Ep 45 pt 2 + 46

For today’s episode, we’ll stick primarily with Zhang Xiao Jing. He rescued the Emperor and brought him onto a carriage along with Xiao Gui. Tan Qi is directing the carriage. They head to a checkpoint to Huai Yuan Fang where soldiers from the Right Cavalry inspect the carriage. Zhang XIao JIng downplays the group saying they’re soldiers and brothers, bringing their old man home for the holiday. The Emperor starts screaming about how this was a kidnap situation which raises the alarm from the soldiers, but then puts on a show that makes him seem like an angry father annoyed that his sons want to split the inheritance. This reduces the suspicion from the guards who just think he’s an old man with too much to drink. They are allowed to pass without further notice. However, if you listen to what the Emperor says, it is quite pointed. 

 

He yells that no one listens to what the old man wants, they all want something from him. THe inheritance, do people know how he got that wealth? Can they even protect and maintain that wealth? The wealth should be given to the people! 

 

From here, we see that the Emperor isn’t as neglectful as he seems. He understands that his son the crown prince probably isn’t up to the task of managing the Empire. He’s upset that everyone only ever wants things from him now. He also knows who the empire should be given to. The people of the empire. 

 

Xiao Gui acknowledges what the Emperor says and questions whether or not it was said specifically to appease them but gestures threateningly when the Emperor urges Xiao Gui to send him back to the palace.

 

The group makes it to the Da Ji Tavern to hide. Problem is, the barber at the beginning of the drama, carrying his daughter, just so happens to also try to take shelter in the Tavern because he was not able to make it home. When Xiao Gui finally allows the pair to enter, the barber realizes that he probably should not have come here. The tavern owner is bound and gagged while he sees a discheveled old man, 2 gruff looking men and a neatly dressed and kneeling woman.  The barber is also tied up and gives information to Xiao Gui about the soldiers and checkpoints at each of the fang doors.

 

In this moment of calm in the tavern, the Emperor dances in order to distract the young girl but Zhang XIao Jing and Xiao Gui get into an argument. Xiao Gui wants to kill the Empero rpublicly in the morning but zhang xiao jing is against this idea. At least not in Chang An. More importantly, Zhang XIao Jing wants to know exactly why or how Xiao Gui ended up in Chang on only a month after the death of Wen Wu Ji when ZHang Xiao Jing spent years searching for Xiao Gui to no avail. 

 

Time is now 6AM Dawn

 

In episode 46, Zhang XIao Jing continues his tired fist fight with Xiao Gui after he instructs Tan Qi to report the matter. She pelts back to Jing An Si to retrieve troops. 

 

In this episode, we see Xiao Gui’s anger waiver. He wants to kill the Emperor and is furious at his preference for the Right Chancellor because they caused the deaths of his close friends. Xiao Gui recounts very touching stories of Wen Wu Ji and other brothers of the 8th squad who are now all dead mostly by the Right Chancellor and by extension, the Emperor’s hands. 

 

The situation in the tavern gets tense as Xiao Gui knocks unconscious the old father of the tavern owner. The Emperor does his best to revive him with permission from Xiao Gui because in the end, as Zhang Xiao Jing tries to implore, Xiao Gui doesn’t want to kill innocent civilians. 

 

At this point, Tan Qi has returned to Jing An Si while Xiao Gui also decides that the Emperor cannot die silently and decides to announce to the street that he has the Emperor hostage. Multiple troops set out to “save” the Emperor. One of the Lv Ben Jun led by Wang Yun Xiu and Yuan Zai, the other is the Right Cavalry. But in the midst of both troops are spies most likely from the Right Chancellor. They are wearing the gear of either troop but they snuck in.

 

Before these troops arrive though, the Emperor brings some liquor to both Zhang Xiao Jing and Xiao Gui. He drinks to the deceased members of the 8th squad and explains that he doesn’t believe any of his sons are stronger than him nor are they up to the task of taking over the country. Is he at fault for trying to find someone who is capable? 

 

But in the most surprising act, the Emperor agrees for Xiao Gui to have his revenge on him, as long as he lets the Emperor’s citizens go. The Emperor then kneels down in front of Xiao Gui. The Emperor. Kneeling. This shocks Xiao Gui. 

 

He agrees and allows the barber and his daughter to go. The barber is tearfully protecting his daughter begging to be allowed to survive which Xiao Gui is willing to do. But unfortunately, outside of the doors are two different troops waiting for them. In an instant, the poor barber is shot dead with multiple arrows to the body. He dies protecting his daughter, using his body to cover her and they fall to the ground. She is left crying out for him. He should have listened to 曹破延 all the way back in episode 1 to stay indoors.

 

Arrows continue to fly and one of the soldiers from Lv Ben Jun actually continues to try to shoot an arrow to silence the young girl. Surprisingly, Yuan Zai is shocked and questions why the soldier did that. The child is innocent. The soldier only responds that the girls cries were annoying. How infuriating is that. Soldiers just killing needlessly because they were annoyed. Here is the one ounce of humanity from Yuan Zai. He has no qualms in manipulating others for gain, but killing innocent children is one step too far. 

 

The sight of the barber’s tragic death and the daughter still crying out on the streets angers the Emperor, Xiao Gui and Zhang Xiao Jing. Xiao Gui realizes that none of them will leave alive but they must save the girl. 

 

Xiao Gui and Zhang Xiao Jing gather the remaining Crouching Fire that they have an prepare to save the girl. Xiao Gui states that they should let the soldiers see the Emperor but Zhang Xiao Jing dismisses him because he knows that these soldiers don’t care about the Emperor. They will kill him. The imperial court will simply say that the Emperor died of a sudden illness. So the main goal is to keep the Emperor hidden. Pay attention to this.

 

Zhang Xiao Jing and Xiao Gui charge out, and with the help of the crouching fire are able to fend off the girl. But JUST as the two were about to grab her. The Emperor charges out with no protection announcing that he’s the Emperor. 

 

Gan Shou Cheng and Wang Yun Xiu immediately call off the attack but the spies ignore these orders and continue to shoot arrows. In the fray, Zhang Xiao Jing saves the girl, Xiao Gui saves the Emperor. But in a visually striking scene – we see that Xiao Gui has been struck with 2 arrows. The Emperor is still adamant that he leave the premises. 

 

Tan Qi, who was also with Yuan Zai and Wang Yun Xiu is diverted to the back alley and unfortunately cannot rescue anyone as she must fend off other soldiers. Wang Yun Xiu, surprisingly, kills the spies. 

In his injured state, Xiao Gui asks Zhang Xiao Jing if Chang An is worth it. To this point, Zhang Xiao Jing still says, Chang An is my home. If something is broken, I’ll patch it up one by one. Xiao Gui knows his end is coming. He leaves their hiding place, making Zhang Xiao Jing promise that Zhang Xiao Jing will take his eyes to see Chang An. For him Xiao Gui, his flag was outside, and his flag must always be standing. He must protect the flag. With that statement, he makes a stand outside and is immediately cut down by the horde of soldiers.

What an ending for Xiao Gui, the mysterious character who we’ve been following since the beginning. At the beginning, Xiao Gui was simply the evil mastermind Long Bo. But as we saw his story, especially with the 8th squad, I know I began to sympathize with him. He saw the injustices in the Empire and tried to make a point. In his heart, he was still the Flag Bearer, Xiao Gui, a member of the 8th squad. He had many people killed tonight so I won’t condone his actions, but compared to the other factions that we see in the drama, was he truly evil?

 

In my mind, there are 3 other “parties” just as, if not more evil, than Xiao Gui or Long Bo. The first party, obviously, is the Right Chancellor. He relishes in power and was the cause of much anguish in this series. Even in this episode, his goal was to frame the crown prince by having soldiers attempt to kill the Emperor. Regardless if the Crown Prince died or if the Emperor died this night, he would be the winner and clench power in the Empire.

 

The second party includes the men at the bottom of the bureaucratic totem pole. This includes the likes of Yuan Zai and Ji Wen. They’re the executors of the schemes from up top and highly focused on their own personal gains. They will not hesitate to accuse others such as Cheng Sen or commit horrible atrocities such as killing civilians if they can move up the ladder in court.

 

Finally, the third, includes perhaps men who think they’re justified in their actions and are standing on side of the righteous but at the end resort to death and manipulation. That group includes He Fu, and, who we’ll see in the next two episodes, the big bad. To achieve their aims, they agree to enact this plot of hiring the Wolf Squad, threatening the lives of thousands, and potentially destroying Chang An, all to make a point or for revenge. 

 

Of these three parties, where does Xiao Gui fit in? Does he actually rise to the level of depravity or corruption? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, he still held hope for the Tang and refused to the kill the Emperor. Leading to his own death. 

 

Let’s pour one out for Xiao Gui.

 

 

At the end of episode 45, the Emperor tries to keep the spirits up for the young girl. He says, let me dance 小破阵舞 or Little Dance of Breaking the Enemy Line. The most famous 破阵舞 originates from the 秦王破阵乐 or Prince of Qin Music of Breaking the Enemy Line. It was a dance that was performed at the palace during the Tang dynasty and one of the most famous pieces of dance music in the Chinese canon. It was originally a song for the Tang military. In 620, then Prince of Qin 李世民 defeated the rebel 刘武周, solidifying power under the Tang Empire. His men took the original tune and added new lyrics to the song praising the Prince of Qin. Li Shi Min ascended the throne and personally adapted the song into a type of martial arts dance that was to be performed for grand occasions. This was meant to include over 120 musicians in the orchestra, with over 2000 performers including horses. It was by all intents and purposes, a spectacle to showcase the grandeur of the Tang Empire. The music traveled far and wide, including to India when the monk 唐玄奘 finally reached India for his religious pilgrimage. 

 

During the era of Tang Xuan Zong, 小破阵舞 or Little Dance of Breaking the Enemy Line, was derived from the original Prince of Qin Music of Breaking the Enemy Line, which is what we see in the drama today. 

 

Unfortunately, there are no surviving scores for the dance or music in China. However, there are surviving scores in Japan for several instruments including 琵琶, 筝, and 笛.

 

In the beginning of episode 46, Xiao Gui knocks an old man unconscious and is right at death’s door. The old man’s son refuses to flee without his father and the Emperor, in an act of kindness, also requests from Xiao Gui to tend to the old man in hopes of reviving him. 

 

The Emperor administers a type of CPR. He mutters a few phrases which actually comes from 金匮要略 or Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet.

 

This text was written by the noted Eastern Han Dynasty physician 张仲景 who lived from 150–219. It was a series of text found in another compendium of his called 伤寒杂病论 Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases. 

 

As for the Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet, it is the oldest remaining medicinal text from China to describe treatments for pathogenic and miscellaneous diseases. The name “Golden Cabinet” refers to these Golden Cabinets that were stored to record Imperial documents, showcasing that this text itself was very rare and prized. The whole text is comprised of 3 volumes and 25 chapters, chronicling 60 illnesses with over 262 remedies. For his contributions,张仲景 is known as the sage of Chinese medicine.

 

The full 伤寒杂病论 Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases was lost during the Three Kingdoms period. There was an effort to compile the text in later centuries but was only successful in gathering 10 volumes. During the Northern Song Dynasty, a scholar found 3 volumes that described miscellaneous diseases. It was only in during that era did this book become compiled to what we know now as 金匮要略 or Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet. In the drama, the Emperor is the one reciting the practice and it COULD be that since he was the Emperor, he knew enough of these texts to be able to administer the CPR. This is one of those instances where the Emperor would have unique information simply because he is the emperor. 

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