Or should it be howl howl howl? The editing. Not just the real editor's hack job, which has always been howler time- quite obviously different takes all shot at different times with quite different lighting, all spliced together. Yes well, we all have our low budget 'for all its faults I love it still' faves. But HOWL at the dumb hack job of the network's, which gives us:
a) 'Admit no one. Tonight I'll spend in conversation with Master Fan' Gou Jian and Fan Li labbing and jorking together and very clearly not discussing strategy, just what've you been doing these last three years?
b) Fan Li discussing the ramifications of WZX's death with Gou Jian;
c) Impassioned Fan Li urging Gou Jian to war, and Gou Jian responding 'after bitterness comes sweetness' IOW 'I want you to be the first to know,' as he snaps the gall bladder from its string (which some tidy soul then reattaches so he can come back years later to his deserted stable and find it dried up);
d) Fan Li being excluded from Gou Jian's confidence as to the tactics he'll use in the war. 'Can't have too many people in on the secret,' says Wen Zhong. Not even your tactician, evidently.
OK, what happened there? Has psychic!Gou Jian twigged to the fact that WZX's demise has made a deep and bad impression on his main man, who suddenly realizes that honest and valued counsellors end badly, and he's not going that route? (High irony time if this were the historical Gou Jian, only he's not.) Has Wen Zhong, who doesn't gossip, repeated to the king what Fan Li said he'd do after the war? Unlikely. Did Gou Jian himself sense Fan Li pulling back? And if so, when? Not when Fan Li's kneeling and crying with happiness that Gou Jian's finally off to battle Wu.
I'll agree- discretion is the better part of valour, given how many spies are wandering about anyone's country: given that Yue, for instance, knew that WZX sent his family to Chi before anyone in Wu did, which defies belief. That being so, is there anything more suicidal than for Gou Jian to tell his entire army his true intentions in Wu, just because that ill-omened stormcrow Shi Mai comes telling him not to go and support Wu in its battles? (The subtitles say 'root for', possibly the only humourous note in the whole thing.)
Back-tracking to WZX's grandstand exit, note how his encomium of large-handed and magnanimous Helu doesn't mention that Helu hired WZX to secure his father's death and throne for him. Annoys my western instincts that WZX's version of WZX is never overtly questioned within the series. Everyone seems to accept the 'loyal servant of the state' line, including those who hate him; and no one ever asks the question that seems obvious to my culture: can a man who does such evil deeds be considered good in any way? (Why didn't Plato try defining the nature of the good in China? Probably wouldn't have helped: he'd have done it in Chinese and his concepts would remain as unapproachable to me as Confucius' do. 'Benevolence'. Cool. Now tell me what 'benevolence' means in the context of Spring and Autumn society. Include examples if you can find any.)
In a case of unbenevolence, what's with the dork in the Yue camp saying 'Kill Yue's Daji!'? His reasoning escapes me completely. What'd she ever do to him?
Ya Yu. Oh, Ya Yu, and her last conversation with Gou Jian. When I get all my disks back I'll go through with Chinese subtitles on, for all that tells me. Is there some nuance to Gou Jian's 'I've treated you shabbily' that isn't there in the English? Is he saying 'I've been cruel keeping you alive all these years when I know you want to die'? Does 'I'll be waiting for you' in Chinese conveys a completely different sense than it does in English, where the 'alive' part is understood? I mean, I kind of thought her 'Come back soon' might be carrying a hint of 'so I can die happy at last' to it. But why didn't she wait for him to come back?
IOW, how *could* she have done it then? Looks almost like revenge to me.
Possibly subtitle grernch, but it seems to me that Gou Jian in his interview with Bo Pi never acknowledges one major point: Fu Chai let him live. I can see why that takes back seat to 'and he killed my son and raped my wife', but if we're talking Fu Chai's wylfenne geþoht/ 仇恨, explain why you're still alive.
The surrender scene OTOH scratches many many itches. For one thing, Hu Jun finally moves with as much grace as Uncle Ming. And since he can, in heaven's name why didn't he do it before? Damn, still want a Woxin in which both protagonists have that silken touch and panther grace, and make it quite clear that they fight and enslave each other only because they're not allowed to screw.