Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace (如懿传) is loosely based on the real life of Step-Empress Hoifa Nara (1718-1766). Her fallout with Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) is one of the greatest mysteries in Chinese history. It continues to baffle historians to this day. The fallout happened suddenly, brutally, and without prelude on one regular day during their 4th vacation trip to the south. From witness accounts of that fateful day, the Emperor and the Step-Empress were having a grand-ole-time together. There were no sign of marital trouble. But when dinner time came, she was nowhere to be found. It was only later that people discovered she was sent back to the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. Soon after, the Emperor rescinded all her privileges. While she still retained the title of Empress, she was treated like a minor concubine. When she died a year later, her funeral arrangement was that of a regular consort and not the grand ceremony for an Empress. On top of that, he never granted her son a rank, as customary for an Emperor and Empress’ adult son. And, her family line was demoted back to the Bordered Blue Banner. When the court officials protested the gross injustice, the Emperor angrily explained his harsh treatment stemmed from the Step-Empress losing her mental faculty and cutting off her hair during their vacation. And because of her degenerative mental state, he found her unfit to be the Empress of Qing Empire or to be buried next to him in the royal tomb.
In Manchurian custom, a woman cut off her hair when A) her husband died or B) her parent-in-law died. Since both were alive and kicking, her hair cutting was essentially a death curse on them. As a Manchurian royalty, she knew full well the repercussions of her blasphemous act. So the million dollar question is: Why did she cut off her hair?
Unless we can travel back in time and be the fly on their Imperial chamber wall, we will never know what actually happened in that fateful afternoon which made her publicly announced her wish for the Emperor and/or the Empress Dowager’s death. What mystified me is not her falling out of the Emperor’s favor but how the Emperor treated her afterwards. Why did the Emperor take away all her powers and privileges but keep her as the Empress, if only in name? Or why he kept her Empress title but adamantly refused to posthumously honored her and her son, which he was more than willing to do for other dead treasonous royalties? Or his attempts to obliterate the image of her from all the royal paintings?
If you don’t believe the Emperor’s BS about her cracking under the pressure of being an Empress, then RRL can offer you one possible explanation.
When people said Prague in Czech Republic is easy to get around, they weren’t kidding. Their public transit is super easy to navigate. Between the metro, the tram, and the bus, I was able to see most of the city in the 3 days that I was there.
While their transit is awesome, buying the transit ticket is not. It’s about the most frustrating thing I have ever done. We had planned to use our credit card to buy the bus ticket from the airport to the city. But the damn machine asked me for a pin which I didn’t have. When my friend tried hers, it simply refused to process. So we were forced to withdraw money from the airport ATM. After trying unsuccessfully to pay with cash for the gazillion time, we realized that the machine only accepted the exact change. It can’t be 40 kc. It has to be 32 kc. The most frustrating thing was ALL the stores refused to break the bills for us because we didn’t buy/use/exchange money at their place. Ugh. Finally, we resorted to begging our fellow travelers if they had 2 kc to spare. One European lady took pity on us and paid our tickets with her credit card. God bless her beautiful heart. Once we got to our hotel, we were exhilarated to find out that we could buy tickets directly from the concierge. With our credit cards. Yay!
The next shocker was buying water (voda). Who knew? My past experience in Italy informed me that European countries loved their carbonated water. At least way more than Americans. So we were very careful to select one that that was not bubbly, but the odds were against us. Because we were two illiterate country bumpkins. On our second try, a friendly store clerk lifted the mystery for us. Their country’s water bottles have three colors: The bubbly red. The less bubbly green. The non-bubbly blue. If you don’t like carbonated water, go for the naturale blue.
The next morning, armed with a 24-hour unlimited ticket (110 kc), we set out to explore the city.
Bloody Romance (媚者无疆) is about a pretty but dirt poor girl who was sold to a brothel but ended up becoming the leader of a government-sanctioned assassin organization. Every person she met along the way was mentally twisted. The difference was the degree: From psychopath Cha Luo who found torturing and killing to be mood enhancers, to sociopath Gong Zi aka. Prince of Ning who engineered a deadly plague to loosen his enemy’s control over a territory. To maneuver between those murderous, demented people required her blood, bones, and most importantly, her big brain.
I’m in love with Gong Zi. It’s so wrong but I can’t help that he is gorgeous! His eyes will hook your soul away.
Gong Zi is a complicated man and Wan Mei is right to fear him. If they compare who had the crappier life, Gong Zi wins it hands down. The saying goes, “You don’t miss what you never have.” Wan Mei never had anything growing up, so anything she has now is an improvement. Gong Zi, on the other hand, was a child prodigy, the invincible young prince general on the battlefield. People idolized him. Then, he overexerted himself and damaged his heart. Adding salt to injury, his own mother blinded him so he wouldn’t be a threat to the crown prince. He was cut down at his prime and tucked away in the corner of Guihua City expecting to live out the rest of his life as an invalid. Even then, enemies still wouldn’t let him be. His birth father repeatedly tried to get the crown prince (now the Emperor) to kill him.
Of course, the man does not take a beating lying down. Gong Zi spent next few years laying the ground work for his come back. He used everything and everyone to accomplish his revenge quest. Even Wan Mei, who has a special place in his heart.
In second part of Tomb of the Sea, Li Cu seems to have grown up overnight and is well on his way to become a man. Not a man child, but a real man who you can trust with your life. I thought he wasn’t strong enough to pull out Dr. Liang Wan when she got dragged into the sand by the snake tree, then he proved me me wrong by lifting her up like pulling a carrot out of the ground.
I gave him two thumbs up for how he comforted her afterwards. You can see from that woman’s face that her mind was about to shatter into pieces. Dr. Liang (aka. Wan-jie/Big sister Wan) was prepared for the hazards of desert crossing: Dehydration, heatstroke, bury alive by sandstorms. You know, the normal stuffs that kill people. She did not sign up to be eaten by a killer snake tree. Li Cu helped her cope with her mind-blowing first encounter with unbelievable creature, and he did it with such tact that I didn’t think he was capable of.
Li Cu: Go ahead and cry if you want. I want to cry myself. But ladies first.
Then again, he did learn from the best. He isn’t quite at Wu Xie’s level of dependability, his inflated ego often gets in his way, but he is steadily moving toward that direction.
Desert turns a boy into a man and a woman into a girl ~ Wu Xie
Have you heard? Zu Yi Long will be playing Wu Xie in The Lost Tomb 3 (重启之极海听雷). Him playing another main character from my fav novels, holy guacamole! I do think he’ll do well in that role too, just as he did as Shen Wei in Guardian. But right now, I am loving Qin Hao’s Wu Xie in Tomb of the Sea (沙海). His appearance may not fit the Wu Xie I pictured but he has his mannerism to the T. So far, he is the only actor who is able to bring that character to life.
Wu Xie was never a bright eyed and bushy tailed, simple-minded tag along in the “Grave Robbers’ Chronicles” series, but neither was he shrewd like his 3rd uncle or murderous like the companies they keep. In LT, he was too clever, too curious, too softhearted for his own good. In ToS, he is 10+ years older and 10+ years wiser. While he is not as calculating as his 3rd uncle, he is not far off. He has numerous dangerous adventures under his belt and the experiences have taught him to observe more and weight his words. He may seem more intimidating but he is still the same old compassionate Wu Xie inside. He is always ready to lend a hand to help others even when he knows they will just turn around and slit his throat.
Honestly, I didn’t expect Tomb of the Sea to be as good as it is. The drama surprises me by how close it matches the author’s storytelling style, which reignites my hope for the next installments of the “Grave Robbers’ Chronicles” franchise.
The first episode hits the ground running with awesome visual effect. I know they can’t keep up the movie quality CGI for all 50 episodes, so I’m glad they are using it where it counts the most. I can feel Li Cu’s adrenaline pumping as he hopelessly tries to outrun a carnivorous snake tree (vine?) appearing in the middle of a desert.
However good their visual may be, it is their content that won me over. What ToS did better than its predecessors is humor. Not the frivolous haha funny. But the morbid black comedy funny. In one scene Wu Xie smiles at Li Cu as he explains to the insolent boy, “We’ll starve to death if we don’t find more food. If you don’t want to help, that’s fine. You can be one of our food reserve”. Yum, yum, Li Cu jerky, delicious!
The first 10 episodes of Caught in the Heartbeat (青春警事) had me thinking it’s a brain-dead police drama that solve cases with kisses. However, I persevered and was rewarded with a humorous, intelligent, engaging detective drama where I could join in on the case solving with our team. Since the story is told from their perspective, I get the same clues as them, no more and no less, no earlier and no later. Which makes watching this drama whole lot of fun.
Just to note, the drama’s premise may sound similar to Memory Lost (美人为馅) in which a female cop lost her memory and a male cop was the key to getting it back. But that is where their similarity ends. ML is a romance drama trying to play cop. This drama, however, is a cop drama trying to do romance. The relationship between Tang Yixiu and Gu Jing is much more relatable. I can picture my friends behaving the same ways they do.
The scene where Gu Jing tests how Yixiu trigger her lost memory has me laughing so hard my stomach hurts. Good news is that she has narrowed it down to their heartbeats. Bad news is that she hasn’t figure out what it is about their heartbeats that trigger her memory.
One woman’s memory recall technique is another man’s workplace harassment.
This article is a rambling of a novel fan. Guardian is the only show I would ever recommend that you watch the BTS clips or fan made videos and skip the actual drama. If you must watch the show no matter what I tell you, please strictly follow this order:
1) Watch Guardian-the-drama (DG)
2) Watch fan-made vidoes
3) Read Guardian-the-novel (NG)
If you reversed the order and read the novel first… You have my condolences.
Weibo tag #diss镇魂编剧# (dissing Guardian screenwriters) shares your pain.
I survived the train wreck that was DG because of the talented meme creators/commentators on weibo’s #剧版镇魂#. Whenever DG got me down, they had me laughing like a hyena. I believe you can still find some DG memes at #镇魂沙雕表情包#.
[Update 08/07/2018: It appears Almighty-CC is doing another round of crack down on Guardian. This time is more comprehensive than the last one. I can’t find any contents from aggregated search results. And the drama is removed from the Douban listing.]
[Update 08/17/2018: The ban is lifted! Weibo tags are functioning again.]