Ep 33

 

In the knick of time last episode, Li Bi was able to save Tan Qi from being buried alive and asphyxiated. Yao Ru Neng also surprised us with his courage by stepping in to save Tan Qi. He is badly beaten and that is where we start in episode 33. He is seen crawling in the busy streets of Chang an, bloodied and injured. He screams to those walking aruond him that he is useful. He has value! A mysterious man in red stops him and says the person who sent him can help Yao Ru Neng bring glory back to the Yao family.That stops Yao Ru Neng’s angry yelling in his tracks.

 

The time remains Midnight. 

 

At the Right CHancellor’s residence, he changed into the plain cloth robes the Emperor gifted him. We talked last week about how this was quite the slap in the face for him. He’s over there tearing up and saying that he’s not a greedy person, he just wants to become the Tang dynasty’s number one chancellor. I actually chuckled at this. Dude seriously? That’s not greedy? What are you talking about?

 

They do release Tan Qi from the Right Chancellor’s residence. Li Bi is waiting for her outside the entrance. It’s a very delicate conversation where Li Bi doesn’t recognize anything really amiss but pretty much each word Li Bi says reveals to her his view of her. She asks him whether or not the Crown Prince is truly innocent in tonights affairs and whether or not the people of Chang An are safe. He simply says that she just needs to follow his orders. She responds with another question, does Li Bi only see her as a slave?

 

[Cathy]

He doesn’t respond directly, just says that her family once was very respectable but she’s been a slave since the age of 10. At age 14 she started working for him. He knows she wants freedom and he can give her that freedom, but if she stays with him, they can achieve more greatness. 

 

Reading between the lines, Tan Qi recognizes that Li Bi thinks she is only useful with him. Not on her own. In a final gut wrenching question, he blinks several times and asks, Do you have anything big you need to do? Ouch, he totally just demeaned her value and what she needs or wants to do. Apparently nothing she wants to do is considered “big” or “meaningful”. 

 

I think we’re being a little harsh on Li Bi. He comes from a noble background and has never really understood the lives of those of a lower social class than him. His first real encounter was earlier in the evening in the underground. It’ll take a lot more for him to realize that slaves such as Tan Qi are humans and equals. That’s the reason why Tan Qi will pick Zhang Xiao Jing over him. Zhang Xiao Jing treats her as his equal.

 

At this point, Zhang Xiao Jing arrives. He was trying to mount a rescue for Tan Qi as well but was sequestered by the courtesan Li Xiang Xiang. I’m not overall too upset at her because I think she’s just trying to make Zhang XIao Jing see that he is too naive in his way of thinking. Tan Qi was rescued by the more powerful and connected Li BI. What good could Zhang XIao Jing bring.

 

Tan Qi smiles at Zhang XIao Jing when he arrives, relieved. I’d like to think she knows that he came all the way to save her. He doesn’t say anything about the effort he put in to try to save her, but simply reports to Li Bi that he needs to go back to Jing An SI for some more evidence. Li Bi can’t help him at this point. He needs to help the Crown Prince. Zhang XIao Jing understands. Li Bi needs to consider the future of Tang while he will save Chang An today. Before running off, he tells Li Bi to stop treating Tan Qi like a slave.

 

This plus Li Bi’s refusal to reverse Zhang XIao JIng’s execution order, Tan Qi makes up her mind. She thanks Li Bi for everything and apologizes for what she’s about to do. Loudly, for everyone to hear, she states that she is no longer going to work for Li BI because he doesn’t treat her like a human. She kneels in front of him with a goodbye and goes off to do the things she needs to do. He’s a little shocked by this but keeps his composure and heads off to find the Crown Prince. 

 

 

Zhang Xiao Jing rendezvous with YiSi who is adorably waiting for him in a market. He gives Zhang xiao jing some food and reiterates his stance that he wants to help Zhang XIao Jing tonight. THe two head back to Jing An Si. Zhang XIao Jing disguises himself as an injured man who helped put out the fire at Jing An Si earlier tonight with Yi Si as a good samaritan helping him. They easily manage to sneak into Jing AN Si that is now under Ji Wen’s purview. But not so fast, they are stopped by the 赵参军. It’s been a few episodes of stress but 赵参军 is back and he brings about more chuckles. He’s shocked to see Zhang XIao Jing who had immediately placed a knife to his neck. Captain Zhao is hilarious as he’s like, don’t you remember me? You beat me up earlier? WHy can’t we do the same thing again where you just knock me out and I don’t remember seeing you? LOL He’s been stationed here as backfill given General Gan doesn’t want to see him right now. Haha. He shares that Ji Wen is currently in the evidence room where Zhang Xiao Jing and Yisi need to go but he can’t help them. ZHang XIao Jing then makes up a fictitious threat about how Yisi’s eyes are green and can curse people. It actually causes Captain Zhao to freak out and agree to help them. He will distract JI Wen while Yi Si searches for evidence in the evidence room.

 

In this instance, it’s another video game scene brought to life. Captain Zhao ups the theatrics to prevent Ji Wen from noticing Yi Si who is sneaking around in the room searching for bamboo clues that could be helpful to figuring out the real target for Long Bo. Captain Zhao is over there kneeling and bs ing his way to stop Ji Wen as Yi Si shows us once again his parkour skills. 

 

Mission accomplished. Yi Si and Zhang XIao JIng analyze in a nearby food stall the broken pieces of bamboo Yisi managed to steal. Zhang Xiao Jing says they have to find the one person who can discern the make of an object by its materials. That person is 晁分. The two head on over to his residence. Which, once again. Why aren’t you celebrating the lantern festival at midnight! Anyways, he’s not too perturbed by the visitors and is still working on crafting something. Zhang Xiao Jing and YISi initially weren’t very successful in getting his help but when he learns from Zhang XIao Jing that the model replica of Chang An for Jing An Si was destroyed, he becomes furious, now eager to help identify those who destroyed his precious work. We’ll see more of this exchange next episode. Unfortunately, Yuan Zai and Wang Yun Xiu managed to see Zhang Xiao Jing in the streets and they’re on their way to attack.

 

Meanwhile, both Li Bi and Tan Qi separately are making their way into the palace. Li Bi through his own connections with the Crown PRince while Tan Qi actually went to ask for help from the Prince of Yong. The Prince agreed thinking this would be a great opportunity to bring down the Crown Prince if Tan QI messes anything up tonight. 

 

The last several episodes don’t really happen in the book. Tan Qi isn’t almost buried alive, Yao Ru Neng is not revealed to be a spy of the Right Chancellor and He Fu doesn’t kill himself. In fact, in the book, He Fu IS revealed as the big bad and the mastermind behind everything. Here though, he’s shown to have been easily manipulated and there are more issues along the way. The whole revelation about one’s own value doesn’t happen and instead, the book focuses more on Zhang Xiao Jing’s effort to recover more clues. Zhang Xiao Jing and Yi Si do indeed head back to Jing An SI and meet Captain Zhao. The little event in the evidence room does come straight from the book.

 

 

Let’s move onto history!

 

The first is the introduction of general 陈玄礼. Li Bi has said quite a few times that his family has ties to the general and we finally get to meet him, albeit only shortly today. 

 

It is unknown as to when he was born but he died in 760. There are records that he was already a member of 李隆基’s close personal guard when 李隆基 overthrew Empress Wei and Princess An Le in 710. 李隆基 ascended the throne to become Emperor Tang Xuan Zong. 陈玄礼 was highly favored during the reign of Emperor Tang Xuan Zong and commanded the Imperial Guard, specifically 龙武军. 

 

陈玄礼’s main claim to fame though was during the An Lu Shan Rebellion which began in 755. He escorted the Royal Retinue including the Emperor, the Crown Prince, and Noble Consort Yang as they fled Chang An. They reached 马嵬坡. 陈玄礼 was one of the men who placed pressure on the Emperor to sentence the then Chancellor Yang Zhong Guo and others to death. Noble Consort Yang was subsequently sentenced to death. 陈玄礼 remained fiercely loyal to Emperor Tang Xuan Zong and accompanied the Emperor to Si Chuan while the then Crown Prince split with group elsewhere. For his efforts, 陈玄礼 was bestowed the title of Duke of Cai. He died in 760 due to illness. As we can see, 陈玄礼 was deeply loyal to the Emperor who didn’t play in matters of politics much. 

 

Throughout the drama, we’ve seen many different armies, each with different status, but as the Imperial Guard, 龙武军, really stood out in their arrogance. Well, as essentially the personal guard of the Emperor, yes, they were justified in their arrogance and that’s why Li Bi constantly tries to find this 龙武军 as even the Right Chancellor can’t capture him under the Imperial Guards.

 

During Li Bi’s encounter with the General, Li Bi asks to see the Great Holy Lantern but he cannot do so without a Golden Fish Pendant.

 

Li Bi unfortunately does NOT have one. The lower rank officials could only wear Silver Fish Pendants. Members of court with a 3rd rank and above could wear the Gold Fish Pendant. If the Emperor really likes you, then he could gift you a 紫金鱼袋 or a Purple Gold Fish Pendant. 

 

Think of these Fish Pendants as corporate IDs, in order to enter your office building, you need some sort of ID or card that will allow you to do so. The Fish pendants were similar. In order to enter into the Royal Palace, even to go to court, you need some sort of identifier. Way back in episode 1, Jiao Sui tells 曹破延 the same. 

 

These Fish pendants come in pairs or you have one full pendant and then it’s split into two. The two part pendants were called 鱼符 and then they would placed into bags that carried them hence in Chinese called 鱼袋 or fish satchels. 

 

These Fish Pendants would have the official’s name, rank, and title engraved on them. I as the official will wear one and the palace will keep the other to ensure that the person entering the palace does indeed have a valid fish pendant. Now it wasn’t always the case that the two parts would 100% match but it was a way to check. 

 

In the book – the author called out that Li Bi had the 紫金鱼袋 so not sure why in front of the General, he said he didn’t have a gold fish pendant. At the beginning of the episode, 姚汝能 is struggling to find someone to help Tan Qi. He finally grabs someone wearing a red robe and we get a shot of the fish pendant. It looks gold in the shot which wouldn’t be accurate because officials wearing red were of the 4th rank. 

 

Lastly, let’s talk briefly about the blacksmith that Zhang Xiao Jing and Yi Si encounter. Before meeting him Yi Si asks if the man they meet 晁分 has any relation to 晁衡 or Abe no Nakamaro. Zhang Xiao Jing affirms that 晁分 is his disciple. 

 

Abe No Nakamoro was a Japanese scholar and poet who served as a Japanese envoy to China. He lived from 698-770. In 717, he left from current day Osaka and traveled to the Tang Empire with a Japanese envoy. He prepared extensively for the trip to learn Tangy Dynasty customs. Once he arrived in Luo Yang, the Emperor Tang Xuan Zong gifted him the opportunity to study with all other young noblemen at 国子监. He was so enamored by the grandeur of the Tang Empire that he decided to stay in China and changed his name to 晁衡. He studied hard and even took the civil entrance exams, passed them, and became a formal member of court. 

 

Over the years, he befriend the greatest poets of the day including 王维 and 李白. He himself was an accomplished poet. There are still several surviving poems from all three of them about each other, which again shows how deep their friendships were.

 

He tried to return to Japan in 752 but his ship was wrecked and ran aground near the coast of modern day northern vietnam. He and his men made it back to Chang An in 755. He joined Emperor Tang Xuan Zong during the An Lu Shan rebellion and safely lived out his life in Chang An until his death in 770. 

 

We won’t get to meet 晁衡 in this drama but 晁分 is the fictitious disciple of 晁衡. What’s interesting is that 晁分 says he’s from 扶桑, which in this drama represents Japan. 扶桑 first appeared in a poem by Qu Yuan the 4th century BC poet so some historians think that 扶桑 actually represents 曲阜 in Shang Dong province. 扶桑 is also mentioned in 山海经 or the Classic of Mountains and Seas as a place east of China were there’s a sacred place that washes the sun. However, the distances were VERY far so it’s unclear exactly where Fu Sang was.

 

During the Tang Dynasty, Japan was also called 倭国. However, there probably were separate references to different Japanese islands at the time. Poets during the time did use Fu Sang in poems especially when writing to Abe No Nakamoro but it’s unclear where Fu Sang actually was. Anyways – a fun little fact about Fu Sang. 

 

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