I can also fast-forward through much of it. Possibly the first part does flow better than the second half, but only on a rewatch and largely I suspect because of all the ff-ing. Need not watch ineffective!Fu Chai, creepy!Shi Mai, doddering!king of Yue (whom I begin to hate with the glow of a thousand fiery suns), and any more of Brute 1 than I have to. That's half the cast gone there, isn't it?
(No, truly, there's almost nobody in either court that I want to see much of. *That's* why it feels so slow. Gou Jian always apart, Wen Zhong, Fan Li, and Ya Yu make the later Yue court worth watching. But now it's all wibbling courtiers and Shi Mai in the ascendant and everyone talking about the war that will inevitably come because Wu is strong and ferocious and treacherous and nasty. Last Battle Syndrome. And Wu is never fun to watch, even in the second half, though I must say the air is a touch *cleaner* with Brute 1 and Brute 2 both gone.)
It's not vast amounts of fun and it still feels like 'eat your vegetables and maybe you can have dessert'. All that saves it for me is listening for the pronouns, which is a rarefied pleasure indeed.