Yeah, so this happened. I saw a clip on Facebook, decided that perhaps trying out this cute-looking period drama wouldn’t hurt, and promptly destroyed my life.
This is not a cute drama. Not at all. It rips your soul to shreds, is what this little monster does.
After absorbing the fifty-four episodes in just a couple weeks, I’m now suffering from withdrawal, so now I’m writing down my feelings to get over myself. Watching this drama was a poor life decision.
So, yeah, let’s begin. This will honestly just be a long-winded ramble about my feelings. Feel free to skip.
A Basic Summary
Feng Xin Er’s family is pretty brutally murdered. Through a series of complicated events, she sneaks into the household of her family’s murderers and proceeds to irritate the hell out of them. Once that’s accomplished, she moves on to help her dear Tuoba Jun kick his uncles’ asses so that he can ascend the throne and save the kingdom from having a disgusting and calculating dick as their emperor.
Characters That I Deem Important Enough to Mention
Li Wei Young / Feng Xin Er. A magical human being, introduced to us dressed as an unconvincing man. She loses just about everything by the time the drama is over. It’s something of a miracle that she hasn’t gone on a rampaging murder spree to avenge everyone that she’s lost. Beautiful, intelligent, adorable. 10/10 would date.
Tuoba Jun. A lovestruck idiot. Like, seriously. His entire life revolves around Li Wei Young after he meets her. He’s one of the people who’s fighting for the throne, though he really doesn’t take it seriously until he realizes that his uncle, who’s also fighting for the throne, is a despicable human being.
Li Chang Le. A vicious, petty, jealous girl with eyebrows that, for some unfathomable reason, flick up at the end. An amazing antagonist. Originally seemed not entirely Chinese, then the discovery was made that the actress is a quarter Russian. Makes sense.
Tuoba Yu. A fucking bastard. Prime example of Jerk, a rare species only found stuck up pretentious fuckers’ assholes. The product of an awful, awful design decision, with the unfortunate implication that cornrows are equivalent to evil. Why does a Chinese man from the historical period have cornrows, you may ask? Who the fuck knows. It was a dumbass idea to take a hairstyle from black people and hand it over to an ancient Chinese dude.
Li Chang Ru. A ruthless monster. Not as bad as Tuoba Yu, but very close. Also an amazing antagonist. She would generally be considered an awful human being by most decent people.
Chiyun Rou. A lady whose goal in life is to grab as much power for her family as humanly possible. Human lives are mere fleas in her way. She’s one of those ladies that just seems to transcend the act of taking shits. Has one of those Evil Stepmother voices.
- Literally my first thought upon seeing this drama was, “Holy shit.” Because, everything was honestly gorgeous. The colors were edited so beautifully in a way that didn’t desaturate everything (which appears to be an unfortunate trend in gifsets these days). I just wanted to crawl through the screen and steal everything, it was so pretty. So many colors. My eyes were incredibly excited to be used to their full potential.
- It gave me feelings. Every time the world dumped more disgustingness over Li Wei Young, it was like a knife was stabbed into my heart. Every time one of the antagonists did something cunning enough to hurt Li Wei Young, I wanted to poke them. Viciously. Every time Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun had a cute moment together, I was grinning like a lunatic. There were so many feelings.
- There was a lot of emphasis placed on what a good relationship should be. For example, a big no-no is attempting to completely destroy your unrequited crush both emotionally and physically just because “What I can’t have, I won’t let anyone have.” That’s a big no. Another big no-no is assuming that obsession is love. A generally useful trick to differentiate between obsession and love is, if you’re willing to stab your crush’s mother in order to get him, you’re probably obsessed.
- Hugs between Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun, once they actually got their relationship going. They’re both adorable human beings who poke each other’s noses and pinch each other’s cheeks and hug each other. I love hugs. Hugs are nice. Hugs are the best displays of affection, in my opinion, though I’m pretty sure that, back in the day, it was the equivalent of sex. Not sure if it’s historically accurate to let them hug each other, but who cares. It gave me warm fuzzies inside.
- Bai Zhi. She was honestly the cutest character ever, with her dopey little smiles and her playful teasing and her wailing sobs, just. Bai Zhi. I love you. I want to marry you. Thank you for bringing your light and general awesomeness into the drama. I wanted to fucking rip Li Chang Ru apart for murdering my favorite character, but thankfully, I restrained myself. It’s not as though Li Chang Ru doesn’t actually exist or anything, of course.
- Jun Tao. My second favorite character! Who also happens to return from the dead, like, eleventeen times. Pierced right through with a sword? No problem, just toss her into the river and she’ll waltz out a few months later as good as new.
- Li Wei Young’s little monologue in jail, when she was furiously telling Tuoba Jun exactly what she wanted from him. “No evidence, no witnesses. Just trust me for the person I am.” That delivery, though. Perfect. Beautiful.
- Tang Yan (Li Wei Young) and Luo Jin (Tuoba Jun) are actually dating in real life. It sort of makes you stop and consider all the little moments you see in the show, and how much of it is actually acted.
- I love how hateful the villains are. I hate them and love them at the same time. I love hating them.
- The two leads are honestly the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Though, if I’m being entirely honest, the first time I saw Luo Jin with short hair, I nearly had a heart attack. It was a scarring experience. It looked like he was missing a limb. That was how jarring his short hair was. But I’ve gotten used to it. He’s good-looking. And we’ve already established that I would date Li Wei Young, if I were a few years older.
- The way Tuoba Jun peeled the tangerine for his dead mother was really cool. It was very mesmerizing.
- Watching Li Wei Young and her trusted friends slowly hack away at the people who killed her family is a good brain workout, especially if you’re generally bad at remembering stuff like I am. They’re so intelligent. I’m so unintelligent. I had to stop and think for a good five minutes at one point to wrap my brain around the enormity of what just happened. It’s very good exercise.
- The entire episode where Li Wei Young took care of the sick and injured Tuoba Jun, much to the chagrin of Li Chang Le and Tuoba Jun’s mother, who hated Wei Young. And then because Wei Young is such a lovely person, his mother was slowly won over! And Li Wei Young gave his mother a piggyback ride! It was so cute.
- The actors were filming in freezing weather for some episodes. It was cold enough that every time they spoke, the white puffs of condensation came out of their mouths. I can’t even begin to imagine how frozen their faces were, wow.
- The personalized lantern date. Oh, my heart.
- After everything that happened, the ending was an amazing ending. Even though my heart was like, “FCKU NO, I DARE YOU TO TOUCH TUOBA JUN, YOU BASTARDS,” my head was like, “This ending fits. It’s depressing as hell, but it fits. If they’d made it happy, I wouldn’t be going through this emotional torment right now, but hey, my emotions come second to a good ending.”
- Everyone really knows how to cry. That’s not to say everyone was a great actor/actress because there were some god-awful moments (only a few, but they were still pretty bad), but every time someone cried, especially Tang Yan and Luo Jin, it felt real. Which really makes you consider the questions… Do they cry every single take? How do their faces not get puffy? How many takes do they do of each scene? Who knows.
- Speaking of crying, I appreciate the existence of ugly crying in this drama. Generally when you’re upset to the ends of the world and back, you cry and you don’t look pretty doing it. Especially when Li Wei Young is silently listening to Tuoba Jun’s physician tell him his time is up… That was the most beautiful ugly sobbing I’ve ever seen in my life.
- I loved the concept of the plot. Revenge is amazing material to work with.
- All the actors/actresses are so hilarious. I watched the behind-the-scenes, aghast at how they could be so silly in between filming scenes that left me agonizing with worry. Like, how dare they have fun while I’m wallowing in misery. No, just joking, but the actors/actresses are amazing people. They know when to be sad and when to be happy.
- Honestly, amazingly intelligent leading women were the highlight for me. Watching Li Chang Ru, Li Chang Le, and Chiyun Rou take turns stabbing at Wei Young using their mental prowess gave me so much glee, because they’re all so smart. Thank the heavens. If the drama had made any of them stupid in order for us to hate them more, I would have thrown my laptop down a cliff.
- I love how after Wei Young’s revenge plot was pretty much carried out, they shift the attention over to the battle for the throne. It gives the show a continuous sense of purpose.
- Tuoba Jun’s insanity bit. So well acted.
- ALSO. ALSO ALSO ALSO ALSO. I have to mention how amazing it was that Tuoba Di, the young princess of Great Wei, despite her jealousy for Li Wei Young, took care of her anyway because that’s what Li Min De wanted her to do. There is nothing worse than watching people attempt to murder their crush’s crush out of jealousy (ahem, Chang Ru, Chang Le, you fucking dicks). So let this be a lesson to you, kids. If you like a crush, and they don’t like you, and then you attempt to murder their crush, and they still don’t like you, don’t be surprised. You’re an embarrassment to humanity.
- I can’t forgive those fucking cornrows. What an awful case of cultural appropriation. It very nearly ruined the drama for me at the beginning, especially since I’m well aware of the general distaste Chinese people have for black people. It really makes me uncomfortable to think that the hairstyle black people wear was put on an evil character to make him look “more evil.” Despicable. Whoever made the decision ought to slap themselves.
- The motivations behind the villainous females made me angry. The only vaguely acceptable one was Chiyun Rou, who wanted her daughter to become empress, and so she wanted Li Wei Young out of the way. But everyone else did what they did with the sole purpose of getting a man. Even though Chang Le wanted to become empress, that was very clearly unimportant compared to getting Tuoba Jun, considering the fact that she completely forgets about empress by the end of the drama. Chang Ru wants Tuoba Yu, and only Tuoba Yu, and she will murder you if you get in her way. Hong Luo, the Chiyun family’s killer warrior, only did what she did because of General Chiyun Nan. I’m serious when I say there’s nothing wrong with having a character who only wants a partner, but when almost all your major female villains are like that… Yikes. This makes me especially sad because these are such good female villains.
- There is a lot of male saving female action going on, but this didn’t bother me as much as it usually would. There’s no need to have a lady be good at fighting, as long as you give her other attributes. Not to mention Li Wei Young saves Tuoba Jun a couple of times.
- That romance between Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun was kinda cheesy at the beginning. And by kinda, I mean very. As in, I was cringing so hard my face broke. It was that typical “girl loves butterflies” and “man falls in love nearly immediately” and “let’s give our wedding vows now!” sort of thing. I never understood exactly what they liked about each other, just that they did, for some odd reason. But never fear! Later on, they start taking care of each other so well that you can’t help but accept the fact that, clearly, they’re in love with each other. And that it’s very sweet.
- Are people in this time period blind or something? Do girls suddenly look like guys if they dress up in guys’ clothing? They’re still wearing a full face of makeup, for fuck’s sake!
- Can someone tell me how, if someone has their guts spilling onto the floor from a sword wound, they can possibly live? This was back when medicine wasn’t exactly the best, right? If doctors today would likely be unable to heal the wound, HOW THE FUCK CAN THEY??
- This is my first Chinese period drama, and, apparently, people can fly. This isn’t so much an actual con point as a serious declaration of my confusion.
- The plot, while I really enjoyed the concept, was a little slow-going. This was partially because Li Wei Young never actually took the initiative until things were going drastically badly for her. She just sort of stood there and defended against the accusations Chiyun Rou threw at her, waiting patiently for the day Chiyun Rou stupidly made the decision to poison herself to frame Wei Young.
- The show kinda…leaps straight into relationships without any basis. I mean, once the relationship is happily rolling, then it’s honestly amazing, but it seriously throws you off when two strangers suddenly excitedly declare themselves sisters for life. Like. What.
- Li Wei Young and Tuoba Jun found the evidence for Tuoba Yu’s involvement the original Crown Prince’s death really easily. But this can be forgiven because then the world decides to throw a temper tantrum and stomp them into the ground.
- The whole time Tuoba Jun is tormenting Li Wei Young by pretending he doesn’t love her… Would it have killed him to tell her secretly so that she didn’t have to feel his loss so strongly? Like, I know he wanted to convince the people around him he didn’t love her, but why would he do that to her. I mean. What an idiot.
- This show is stupid. For breaking my heart entirely and then scattering the remains. Hmph.
General Conclusion, Random Statements, Etc.
Tuoba Yu is the creepiest fucker I’ve ever seen displayed on television. Not only does he ask Wei Young to thank him for not sexually assaulting her (yeah, wow, such an accomplishment, you power-hungry swine), but he dares to hurt Tuoba Jun.
(Watching Tuoba Jun go insane was simultaneously one of the worst and best parts of the show. That was amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking.)
I can’t believe the show had the guts to use that ending. What a ballsy move.
Seriously, Li Wei Young lost nearly everything. I think by the end of the show, she only had Jun Tao left from her loved ones. Oh, and Li Min De, but I wasn’t overly fond of him or his weird little side plot. When she lost Bai Zhi, I broke down crying, because watching Li Wei Young sit there in misery was heartbreaking. When she lost Tuoba Jun, I lost all feeling in my body.
This show was good. It was really good. Despite the fact that if I had to rate it then I would only give it a 7.87/10, I still absolutely adored watching this. Something about it is so incredibly charming, though I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is.
Just. I enjoyed this, despite all its flaws.
Okay, I feel better now. 2500 words later, haha.