Ep 37

The Emperor awakes from his nap and states that he’s hungry. Drumbeats sound that the Emperor is awake.

In front of the Emperor, the Right Chancellor is eager to have Director He sentenced with a crime. The Emperor, though, is pointed in his questioning. Is the Right Chancellor that eager to kill the crown prince? Should we open the feast tonight? Or continue with court matters? The Right Chancellor, shaking on his knees against this line of questioning, has no choice but to cry out, they should open the feast.


This is a REALLY interesting response from the Right Chancellor. Several episodes ago, when in his own residence, Li Bi questions the Right Chancellor with, is the Law more important or is Rite R-I-T-E more important? The Right Chancellor dismissed Li Bi and said of course it’s the Law.


Here though – the Emperor gives the Right Chancellor two options:

  1. Start the Feast – RITE
  2. Discuss Government Affairs – LAW


The Right Chancellor crumbles under the stare of the Emperor and chooses RITE over LAW. This is what Li Bi said earlier! 


The time is 1am. 


We are met with a splendid scene of the food for the feast being brought to the table, musicians start the music and dancers join in the festivities. The Emperor heads to the balcony and sees the beautiful lantern tower and simply states that Master Mao Shun now better understands the Emperor.

Inside the Lantern tower, Zhang Xiao Jing is trying to understand why on earth Master Mao Shun would agree to killing the Emperor and destroying Chang’An. Mao Shun’s simple response is that he’s greedy. But there’s more to it.  The tower cost 4million qian to build, an astronomical number. At first, Mao Shun was very pleased as the proceeds would help him pay for a nice property on Le You Yuan. 

Except, he heard there was flood that resulted in hundreds of thousands of victims. Except the government didn’t have money to pay for disaster relief. Someone at one point said, the Emperor will halt the construction of the tower to move funds for disaster relief but the order never came. One day on the construction site, Mao Shun heard someone say that one qian or equivalent of one dollar could give one piece of bread to keep them alive for one day. If it’s a child, they could survive for 2 days.  From then on, that thought lingered in his head.

That is why he is willing to help create this lantern into a weapon. He wants to have his name live on for eternity, even if it’s a bad one. He is willing to kill the Emperor at the moment he is happiest in order to serve as a warning to future architects and craftsmen of what one should do and how one should live. It is more important to be righteous. He hopes that this action will force future generations to not waste resources on such extravagance when it could be used to save people’s lives.

This is a deviation of the book and is a change that adds a lot of depth to this character. In the book, Mao Shun was threatened with the lives of his family to do the bidding of Long Bo. He had no other choice but to acquiesce to Long Bo’s bidding and did not have much say in the matter. Here, in the drama, Mao Shun recognized the wasteful nature of the Emperor and the damage it is doing to the Tang dynasty. At the beginning of the drama, we see how problematic this is with the Emperor’s line of Mao Shun now knows the Emperor’s tastes better. That might be true, but it massively detracts from what the Emperor should be caring about – his people. This little explanation from Mao Shun makes him, to me at least, a profound character. He doesn’t mind giving up his life and being the villain if it means saving future generations of people. He is so utterly disappointed with the system, the Emperor and to a point, himself, for indirectly causing the death of thousands by redirecting funds away from them that he believes this is his best path forward. 

In front of Zhang XIao Jing, Mao Shun gives him two options. Save the Emperor? Or save the civilians. If he wants to save the civilians, he must blow up Mao SHun.  Zhang Xiao Jing makes the difficult decision without much hesitation. He will sacrifice Mao Shun to save the thousands gathered outside. He heads up the steps within the tower as an explosion occurs behind him. Zhang Xiao Jing made his choice. He cares more for the civilians of Chang An rather than the Emperor. A decision that Long Bo is languishing over. In front of a tied up Li Bi, Long Bo explains that he knows Zhang Xiao Jing much better than Li Bi and he is the reason why Long Bo is here in Chang An, hoping to kill the Emperor in the first place. 


In the flower sepal tower or Hua E Lou, another brilliant battle is on display. We even get a little side commentary of sorts to explain what’s going on. The crown prince cuts a piece of meat that the Emperor refuses but offers to the Right Chancellor first. The Right Chancellor, instead of accepting this piece of meat, openly states that he wants to use the restroom. This is quite out of decorum and is considered extremely rude of him to refuse somethign from the Crown Prince himself. But, as the two side court dignitaries discuss, one a foreign diplomat, everything is a show. This is exactly what the Emperor wants you to see. Who he prefers, who he does not prefer is on plain display. Right now, the Crown Prince is not on the Emperor’s good side.


The Right Chancellor excused himself and several other court officials that could be considered part of the Crown Prince’s faction, also excuse themselves. They are taking this opportunity to all take private meetings to discuss next steps. The Prince of Yong is thinking he will be able to take up the mantle of Crown Prince tonight but as he leaves, the Right Chancellor calls him an idiot. Indeed, he would not be able to fight off the likes of the Right Chancellor if the Prince of Yong was indeed made crown prince. 


Back at the main hall, the Emperor begins publicly admonishing the Crown Prince. He thinks that the Crown Prince is putting on a display of frugality when in reality, he has his own tower that is even better than the Flower Sepal Hall. The argument escalates as the Crown Prince reiterates that he always sees the Emperor as his father. The Emperor, however, screams that he is wrong. The Emperor is the Tang Emperor. That tells us that the Emperor thinks he is the most important person out there. He doesn’t care about being a father. Only the Emperor.


In a move that I actually think is quite brilliant, the Crown Prince responds with a raised voice that he requests the Emperor then, to give his teacher, Director He a seat. The Crown Prince then promptly grabs a plate of meat he cut up and feeds a piece to the aged Director He. Director He seems touched but speechless at this action while the Emperor storms over and states that he is exteremly disappointed at both the Director and the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince doesn’t look at him, just says that his teacher, Director He is more of a father than his father, before feeding his teacher another piece of meat. The Emperor has no words to this and slowly walks back to his chair at the top of the room. He does agree to give Director He a seat at the table however. 

Back in the lantern tower, Long Bo explains to Li Bi his master plan. The water wheel will extend the qi lin arms that will be his present to the Emperor. When the tower is lit, the entire lantern tower will be the explosion. Long Bo is waiting until 2am, when the Emperor climbs atop the Hua E tower and shoots an arrow into the lantern tower. THat is when everything will be set ablaze. Li Bi tries to grab the attention of someone in the Flower Sepal Tower by waving his arms or another lantern, but to no avail. No one even notices him. 


As for Zhang Xiao Jing, he tries to head up the tower to see exactly who is the mastermind behind everything but Yu Chang is there waiting for him. They enter into a furious battle but Zhang XIao Jing gets caught in one of the mechanisms for the tower. As Yu Chang states, Zhang Xiao Jing isn’t as spry as he once was, especially after being imprisoned for 6 months. Surprisingly, Yu Chang doesn’t just up and kill him. Instead, she finally has a rather calm conversation with him. He questions her as to who is upstairs and is the person behind everything today. Yu Chang says that he is like you, both of you are good people. I thought that was interesting because she acknowledges that Zhang Xiao Jing is a good person even though she wants to murder him. 


We get the backstory between Yu Chang and Long Bo. Long Bo rescued Yu Chang who was being attacked by a number of mercenaries. Long Bo doesn’t know Yu Chang at all but decides to step in and save her because he couldn’t stand watching so many people attack a sole person. Because of his actions, he was forced to leave the mercenary town. Yu Chang spent many years searching for him only for him to reach out to her in september last year for a contract in Chang An. We see them in their hideout in Chang An. Long Bo is blunt but that does not hide his kindness. The poor would receive bags of money in the neighborhood which Yu Chang suspects was given by Long Bo. Long Bo became leader of this organization not through force, but because the members willingly want to follow him. He rescued many veterans without even knowing them. Afterwards, they all started following him and felt that with him, they can do work that has meaning. 


Zhang Xiao Jing asks why then did he become a criminal? Yu Chang retorts back, isn’t Zhang XIao Jing also a criminal? What made a good person like Zhang Xiao Jing turn into a criminal? Zhang Xiao Jing doesn’t answer. He knows the answer deep down.


Yu Chang gives Zhang Xiao Jing a red pill to help him get back on his feet and the two resume fighting. But before the fighting can get too intense, Wen Ran uses her special fragrance to knock both of them unconscious. In flashbacks, we see the brutal fighting on Feng Sui Bao or the Defence Beacon and also the issues surrounding why so many men died that day. We leave episode 37 there. 


The drama fleshes out Yu Chang a little more as well. In the book, she does get rescued by Long Bo but offers repayment through the coin bracelet on her wrist. She is more of a mercenary for hire that is full of hatred for Zhang XIao Jing because in the book, he broke her arm. Long Bo has to call her off of Zhang Xiao Jing rather than the calmer conversations we see here in the drama.  

Alrighty! Now onto history!


During the conversation between 毛顺 and 张小敬, 毛顺 mentions 乐游原 or a specific garden. The garden itself has several names including 乐游阙、乐游苑、鸿固原. During the Western Han Dynasty, specifically during the reign of Emperor 汉宣帝 who lived in the 1st century BC. He had a temple built in an area in the southeastern part of Chang An, close to his own tomb, and named it 乐游庙. During the Tang Dynasty, the area itself became a tourist location.


It has been the subject of several poems including ones written 李商隐, 李白, 杜甫. It was even the name of a drama including last year’s Wonderland of Love.

Let us now turn to the feast at hand. 

There are 4 magnificent fully roasted lambs presented at the feast. One note – I can’t tell if they are goat of lamb because in Chinese, we mainly just state 羊 for the animal. If we wanted to differentiate with Goat – that would be 山羊 and 羔羊 for Lamb.

As we’ve seen throughout the the drama, 羊 or Lamb was the favorite meat of choice during the Tang Dynasty.

In previous eras such as the Qin and Han Dynasties, Pork was the primary meat of choice. However, during the 魏 kingdom and the subsequent 晋 dynasty, nomadic tribes invaded China with varying forms of success. Lamb or Goat was the meat of choice for those nomadic people. By the Tang Dynasty, Lamb overtook Pork as the preferential choice of meat from the nobility all the way down to the common people. There aren’t formal records of how many Lambs or Goats were consumed daily in the Imperial palace. We do have records that during the Later Tang or 后唐, which only ruled for under 2 decades in the 10th century, the palace consumed 200 Lambs or Goats daily. This must mean that during the Tang Dynasty, in its prime, the palace must have consumed wayyy more than 200. Common folk couldn’t eat Lamb regularly but lamb was often featured for special holidays. 


There was also a dish called 饆饠 毕罗. Everyone from the Royal household to peasants ate this. The recipe was simple. Cut the Lamb meat into small cubes, cook with rice, and then have a bunch of sauces to add flavor. It’s a little similar to what we currently have in Xinjiang as Hand Grab Rice. Often you’d piece of flour, kind of similar to naan, and wrap the meat. 


In the episode, when feast begins, we see the maids pick up a bunch of plates to serve. It looks as though the meat is lamb and then added with other greens or sauces that would make an excellent wrap. That’s the 饆饠. According to my research – this is derived from the Turkic phrase for a similar dish.


Next – the Right Chancellor shocks everyone by insulting the Crown Prince and refusing the Crown Prince’s gift of the first bite. The Right Chancellor asks if he is allowed to “登东“ or literally in Chinese – to Mount East. Everyone is shocked at this because the Right Chancellor is asking if he can use the bathroom in front of everyone. 


登东 is a VERY elegant way to say – go to the bathroom. I’ve never heard of it before this drama. The reason why this act is named as such is because historically, bathrooms were built in a building or room’s eastern corner. Hence why – 登东 or Mount East. Regardless of how elegant it’s said – the act of stating that the Right Chancellor needed to go, was indeed very insulting.


Moving on, we’re gonna have some quick hits. With Long Bo and Li Bi standing up on the towers, there are a few statues holding weapons in each of the “windows”. I believe they represent animals on the Zodiac. I see the Ox in the one next to Li Bi and Long Bo. I see a Rabbit and possibly a Tiger too. 


When Yu Chang is recounting her time with Long Bo, she states that followers of the Zoroastrian faith would state that the god Mazda or 马兹达 was watching over them. I did a quick search and Ahura Mazda was the creator deity and god of the sky in the Zoroastrian faith. Something clicked in my mind because when watching it, I heard 马兹达 and was like Mazda? The car company? Turns out – yes, the car company did change its name to Mazda, both after Ahura Mazda but also after the founder Jujiro Matsuda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>