This is a volare special recap series for the official iQiyi web version of Legend of Yun Xi 《芸汐传》. Please note that these will all be image heavy posts that contain spoilers and/or deviations from the original webnovel!
Episode 2: Palace Pressures (Preview Clip)
We continue from the last episode with Gu Qishao rejecting all of Chu Xifeng and Long Feiye’s money offers and walking off. Seeing this, Long Feiye wrecks a section of the cliffside and hurls the rocks at Gu Qishao, who quickly matches him. A contest of wills ensues between the two male leads, but ultimately Long Feiye emerges triumphant.
I suspect this is one of many I hate you so much glares we’ll be seeing from them this series.
Gu Qishao still doesn’t want to let them in, so Long Feiye orders the valley be burned. Hearing this, Gu Qishao smirks and calls him out for not even caring about the consequences of his actions—for sure, Long Feiye must be no ordinary man. Then he goads Long Feiye into burning the valley anyways, because it’ll probably burn up whatever he wants in it as well. He doesn’t care either way. Things look to be at a stalemate until Bai Su gets irritated and leaves the protection of the poison mist to fight them. She’s soon overpowered and held at swordpoint by Long Feiye.
Still, LFY’s willing to negotiate and offers up a box to Gu Qishao containing a rare plant: the Six Fiend Iris (柳煞鸢尾, or liu sha yuan wei). It’s capable of curing hundreds of poisons. Seeing this, and knowing that his ‘Poison lass’ is safely away, Gu Qishao relents and lets them in. (He seems to be able to deactivate the poison fog at will like a light switch, which makes me wonder what’s keeping it going in the first place. Really interesting.) The search by Long Feiye’s subordinates yield nothing, and they leave empty-handed—but generous enough to let Gu Qishao keep their gift. Of course, Long Feiye still tells Chu Xifeng to have someone keep an eye on the mysterious valley master.
Back at the creepy temple, Crown Prince Long Tianmo inspects the aftermath of last night’s attack. According to the reports, 15 people invaded the grounds last night—14 men and 1 woman. (Uh-oh, did our Han Yunxi get caught up in this mess as well?) They only managed to kill 5 of the intruders but have no info on the rest. Long Tianmo is disgusted with their ineptitude and kills a subordinate to dispel his temper. Don’t work for him, folks.
We soon join Long Feiye again, this time enjoying fancy tea from the late emperor with the empress dowager. Apparently, it’s so exquisite she doesn’t even bear to let the current emperor drink it, but she’s fine giving Long Feiye an entire cup. She chides Long Feiye for drinking the tea so quickly instead of enjoying it properly, but he excuses himself with the fact that he’s eager to go home and see his mother again. The empress dowager relents and lets Long Feiye leave, but orders her servant to smash and trash the tea cup he used as soon as he’s gone.
Empress Dowager: Ugh, Giant Ice Cube cooties are the worst.
Back in her chambers, the empress dowager hears an interesting story from her servant: apparently, the Wind Dew tea causes allergic reactions in certain people. An unlucky servant girl broke into rashes and fainted from sneaking the tea once, but interesting enough, so did the Duke of Qin when he was young. Yet this time, he was able to drink the tea and leap onto his horse with no ill effects at all. If he was truly allergic, it should have reacted in him by now. Moreover, the servant mentions a fire that took place years ago—everyone caught in the flames died except the Duke of Qin.
When you have the Male Lead halo, flames like this are nuthin’.
Both the servant and empress dowager suspect that something’s off about the Duke of Qin, but they can’t move outright to accuse him or tell the emperor. If Emperor Tianhui, her son, gets wind of the rumor, he’d start investigating for sure, and touch upon the fire from all those years ago. In actuality, it was the empress dowager herself who orchestrated the blaze, so she’s reluctant to set her son on her own tail for fear of punishment. The servant suggest that they send a spy to the Duke of Qin’s estate instead and empress dowager decides to set off for the emperor’s quarters.
Nightfall at the Duke of Qin’s estate. Grand Concubine Yi is doting on her son as always, making him all his favorite foods. She expresses relief and pride that he’s come back home in glory, then clearly hints to him that he’s about the age to marry. Why not consider Miss Baili, who visits their estate every year? She’d make a fine match, and it’s about time he settled down despite being such a big ice block.
One of the biggest surprises to me in this drama is just how pleasant Grand Concubine Yi seems. She has a very sweet voice and Long Feiye seems to genuinely respect her with seemingly more warmth than in the novel.
Long Feiye tactfully leaves the entire affair to his mother, stating that he’d be willing to marry whoever makes her happy. Grand Concubine Yi is delighted by the admission even as Long Feiye looks hesitant at the idea of marriage at all.
Meanwhile, the empress dowager has reached Emperor Tianhui’s quarters and brings up the issue of Long Feiye’s marriage. When the empress dowager was younger, she was afflicted with a poison that was cured by the pregnant Lady Tianxin. Afterwards, the empress dowager jokingly remarked that if Lady Tianxin gave birth to a girl, she would marry her to the fourth imperial son—Long Feiye. Emperor Tianhui curiously asks whether this daughter exists, and the empress dowager reveals that she’s none other than the Han Clan’s daughter of the first wife, Han Yunxi.
Surprised, Emperor Tianhui asks whether she’s the same Han Yunxi known for her overwhelming ugliness and poison scar, and the empress dowager nods with a smile. Emperor Tianhui approves because the Han Clan has neither status nor backing in the imperial court. He’ll send an official imperial decree tomorrow.
This is probably the clearest bronze mirror I’ve ever seen in an ancient Chinese drama setting.
Back at the Han Estate, Han Yunxi is feeling depressed that her newest prescription did nothing to cure her poison scar even with the extra flower ingredient added in. (cough no thanks to you, Han Congan cough) Her thoughts are interrupted when Emperor Tianhui’s decree arrives at the palace, ordering her to marry the Duke of Qin on an auspicious date. Han Ruoxue is so incredulous at the news that she blurts out of turn, earning a rebuke from both the eunuch and her father for her lack of propriety. After accepting the decree, Han Congan apologizes for his younger daughter’s behavior and pays off the eunuch to make amends. Han Yunxi is told to come immediately to the palace to meet the empress dowager and goes to make preparations. On the other side of the city, Grand Concubine Yi is privately fuming over the arrangements. In her eyes, Miss Baili is the superior match, especially since she’s the daughter of Long Feiye’s trusted General Baili. What can a measly Han Clan and its imperial physician offer in time? She vows to never let Han Yunxi enter the estate—but even if she does, there are ways to demote her once she joins the family.
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi bids farewell to her mother’s portrait, saying that she’ll finally be leaving the estate. Her father then comes and says he’ll try all means to stop the marriage. Han Yunxi asks him why he would do that, to which he asks if she really wants to marry the Duke of Qin. Han Yunxi then presents him with the alternative: her staying home and growing old and ugly for the rest of her life.
Han Congan stares at Lady Tianxin’s portrait for awhile before repeating his daughter Han Ruoxue’s words: how could someone like Han Yunxi ever be a fitting match to the Duke of Qin in her current state? She’d only make the Han Clan a laughingstock if she married him. Han Yunxi argues back that she’s more than worthy, because it was the empress dowager who first decreed the marriage and now the emperor who’s enforcing it. She accuses her father of being afraid that she’ll expose all his wrongdoings as her father after she becomes Qin Wangfei. When Han Congan demands her to explain herself, Han Yunxi simply says that she knows he doesn’t love her, but she wouldn’t be so unfilial do so such a thing. Whatever the case, their relationship has been strained for a long time, and it’s obvious that Han Congan is hiding something from his poignant pauses and stares. >u>
Meanwhile, Long Tianmo has returned to the capital to deliver bad news about the missing Poison Gu boy to his imperial uncle. (Judging by his age, he’s most likely from Emperor Tianhui’s father’s generation and probably a brother of the ex-emperor.) The imperial uncle is stunned—hadn’t the Poison Gu boy already died? Long Tianmo admits that he lied to him and his father about the fact, and that he stole one of the poison manuals to boot—both of which have now been stolen. The imperial uncle calls him out for his rashness, but Long Tianmo protests, saying he did it in self-defense. With Emperor Tianhui favoring the second imperial son and even letting him manage the Poison Sect, Long Tianmo has been forced to find other ways to hold onto his crown prince position.
Even in the drama, this guy just goes by “Tianning Country’s imperial uncle.” I guess he’s destined to never have a name.
The imperial uncle rebukes Long Tianmo for doing things that would only incite His Majesty’s suspicion and distrust. Long Tianmo asks for forgiveness and begs his uncle for help. They work together to decipher the clues: apparently the leader of the intruders knew sword skills hailing from Northern Li. Long Tianmo asks whether they should start from there, but the imperial uncle says that the clues are way too obvious. They’ll look there for now, but keep an eye open for other developments.
Meanwhile, Long Feiye has finally received Emperor Tianhui’s delayed summons to the palace and arrives in full military gear. He’s stopped by the guards, who proclaim that there are no weapons nor armor allowed within the palace. Chu Xifeng balks at the words, saying that His Majesty clearly gave the Duke of Qin permission to keep his armor in his presence before sending him to battle, but he, Long Feiye, and General Baili are still forced to wait outside for Emperor Tianhui’s final decision. Not for the first time in these two episodes, Long Feiye gives an exasperated sigh.
Long Feiye: Not this crap again Tianhui
While the emperor and his ministers debate matters of state, the eunuch from the Han Clan has led Han Yunxi, face veil and all, into the palace to the empress dowager’s hall. The empress dowager plays nice with Han Yunxi and even goads her with the ultimate question: Do you think your mother is actually dead? Han Yunxi says she doesn’t. The empress dowager then asks her if she’d be willing to help her in exchange for information on her mother, to which Han Yunxi is reluctant. But seeing as how her mother vanished only after leaving the palace, she suspects that the empress dowager might really have some clues. The empress dowager promises that she’ll not only tell Han Yunxi where her mother is, but allow the two to meet. (I notice she never did mention whether or not Lady Tianxin would still be alive when that reunion happens… >.>) The empress dowager orders her servant to present Han Yunxi with a certain item.
Back in the sun, Long Feiye and his men are told that His Majesty won’t be seeing them today. Chu Xifeng is indignant when he hears that the emperor and his ministers are deliberating about the injuries and effects of the recent war. It was the Duke of Qin, he says, who proposed signing a treaty to avoid war in the first place, yet all of the ministers rejected his idea. Now they’re complaining about the fallout from the battle where the Duke of Qin risked his life? Would they start blaming the Duke of Qin for simply following orders next?! Both General Baili and Long Feiye tell him to control himself while we viewers bask in the convenient backstory.
In response, Long Feiye says that he’ll take off his armor as penance and ask forgiveness for his wrongs. If His Majesty still refuses an audience, he’ll go kneel in front of the late emperor’s temple/mausoleum instead. The messenger goes to deliver his words while Chu Xifeng and General Baili both tell LFY not to take off his armor so easily. But Long Feiye is adamant—this is the only way the emperor will deign to see him, and he has words to say to Emperor Tianhui face-to-face. Badum tss.
Chu Xifeng remarks that he can’t stand seeing His Highness Duke of Qin being humiliated all the time, but General Baili simply remarks that their actions are a double edged sword—it’ll force the emperor to yield their way, “just wait and see.” As expected, Emperor Tianhui realizes that Long Feiye’s actions is a literal slap to his face—why does a triumphant general need to shed his armor and ‘ask for forgiveness’ at all? Thus, Long Feiye successfully gets himself summoned into the hall.
It’s probably less hot without these bulky things on, anyways.
See? They look much cooler. Figuratively and literally. (uwu)
Anyways, Long Feiye says his piece: mainly how grain isn’t getting to the victims of war like it should thanks to a few certain greedy officials, only in a very roundabout way. The official in question attempts to slander the Duke of Qin for slandering him, but it backfires spectacularly. In the end, the imperial uncle, crown prince, and Emperor Tianhui all turn a blind eye as the man is dragged out for execution. Emperor Tianhui and Long Feiye conclude by playing nice with each other, but their eyes are shooting daggers. Lol.
Back in the empress dowager’s palace, Han Yunxi is presented with her mother’s bracelet, flooding her with memories. Han Yunxi agrees to help out the empress dowager, who tells her to act as her agent in the Duke of Qin’s estate. Han Yunxi protests and says the Duke of Qin wouldn’t be interested in her scarred face—so why not have her mother, a certified genius, treat her face first? But the empress dowager just tells her to do her job and stop trying to be so clever.
Lady Tianxin pushing her daughter on a swing. Her nose looks nothing as big as the one for her painting, I’m saying it right now.
In the end, Han Yunxi relents and leave the palace with her mother’s bracelet in tow. She and the servant girl leading her happen to run into the Duke of Qin on their way out, where she’s quickly pulled aside to bow and pay her respects…
Things we know so far:
- Gu Qishao likes Han Yunxi and has already helped her twice (first with the scar, second with Long Feiye)
- Gu Qishao is also affiliated with Northern Li and has his own agenda
- Emperor Tianhui and Crown Prince Long Tianmo are doing some freaky experiments with Poison Gu humans
- Long Feiye is investigating them both and may have connections with the experiments himself
- Han Yunxi’s dad poisoned her face for reasons unknown, and her mom is presumed dead, possibly missing
- The Empress Dowager claims to know where HYX’s mother is and has her bracelet
I’m actually enjoying this so far, much to my surprise. Long Feiye feels even more likable in the drama than in his first few hundred chapters in the book, which is a big surprise. I’m even a little partial to Grand Concubine Yi. Hmm…interesting! Can’t wait to watch more.
Again, these recaps are taken from the iQiyi website version of the episodes. If you’re watching the rogue version loose on YouTube, be aware that they have a completely different order of scenes in some cases that don’t match the iQiyi episode preview clips at all! Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know either. :-0