General and I 孤芳不自赏 is the first grand production for the year and it is filled with intense developments that serve as a fitting prologue to an intriguing dynamic. I may be speaking too soon but I really enjoy the show, which has the makings of a traditional historical drama from the costumes to the sceneries to the well-choreographed sequences although who am I kidding, I’m here for Wallace Chung.
Episode 1 begins with the Jin army closing in on Yan after warring for one hundred days. Chu Mo Ran (Wei Bing Hua) is disappointed that the old master of Jing An Wang Fu didn’t join in on the fight and that the young master came to face them instead.
Chu Bei Jie (Wallace Chung) warns Mo Ran not to be careless because a tiger does not father a puppy and He Xia (Sean Sun Yizhou) is a formidable opponent who has fought many battles for Yan.
Meanwhile, Bai Pin Ting (Angelababy), a servant of Jing An Wang, arrives at the Yan camp and informs everyone that help is on the way but she asks to speak with He Xia in private.
“There are no reinforcements, are there?” assumes He Xia, which Pin Ting confirms as she relays the king’s orders to defend the city at all costs. He Xia laments that it is impossible for 8000 men to beat 100,000 but Pin Ting assures him of a plan.
He Xia opens the city gates and challenges Chu Bei Jie to a duel though it is revealed that he is working according to Pin Ting’s strategy to lure Chu Bei Jie onto the path of a waterless river and wait for nature to take its course.
As the two men duke it out and heavy rain starts pouring, Pin Ting plays the zither to set the plan in motion. Chu Bei Jie catches on too late and he watches helplessly as his men get washed away by the sudden onslaught of flood.
He Xia takes comfort at the enemy’s retreat but Pin Ting suspects that there is more than meets the eye since Chu Bei Jie would not have been given up so easily.
She also advises against He Xia’s return to the capital because she is suspicious about the king of Yan’s agenda. He Xia understands her concerns yet he has no choice but to return for the sake of his family.
Enraged at his army’s defeat, the king of Jin (Yu Bo) orders Chu Bei Jie to conquer Yan at once or face military punishment. The next scene jumps to Chu Bei Jie raising his sword directly at the king of Yan.
He Xia receives a hero’s welcome but the king of Yan threatens him with a sword and dares him to take it. He Xia remarks that it is treasonous to wield a weapon in the king’s presence but he swings it menacingly anyway before getting down on his knees.
The king urges He Xia to stay but Pin Ting comes bearing news of his mother’s sickness, which allows both of them to take their leave. Once they are out of earshot, the king immediately orders his men to take down He Xia on charges of treason though he asks that Pin Ting be captured alive.
Inside the carriage, Pin Ting admits that she made up the lie about He Xia’s mother after learning that the king has 3000 men stationed in the palace, which would have been dangerous for He Xia had he stayed.
She also sent Jing An Wang and his family to safety and told them to reconvene at Wu Lao Feng. In turn, He Xia tells Pin Ting not to worry and the two get engaged.
Chu Bei Jie spies on them from afar and it is revealed through a flashback that his unsolicited visit to the king of Yan was done to strike a deal between both countries. Chu Bei Jie urged the king to destroy Jing An Wang so that a cease fire can be achieved.
Upon realizing that the Jing An Wan may be close to escaping, Chu Bei Jie sends Mo Ran to intercept He Xia and drive them into an ambush.
He Xia and Pin Ting barely escape but they split up with Pin Ting pretending to be He Xia to buy him time. She is shot by an arrow and falls off a cliff while He Xia makes his way to Wu Lao Feng.
Jing An Wang finally meets Chu Bei Jie in the flesh and deduces that Chu Bei Jie was the culprit all along, working in cahoots with the king of Yan.
“Is it weird?” says Chu Bei Jie who explains that he had allowed Jing An Wang to escape once before because of Jing An Wang’s promise to end the war yet he reneged on his words and caused countless deaths as a result. Because of it, Chu Bei Jie has come to take back the life that he is owed.
First Impressions: I had a feeling that Angelababy would be bad (at acting) but beautiful, that Sean Sun Yizhou would be badass like in Qin’s Moon and that Wallace Chung would be my ultimate bias no matter what. I am a few episodes in and I feel the same way.
The trajectory that begins with an epic battle and concludes in tragedy typically signifies the birth of a hero except the victim in this scenario is the villain and the man behind the tragedy is the hero, which is an interesting twist to say the least.
I wondered how Chu Bei Jie was going to redeem himself after orchestrating the destruction of an honorable clan, one that the heroine fought hard to protect though I suppose it makes sense given his reasons at the end.
The first episode seems to be a precursor for greater things to come and while I can’t help but find some inconsistencies and feel that things have been over dramatized for the sake of drama, I’d gladly overlook the negatives because it was ultimately a treat to watch.
Rate your favorite Chinese dramas in 2017.