Ep 43

In the last explosive episode, the Xiao Gui confronted the Emperor, Zhang XIao Jing tried to reduce the fire power of the lantern tower, the lantern tower exploded, Xiao Gui kidnaps the Emperor, Zhang Xiao Jing meets up with Xiao Gui and they’re on their way to escape with a “kidnapped” Tan Qi in tow, pretending to be Yan Yu Huan.

Phew. That was a recap that we could have done for our last episode. It would’ve been 30 seconds for the plot recap. Haha.

Well episode 43 starts off with Xiao Gui ziplining with the Emperor to a rooftop across the plaza to escape capture. Zhang Xiao Jing brings Tan Qi along with them. In a long understanding look, Xiao Gui gazes at his men, the Pi Fu, who helped him all this way, knowing that they are sacrificing themselves for him. Indeed, shortly after, the Long Wu army arrive and hack down the remaining Pi Fu.

Taking a break from the excitement. With the Emperor now kidnapped, we have to turn to damage control. The time now is 3am.

Yuan Zai manages to find where Lin Jiu Lang had barricaded himself along with several other court ministers. Again, unlike many other ministers and court officials who stayed to protect the Emperor, Lin Jiu Lang slipped away to save his life immediately when he saw Xiao Gui. That just goes to show the type of character he is. At the ravaged flower sepal tower, General Guo has a eunuch wear the Emperor’s discarded golden robes to stand at the top of the tower. A decree is announced to the crowd in the plaza while the lantern tower blazes for the civilians to go home and rest, he, the Emperor, is unharmed. The crowd erupts in Cheers thinking nothing is amiss.

As to what is happening with the Emperor, he has been dragged away via the water canals to an unknown place with Xiao Gui and Zhang Xiao Jing. Tan Qi, pretending to be Yan Yu Huan, speaks to the Emperor. He is adamant that someone will rescue him. If not his ministers, he has 30 sons and 30 daughters. But once again, his arrogance shows. Tan Qi asks him if he treats his children well. His response? It is an honor for them to be his children. They should be grateful. Um…. Ok. I’m not sure that’s how this works.

Indeed, the Crown Prince is questioning a eunuch on whether or not there’s news about the Emperor’s whereabouts from a Eunuch. However, the Eunuch is pushing him to take over the role as Emperor as the current Emperor is now kidnapped. The eunuch suggests that the security of the nation is now compromised because the Emperor has been kidnapped. The Crown Prince doesn’t jump on the opportunity to take the throne but decides to mull it over. Meanwhile, the Right Chancellor is more eager to take over. He orders the Right Cavalry to search the city for the Emperor, but his subordinates make sure to hint that just do a cursory search. No need to be too serious about it. Why? Because either way, the Right Chancellor will take power to run court affairs for the Emperor.

The problem is that there has never been a day, at least in history, where there has not been an Emperor. The entire group has only until the new day, when the western market reopens, to find the Emperor. Otherwise, who knows what kind of chaos would rain down upon the Tang dynasty. It becomes a matter of national security in the morning and most likely the Crown Prince will need to ascend the throne to keep order. For the Right Chancellor, that isn’t a good outcome so he would like to help the Prince oF Yong ascend the throne.

It is a sad state of affairs that it seems like out of everyone, only the Crown PRince actually wants to save his father. The Right Chancellor only cares about his own benefits at this point and so does the Prince of Yong. The Right Chancellor is ordering his subordinates in crafting a poor picture of the Crown Prince for tomorrow to depose him of his title.

Fortunately, General Guo back at the Flower Sepal Tower trusts the Crown Prince. Not only that, he also trusts Zhang Xiao Jing. He is the only one to step in to say that if Zhang Xiao Jing really wanted to harm the Emperor, he wouldn’t have taken a fake Yan Tai Zhen. He also scoffed at the Prince of Yong who thought that he survived Zhang XIao Jing’s attack because Zhang Xiao Jing was too tired. General Guo knows Zhang XIao Jing let the Prince of Yong live on purpose.

The issue with the Crown Prince is that he does a lot of things that show filial piety to the Emperor but the Emperor doesn’t know about it. So, General Guo steps in to offer his troops and the Long Wu Army under General Chen Xuan Li’s command to search for the Emperor under the Crown Prince’s name. Right now it’s about saving the Emperor yes, but also making sure that the Crown Prince is seen positively in the act.

SO what happened with the Emperor? There are soldiers who question the old dilapitated temple Xiao Gui and them are hiding out in. Xiao Gui procures weapons and bombs that were hidden there before and, alongisde Zhang Xiao Jing’s help, easily defeat the searching soldiers. However, in the chaos, the Emperor managed to escape from a tunnel from the temple to who knows where. Zhang Xiao Jing suggests to XIao Gui while looking at a map that Xiao Gui procured that the Emperor most likely is escaping to Ping Kang Fang. The two, who agree to meet up at Da吉酒肆 or Da Ji Tavern.

As for the Emperor, he escaped and ended up in civilian homes. But rather than being venerated and able to seek help, he is at first attacked for being a pig stealer and then completely dismissed by a “6th ranked” official when trying to ask him for help. The man derisively shares that with money, anything can be bought in Chang’An. Instead of helping the Emperor, this 6th ranked official beats him up. This is certainly a wake up call for the Emperor.

Beyond this, Cheng Sen back at Jing An Si had been diligently researching clues about who could have been the instigator for tonight’s events. He finds very detailed documents in Xu Bin’s materials that notate a new way to collect taxes. Cheng Sen is very impressed and shares that these plans could mean more money for the Tang while also benefiting civilians of the nation. Ji Wen, however, completely ignores this. INstead, he wants Cheng Sen to find the culprit to tonights events. Because Cheng Sen hasn’t been fruitful, Cheng Sen will instead continue to be the scapegoat for everything that happened. This completely disheartens Cheng Sen who states that he would not want to be in the same court serving with the likes of Ji Wen. And that makes complete sense. There are plans from Xu Bin that could bring about economic prosperity but because it comes from someone like Xu Bin that is poor with no connections, the plans are disregarded.

Ji Wen instead receives orders to seek and kill Director He, Li Bi and Tan Qi. He instructs his soldiers to head out in search while also claiming that the Crown Prince is under suspicion of Treason tonight.

One key theme that was prevalent throughout today’s episode that I do want to highlight is that multiple people asked in various forms, who is person behind the scenes tonight. No one believes that a few old soldiers are able to enact such a grand plan tonight and even succeed in kidnapping the Emperor. No one. Everyone believes that someone with a lot of power must be the one to instigate everything and the primary suspect is the Crown Prince. He is the one who would benefit the most from tonight’s event and therefore is most likely the one, that many people believe, orchestrated the whole thing. Even Zhang Xiao JIng does not believe that Xiao Gui came to Chang An without help.

This was an intense episode for the Emperor. He finally got to face the realities of his empire but will he learn anything from this?

Let’s now turn to history.

First and foremost, let discuss the eunuch 李辅国. He’s the eunuch essentially pressuring the Crown Prince to seize the throne because the Emperor has been kidnapped. This is a lot of heavy foreshadowing.

There is little known about the eunuch 李辅国’s early years. We don’t even know his real name. He was born in 704 and we just know that he was castrated as a young boy and became a trusted advisor for the Crown Prince.

In 755, when the An Lu Shan Rebellion broke out, 李辅国 was amongst those who persuaded then Crown Prince to stay behind in Chang An while the Emperor Tang Xuan Zong escaped to fight off the invaders.

The eunuch was also amongst those who successfully persuaded the Crown Prince to then claim the throne at 灵武 in 756. The Crown Prince became 唐肃宗. This heavily echoes the pressure that the eunuch places on the Crown Prince in this episode. The now Emperor, still leaning heavily on 李辅国, fits the name of 辅国, which literally translates to advising the country. That is a very high praise. The eunuch also received the title of duke of Cheng and controlled much of the military.

By 757, 唐肃宗 returned to Chang An, as did 唐玄宗. 李辅国 abused his powers to strip away much of Emperor Tang Xuan Zong’s remaining powers and support. General 高力士 was exiled and general 陈玄礼 was forced to retire. During the reign of emperor Tang Su Zong, 李辅国 wielded so much power that he stamped out opposition and strove to be the first eunuch Chancellor. It was only until the reign of Emperor Tang Dai Zong in 762 did he fall from grace and was killed by the Emperor.

We see a little bit of 李辅国’s true colors in his short exchange with the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince is still trying to save his father, while the eunuch has eyes for power.

The next topic I want to discuss is the prayer that the old woman repeats when the Emperor escapes and pops out of a pig sty.

子胥不在,曹夫人已行,小姑可出.

There’s actually a legend tied to this!

Legend has it, Zi Gu was a woman from the Tang Dynasty. Her original name was 何媚. During the reign of Emperor Wu Ze Tian, an official named 李景, who desired 何媚, killed 何媚’s husband and forced her to become his concubine. 李景’s main wife was a jealous and spiteful woman who couldn’t bear to be in 何媚’s presence due to her beauty. On one Lantern Festival night, the main wife killed 何媚 as she was in the bathroom.

何媚’s ghost remained at the bathroom and whenever 李景 would go to the restroom, claimed that he heard crying, as if from a ghost. The Emperor heard of this, took pity on 何媚’s plight, and declared her a deity. I don’t quite know how we got 紫姑 but she’s now known as 紫姑神 or Zi Gu Deity.

From then on, women would pray to her either in the form of a paper doll or a wooden doll. The women would say the prayer as we heard in the drama 子胥不在,曹夫人已行,小姑可出. Or the Husband is gone. The wife has also left. You can now come out.

If the doll that is being prayed to moves, then that means the deity is giving a sign. 紫姑神 is the bathroom deity but also for house pets too, which makes sense as to why the old woman was praying about the pig.

The joke was – the Emperor’s over there comparing himself to the Legendary Emperors of old and he pops out from a pig sty being batted about and apparently neglected by even the bathroom deity. I mean – he kind of deserves it.

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