countless poets and scholars with her performances including the Sage of Cursive Script 张旭. The Chinese poet Du Fu wrote an ode depicting the beauty and wonders of Lady GongSun’s sword dance. In that poem, there is reference to her pupil, this 李十二. Through this pupil, others in the Tang Dynasty were able to also see the beauty of this dance. However, all we know of this 李十二 is the through this poem. In this drama, we just get this fleeting passage of who could be this pupil before she became famous.



Moving on, we were briefly introduced to the Prince of Yong or 永王 in the last episode and we get a few glimpses of him here. Let’s take some time to provide his backstory and lay the groundwork for the individual that he is.


Prince of Yong, 李璘,born 李泽 was the 16th son of the Emperor Tang Xuan Zong and born to Consort Guo. It is unclear when he was born as there are no surviving records. What we do know is that the young boy’s mother died when he was young and was subsequently raised by his older brother 李嗣升, who then became Crown Prince in 738. The Crown Prince loved his younger brother and often held him to sleep. This is similar to what was said in the drama, that the Prince of Yong and the Crown Prince are very close. In 725, the then 李泽 was bestowed the title 永王. In 727, he became the governor of 荆州. Then in 1736, he was granted a name change of 李璘. There isn’t too much recorded history of the Prince of Yong up until the 750s, which is in the future. I’ll just say that the Prince of Yong grew up rather sheltered in the capital and had aspirations that did not match with his capabilities. 


Speaking of new characters, let’s talk about this weird new man who works at the Court of Judicature or 大理寺. This man is called 元载. When we first meet him, he’s sitting in a bare room with a cute little servant surrounded by rather large women to keep warm. So who is he?


It isn’t 100% clear the year he was born but probably some time in the 710s. There are some records that say that he was born in 713. He came from a very poor family but was intelligent and studious as a boy. He was sharp and a quick learner  and wrote excellent reports. In 741 AD, 元载 successfully passed the Imperial Entrance exams and received a post in at 大理寺, which is where we see him now in 744.


元载, despite only being an official for a short while, was already well versed in the ways of politics and how to curry and gain favor. We see that in this episode, he is focused on why the Right Chancellor is so enamored with a specific poem. This guy knew how to climb the government ladder and let’s just say that in this drama – he knew how to grasp each and every opportunity. I always get an icky feeling when he’s on screen which is I think the point. I don’t want to spoil too much about 元载 now so when we move along with the drama, we’ll reveal more about his historical counterpart.



Speaking of grasping opportunities – in the drama 元载 is interested in a specific poem written by Li Bai. 


乌夜啼 – the Crows Evening Weep.






The title itself 


Here’s the poem itself and my translation.


The crows are returning to their nests from the yellow clouds near the city walls

When they land, the branches make a ya ya sound

The weaving woman from 秦川,

through the green window screen sees the two crows return together as if conversing with each other but it is really only her talking to herself

She feels so alone. She’s thinking about her family far away. She stops weaving. Being alone brings heartbreak as tears flow down her cheek.


This poem was most likely written around 730 or 731 by the famed poet Li Bai. However, this poem didn’t catch the attention of those in Chang’An until the early 740s. Li Bai returned to Chang’An in 741 and it was only then that 贺知章 praised Li Bai’s skills at poetry. 贺知章 is our Director He in this drama. 贺知章 was so impressed with this poem and other poems that he praised Li Bai as A God from the heavens. Shortly after, 贺知章 recommended Li Bai to the Emperor which is how Li Bai was finally able to return to the good graces of the Emperor.


 On the surface, the poem depicts returning autumn crows but then turns to the woman weeping about her isolation. But one can also perhaps read it as a man who has been waiting for his chance. That’s how 元载 read this. In the drama, 元载 learns from his young servant that the Right Chancellor has also been repeating this poem. Why? I believe it’s because he’s trying to deduce why Director He really enjoyed this poem. So it really is a mind game between these powerful men. If Director He showed favoritism – why? It’s the same for the Right Chancellor as well. If he favored a poem, everyone else in court is also pondering why. In this drama, we’ll see that 元载 at this deduction.



Lastly, let us take some time to discuss the 8 ladies and the small young girl who were serving 元载! This will be more of a discussion on fashion and beauty aesthetics. During the Tang Dynasty, the preference for women was to actually be a bit plumper and fuller. There is a chinese saying of 环肥燕瘦 – which translates to Noble Consort Yang Plump, Consort Zhao Fei Yan Skinny. The Noble Consort Yang is from this era and Consort Zhao Fei Yan was from the Han Dynasty. The fact that being Plump was used to describe Noble Consort Yang meant that women’s beauty standards fluctuated to a point where being plump was a standard during that time. 


Why I raise this is because in Chinese dramas, we RARELY see plumper women on screen anymore. Most are stick thin, so it is really refreshing to see 8 larger women in this particular episode perhaps embody the beauty standards of the day. We’ll get to see Noble Consort Yang later in the drama and she definitely is not plump. 


The chubby little young girl is sporting a smaller girl hairstyle called the 丫鬓. She also has a small moth hair accessory which was commonly worn during the lantern festival as moths are nocturnal. As for each of the 8 ladies, they are all sporting uniquely different hairstyles, eyebrows, and clothing. We have the 插梳, 


The women of the Tang Dynasty were also less restricted than women of other Chinese dynasties. That extended to the clothes they wore. During the Tang Dynasty – showing a little bosom was not scandalous so we did see some of that in paintings and pottery figures. 

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