How did they manage to get the Ya Yu m-f so very right and all the other m-f plots so very very wrong? I don't mind Zheng Dan being so dweeby (and ultimately changeable) because she probably was, but the Xi Shi plot- not merely Xi Shi herself- is so- so- sap romance argh. Possibly it's just a case of Not For You, because didn't the Chinese fen think WZX's grandstand death scene (Now! with extra lightning bolts!) was the poodle's knickers?
Still. This is Not How You Do Romance, guy.
Erm well yes, Fan Li can be snotty about 'the old guard is forming factions behind your back and you didn't even notice!' to Wen Zhong, but the old guard itself is saying 'Ku Cheng can lead soldiers out to guard the king and you didn't even notice!' to Ye Yong, nominally in charge of the army, who feebly protests that Wen Zhong got in before him. Sounds to me like Wen Zhong's doing OK at his job. Of course it's not-so-perspicacious Fan Li who's up for the chop by the plainly Certifiably Dumb native Yueites. What on earth did they think they were doing? 'Fan Li, it's all your fault the king became a slave in Wu! He should have refused to surrender and been killed by Fu Chai and our country totally subsumed into Wu.' Really? Or are we only having this scene so we can parallel the previous Sitting On Our Butts Arc in Wu, and then do a further parallel between the captious courtiers who give the king a relapse and the simple-hearted common people who bring him out of hiding.
(30 eps later and I *still* have no notion what the hell Shimai thinks he's doing. How I do not like that man, either as a man or as a character.)
Actually I quite understand why Gou Jian moves into that stable. My own memories are location-specific: I have to be in the place to remember what happened there with any kind of vividness. So if he doesn't want to forget about Wu in the daily minute business of dealing with depleted Yue, he has to be in a place that feels like Wu. Also where else can he operate from? He won't go back to his own palace that reeks of defeat, and the queen's palace is where he went to hide and, I would think, suffer the psychological bends of returning to Yue. (He looks physically much older when he comes out of it than he was when he went in.) But it's not a place he can act from: in his mind I imagine it belongs to the stasis and paralysis of recuperation. Moving his space is like getting up and sitting in a chair when you've been sick in bed for a long time: the psychological assertion that you're recovering is necessary for the actual recovery. And he is recovering, because next thing you know, off he goes to deal with Zhu Ji Ying.
I think that scene is probably our tip-off that Gou Jian is not doing saint of any kind, he's just learned how reality works and has changed his tactics to meet the present situation. Cause this is a straight reprise of the seduction of Ling Gu Fu, done better because Gou Jian is now older and cannier. But oh, that's still the hand of the master at work.
There's some really interesting stuff going on under the surface in 32, and it's all Ya Yu and Gou Jian gone badly out of synch. She won't join him in the stable- she didn't even know he'd moved there (taking the flowers with him.) We know she knows that he intends to be revenged on Wu, but just at this moment she doesn't seem to be registering the steps needed to get there. Or maybe she can't, when one of the steps involves putting Xi Shi through what she herself experienced with the Jin ambassador. Didn't mind sending Zheng Dan off to a life of prostitution though. Is it the thought of separating her and Fan Li that hurts? at the same moment she separates herself from her husband, in what she does, for the first time ever? 'We can't be together but they can?' (And love again for chivalrous Wen Zhong ready to take all responsibility.) Or is it that she simply can't bear to be one of those who acts unrighteously when what she lives for is to see right triumph?
Ya Yu has had to bear the unbearable once too often and now we see it taking its toll. Which is why the fast death both Fu Chai and Wongsun get is not nearly fast enough for me.
(Yanno, I can see the changes in Gou Jian just from my icons. The guy in the cangue is not the guy who seduces Zhu Ji Ying. Damn but Uncle Ming is one fine actor.)