Princess Weiyoung 锦绣未央 came and conquered with the indomitable force of a ratings champion. It is not the female equivalent to Nirvana in Fire but it brings a nice mix of revenge, melodrama, politics and romance that is a crowning glory on its own.
I blew through twenty over episodes in a matter of days engrossed with the story and fascinated by the characters. Lest I finish another episode before writing this post, let’s get on with the recap.
Episode 1 begins with the birth of a princess on a day when the skies clear after three days of snow. The King of Liang (Tan Kai) takes her into his arms while grandma (Liu Xue Hua) bestows her with a priceless jade pendant. A monk counsels that the princess is precious beyond compare but whether it is good or bad remains to be seen because even the phoenix must die in order to be reborn.
At the same moment, the Wei army arrives at their doorstep, forcing the King to bid his mother farewell as he chooses to pledge allegiance to Wei for the sake of the people.
Years later, Princess Li Xin (Tiffany Tang Yan) is a young lady who sneaks out dressed as a boy with her bodyguard Jun Tao (Wang Yan Zhi) in tow. Jun Tao comments at the unusual number of soldiers making the rounds that must be because of King’s impending return. It elicits a word of caution from Li Xin who warns against addressing her father as king because it will simply get him in trouble as a result.
After all, her father is a guest of Wei in name only since he is actually their hostage in reality. Hence, Li Xin is determined to cheer up her family on this rare occasion that they will be reunited.
Elsewhere, Chi Yun Rou (Tian Li) and her daughter (Li Xin Ai) discuss an elaborate conspiracy after their relative, Chi Yun Nan (Jin Han), discovers an iron mine that can provide plentiful supply for their clan to build an entire amy. In order to gain jurisdiction over the area, they must incite a fake rebellion by the Liang and use it as an excuse to obliterate the nation.
The plan seems to have started as a man is shown killing the owner of a lantern shop. Li Xin and Jun Tao come to collect their lanterns oblivious to what happened.
In a flurry to retrieve some of the lanterns that few away, Li Xin crosses paths with Tuo Ba Jun (Luo Jin) who helps her down as he grabs her by the waist with one hand and grabs a lantern with another.
To his surprise, Li Xin hits him instead, which leads him to assume that she might actually be a girl. He reaches out towards Li Xin which causes Jun Tao to run charging in full force, sword unsheathed and ready to attack.
With a hilariously bewildered look on his face, Tuo Ba Jun muses, “Why are people here so strange? I saved you. You don’t thank me. You hit me and you even find an accomplice.” Li Xin interjects that she never needed his help and the two vow never to see each other again.
Back in the palace, Li Xin meets her father after years of separation and the whole family share a warm embrace. The festivities begin and Li Xin takes grandma outside for her birthday gift, a spectacular show of lanterns scattered across the sky and even the king and the officials join in to appreciate the view.
Chi Yun Nan uses the opportunity to send the signal for his men to attack. They shoot down the lanterns to set the place on fire and they even had men pretending to be Liang soldiers as they chant, “Release the king, return Liang Kingdom.”
Li Min Feng (Nan Fu Long) points his sword at the King and accuses him of rebellion while Chi Yun Nan orders his men to kill all of the Liang people.
Li Xin witnesses her father killed before her eyes as she crouches behind a door only a few feet behind. She then witnesses the murder of her grandmother and the subsequent losses of Jun Tao and Jun Tao’s father. Left all alone, Li Xin stumbles down a hill.
Meanwhile, a Wei official writes down the truth behind the killings and stashes it just before he became yet another casualty of Chi Yun Nan and his men.
Because of the recent events, refugees from Liang have been heading to Wei in droves but Tuo Ba Yu (Vanness Wu) refuses to let anyone in and even threatens to have everyone shot by arrows. Sympathizing with the people, Tuo Ba Jun implores with his uncle to open the borders and when talks turn into a deadly standoff, he seizes the military badge from Tuo Ba Yu hand and gains command, thus allowing the people safe passage into Wei.
First Impressions: And that is how you push a princess towards a path of vengeance, by ripping apart everything and everyone that she holds close to her heart. The process is swift and brutal, a fitting start to a long running revenge. You may wonder whether the young princess is up for the task, after all, she is the damsel in distress that needed saving for most of the episode (and the next many episodes) and yet she always escapes, in spite of being literally within enemy’s grasps.
If you really think about it, a lot of the developments are hard to believe and written to get the story moving forward but the nuances hardly matter in the thick of a plot that is gripping, captivating and apparently, not without a sense of humor if you caught that brief but cute interaction between Tang Yan and Luo Jin. I absolutely love how fast everything is progressing and all the pretty contributes to why you should watch the show.
The ending, although short, is a telling preview of what is soon to come, a righteous Tuo Ba Jun versus a ruthless Tuo Ba Yu though the main attraction is obviously Li Xin’s journey to becoming Princess Weiyoung. I’m at episode 30 as of writing this post coz I simply couldn’t resist…:)
For an in-depth analysis of subsequent episodes, check out mydramatea.