Chinese Paladin 3: Episodes 15&16

Episode 15

In the fiery palace of eternal hell, the queen of the underworld extends her long and elegant finger to retrieve the smoldering Fire Pearl from the flame. Eying the delicate treasure with pleasure, Huo Gui Wang tosses her head back and lets out a long, self-satisfied laugh — this unremarkable sphere is the saintly object, whose power dutifully preserved her beauty for thousands of years.

The intrusion of a messenger puts an end to her self-admiration (thank goodness). Meet XiFeng, ChongLou’s personal messenger. He has come with the news that The Lord of the Demons will be arriving at the underworld shortly. ChongLou intends to take over the underworld during his stay. Huo Gui Wang’s job is to do nothing but to detain the two men on the scroll provided by XiFeng (Jin Tian and ChangQing) if she were to see them trespassing.

During the days that the bunch travel west toward the underworld, XueJian continues to ignore both Jin Tian and ChangQing. Ignoring Jin Tian because she’s still angry at him for choosing her to die. But what did a clueless ChangQing do to cross her? He did nothing and it’s precisely this inaction that frustrates her. Having overheard ChangQing’s past life time’s romantic entanglement with ZiXuan, XueJian inadvertently sided with the woeful ZiXuan. The aloofness she displays now is her way of protesting against the outcome of this 200-year-old romance. (But my dear, it’s not his fault that his memory’s sealed.)

The bits and pieces that escape from XueJian’s pointed remarks reveal a knowledge of the secret she isn’t allowed in on. To prevent her from blurting out what should be safely guarded, Jin Tian pulls her aside and makes her promise never to divulge. She refuses point blank and when he insists, she waywardly lashes out at him for the suppressed anger she’s been enduring since the unhappy encounter in the fox cave.

Jin Tian may dismiss XueJian’s tantrum as a rich girl’s “thing”, LongKui is less tolerant of any gesture that may hurt her brother. She turns red and directs the Demon Sword to destroy XueJian. Jin Tian walks in to save XueJian and the two of them end up being carried away by the sword.

Time to move ahead!

(Ain’t MaoMao cute?)

Following red LongKui’s accident, ChangQing takes MaoMao and LongKui (blue now) to find Jin Tian and XueJian. Unfortunately, MaoMao, who is still afraid of heights, accidentally falls from the flying sword. Although ChangQing ends up saving MaoMao, the cute sidekick has fainted from the trauma and requires an overnight stay at this prosperous city called ChangAn. By the looks of it, MaoMao will sleep his way through their brief stay at ChangAn, his dream city, and wake up to regret it.

Incidentally, after a long flight with the Demon Sword, XueJian and Jin Tian crash down on a roll of coffins in FengDu — the very destination they were to retrieve the Fire Pearl. FengDu is covered in mourning, nothing like the booming city of ChangAn.

After making contact with ChangQing through the all purpose walkie-talkie, Jin Tian is warned to be extra careful in FengDu.

Because FengDu is the intersection between the mortal realm and hell. When night befalls, the street is littered with ghosts, demons, and spirits. “Don’t talk to anyone at night”, he has been forewarned.

Despite their fears, the two flounce off to a weapon shop. They paid much and load up on useless equipments (when the Demon Sword alone could take care of any impending danger against minions).

On their way out of the weapon shop, they stumble upon a local lowlife called Zhao WuYan. He is an ostentatious liar and a Lothario with the possession of a pass to the underworld. While mortals who are crazy or foolish enough to want to enter the underworld will be teared into threads by the loitering spirits/ghosts/demons, Zhao WuYan, under the protection of this pass, is able to travel both realms with ease.

Seeing that Jin Tian and XueJian are newcomers, the greed-driven Zhao WuYan deceives them into buying a potion (an ordinary pot of tea) that’s said to have similar protective effects as his pass. They believe him and spend a fortune on the worthless pot of tea. But the liar wouldn’t go away just yet. He hangs around, drooling over XueJian. Alarmed, Jin Tian thrusts himself between the lustful liar and XuanJian to protect her. And when the liar doesn’t seem to want to let go, Jin Tian resorts to clumsy deception and claims XueJian to be his newly wed wife.

But Zhao WuYan sees through the guise and follows them to the tavern where they’re lodging, ready to strike and pluck the flower that is XueJian. Fortunately, Jin Tian spots Zhao WuYan and confronts him, wanting his money back (for the pot of ordinary tea). Zhao WuYan observes shrewdly that if the two travelers are newly weds, they wouldn’t be staying in two different rooms. With that, Jin Tian turns and apologizes to XueJian for his wrongdoing and begs her to let him into bed tonight. Then, swiftly, he drags her into the room and shuts the door on Zhao WuYan’s face. She’ll at least be safe with him.

Once Zhao WuYan is gone, Jin Tian tosses a bag onto the table. In the bag are the pass and a lot of money that belonged to Zhao WuYan. Recall that the Monkey Spirit was a famous thief’s pet. When he passed on his skill to Jin Tian, Jin Tian inherited the fast hands and stole the money bag from Zhao WuYan. Quite satisfying.

Now the problem at hand is, Jin Tian and XueJian aren’t really married and there is only one bed in the room. So the bed… is on a first come first serve basis! Of course Jin Tian gets on it first and no matter how XueJian tries to drag him off, he won’t budge. Finally, irked by his lack of consideration for her (– even if he had yielded the bed to her, she would’ve refused, boasting that a heroine like her can do without sleeping on bed for one night and when he claims the bed, she would’ve gotten angry anyway –) she climbs onto bed and lies next to him! Now this time, Jin Tian surprises and rolls off the bed at once, cursing under his breath and sits next to the table. Before long, he drifts  into sleep leaning on the table.

XueJian on the contrary is hit by a sudden wave of insomnia. She tosses and turns in bed but cannot fall asleep. Finally, she gets up and comes to the table where Jin Tian is soundlessly asleep. Sitting down opposite of Jin Tian, she rests her head on her elbow and starts to study him in his sleep. Oh cuteness!

Jin Tian wakes up upon XueJian poking his nose. This startles XueJian and as she stutters to explain her behavior, Jin Tian lungs for the bed. When he landed, he is squarely on top of XueJian, who guessed his intent and jumped at the same moment. They exchange a pregnant beat gazing at each other in the awkward position. Then it’s XueJian who pushes him off first.

Jin Tian returns to his table after cocking his neck at the contact; XueJian returns to bed, still giddy from the moment of intimacy.

Soon, XueJian falls asleep but now it’s Jin Tian who’s awake.

A little later, ZiXuan floats by (literally floating) and begs to stay the night at the tavern. Ma Shen guesses that ZiXuan is a goddess and welcomes her. ZiXuan asks for writing utensils and requests for a special ink called thousand ink. This type of ink does not wash away with water and the mark stays forever.

As Ma Shen prepares the paper, pen, and ink, Jin Tian hears the noises and opens his door to peek. When he learns the wonders of the ink, an idea spurs. He bribes the tavern owner with a nice piece of jade and agrees to bring the writing utensils to the guest who requested it. Closing the door behind him, he approaches XueJian…

… and draws a pig on her back. Heh!

It is later revealed that ZiXuan foresees that ChangQing will encounter danger in the underworld and has broken her promise with ShengGu once more to help ChangQing. Aye, if she weren’t so loaded with angst and a little more decisive, I would’ve liked her much more.

What happens next comes rather abruptly. At midnight, the door between mortal realm and the underworld opens. The guards from the underworld ascend to the city of FengDu and start to search for the two men on the scroll. They catch Jin Tian and brings him to ChongLou.

This time, Jin Tian is unafraid of the Demon Lord, he strikes first.

After a few blows are exchanged, it becomes apparent that this Jin Tian before ChongLou is ZiXuan in disguise. She has come to beg ChongLou to spare ChangQing. This begging only makes ChongLou despise ChangQing even more — what kind of sissy needs a woman’s protection? On the other hand, ZiXuan’s repeated attempts to intervene opens ChongLou up to the courage this woman possesses within. (If only she weren’t so full of teenage angst. *Sigh*)

The real Jin Tian, drugged by ZiXuan to keep him safe is awakened by Qing Wei, who instructs him to save ZiXuan. Qing Wei teaches Jin Tian an enchantment; the enchantment in combination with the Demon Sword will temporarily enable him to fend against ChongLou. But the drawback is, the enchantment can only be activated when the spell is muttered three times — it takes time to administer the spell — and that the effect will last only seven days.

Episode 16

Before waking Jin Tian up from the dream, Qing Wei hands him an exquisite magical tool. Since ZiXuan has cast a spell on him to make him invisible, only those in possession of the magical tool will be able to see him. Holding the tool in hand, Jin Tian decides to trick XueJian before departing to the underworld.

He wakes her up via slapping her around, benignly, and when she’s sure an invisible ghost is taunting her, he tosses her the tool. When she gets use to him being invisible, he hands her the pass to the underworld (he doesn’t need it while he’s invisible) and drags her to the entrance of hell.

The door opens and the two enter with care — little do they know, the adventure ahead will be ladened with cheap, sporadic laughingstock.

They come upon the guard and are denied entry. Why? Well, the cross-eyed guard sees one pass and two XueJian and naturally demands for a second pass. Where are they going to produce a second pass? Luckily, the second, non-cross-eyed guard steps in and lets the two enter. *Phew* They’re in. But which way to go?

Down it is. The two of them fall for a long time and when XueJian finally lands, she looks around, utterly disoriented. WHERE is Jin Tian? Is she going to traverse the underworld all ALONE? Worriedly, she calls out for him. (He’s invisible, silly!) Suddenly remembering the magic token in hand, she presses it to her eyes and sees Jin Tian, lying in front of her with his head twisted to the side. She pushes him, yells his name but evokes no response. “Jin Tian! Jin Tian! Don’t die on me! Please don’t die!” near tears now, she tugs at him hopelessly. Then the body twitches and up rises Jin Tian, unharmed. He teases her for her reaction and before she can bicker back, he is well ahead of her.

And talking to a ghost.

Since the ghost can’t see Jin Tian, XueJian waltzes in and pretends to be the one asking the question. The ghost scratches his head and remarks, “Miss, you have the most peculiar voice I’ve ever heard.” (If transvestism is commonplace in the underworld, he might’ve smiled and nodded knowingly.)

The ghost tells Jin Tian and XueJian that the palace is in the direction of east but the way towards it is on the west (hell must be one big, hot, upside down dome). In order to enter the palace, they have to level up. To do that, they need dead people’s money. This encourages Jin Tian to gamble. Since he’s invisible, XueJian acts for him and they cheat!

They earn themselves a fortune in a short span but Jin Tian isn’t satisfied with the amount. (The more the better, even though he can’t use the money in the mortal realm.) He goes back for another round of gamble, dragging XueJian with him. This time when Jin Tian cheated, he is caught red handed. Ah, the one hour invisibility spell is wearing off and Jin Tian is fully visible again! What do they do? Forsake the money and RUN!

Secretly, Jin Tian grabbed a handful of cash before running. So when the two have their narrow escape, they still have some bills to challenge level one.

Level one is a large theatre. There is a stage and a room full of audiences. The goal is to make the audiences cry. XueJian is forced to act but twice she tried, twice she’s booed. At this moment, Zhao WuYan appears (he has more than one pass in his possession and is back at the underworld). He tells Jin Tian he knows how to make these people cry. In exchange, he wants a woman. Without telling Jin Tian he wants XueJian, he tricks Jin Tian into agreeing that the first person Jin Tian hugs will be given to him when he comes to collect ‘t. Thinking the first person he’ll ever hug would be MaoMao, Jin Tian agrees. Uh-oh!

Satisfied with the terms of the negotiation, Zhao WuYan tells Jin Tian — time for a life lesson! — that people have a tendency to take things for granted. They often don’t cherish loved ones until they’ve lost them. The ghosts here are no different. They each have a loved one, whether it’s a spouse, a sibling, or a parent, in the mortal realm. Now that they are dead, no amount of regret can undo the death and restore them to their loved ones.

With Zhao WuYan’s hint, the lights dim and the music swell. XueJian starts to retell the story of her grandfather’s death…

The floating water droplets are the tears of the audience. Jin Tian and XueJian are each given a cup to store the tears.

They are then redirected to the pathway leading to the palace. The pathway is burning in hell fire, only the collected tears can extinguish the fire long enough for travlers to pass unharmed. Some bold souls have attempted to reach the palace but they haven’t been able to collect enough tears and ended up consumed by fire.

Scared by what lies before them, the two starts to bicker and accidentally, XueJian pushes Jin Tian and makes him lose grip of the cup of tears. Half of the tears are gone before they’ve even taken the first step! XueJian apologizes wildy. Jin Tian, not only didn’t blame her but encourages her to follow him.

They continue on quietly. When they are almost toward the end, the tears have all been used up. And XueJian, the weaker of the two, has fallen behind. Now a gulf of fire separates them on either side.

XueJian volunteers to use herself as a shield and help Jin Tian cross the pathway. Jin Tian rejects her idea, how is he going to let her die for him? He will become the shield. Once he dies, “please send me a lot of money. You know how much I love money. Send me a big chicken too. I love those. And, don’t let MaoMao eat it.” In a choking voice, he continues to ask XueJian to take care of his friends for him. Overwhelmed by sadness, both XueJian and Jin Tian start to cry. Their tears roll down their cheeks and fall into the gulf between them, extinguishing the hell fire. Slowly, XueJian crosses over. Jin Tian wipes his face and they embrace (oh no!).

They cross the pathway and head toward the palace, then on a second thought, Jin Tian turns and warns XueJian, “Don’t tell anyone I cried!”

When they make it to the palace, ZiXuan is panting on the ground, at ChongLou’s mercy. XueJian hurries to help ZiXuan up while a very scared Jin Tian faces ChongLou.

After taking a few blows from ChongLou (gee, they make ChongLou so simple minded here), Jin Tian falls and stalls. At this time, Master Qing Wei’s voice starts up: make him happy and recite the spell once; make him mad and recite the spell twice.

Standing up, Jin Tian resumes his confidence and hollers across, “ChongLou, I’ve been waiting to fight you for a long time. Let’s fight!” Pleased with Fei Peng’s sudden willingness to combat, ChongLou lets out a long laugh. Jin Tian mutters the spell for the first time. ChongLou charges but right when he’s inches before hitting Jin Tian, Jin Tian faints. Aha, a hilarious dirty trick! XueJian hurries over to see if Jin Tian is alright, worried that he’s suddenly died. Hearing the word “dead”, ChongLou grows angry. How can the one opponent worthy of his time die before fighting him?! Taking the opportunity, Jin Tian chants the spell a second time.

“You’re not dead?” XueJian exclaims after noticing Jin Tian’s lip movement. Fuming now, ChongLou turns and strikes, “You lied to me!” ZiXuan propels herself forward and blocks the attack. Taken aback, ChongLou wonders, “Why did you do that?” She only stares up at him, her eyes fierce with determination.

“When he’s feeling conflicted, recite the spell a third time,” starts Master Qing Wei’s voice. Jin Tian regurgitates the spell a third time and orders the Demon Sword to strike. ChongLou is hit, wounded, and carried away by his messenger and servant XiFeng.

ChongLou’s gone, but enters Huo Gui Wang, who is just as difficult to deal with, if not more. True to Chinese Paladin 3‘s lightheartedness, Huo Gui Wang immediately hits on Jin Tian. She lets them go this time but she knows, they’ll be back.

Leaving the underworld, Jin Tian gets lost. Zhao WuYan jumps out to help — he’s not there to help per se, he’s here to collect his beauty and when he can, earn a penny or two from the bunch.

Zhao WuYan may be someone looked down upon but he sure is resourceful. He directs Jin Tian et al to a wall, turns it into a door and leads them out.

Well, well, well. The rest of the story is about resuscitating ZiXuan. ChangQing and the others arrive at FengDu and is instantly bestowed with the duty to save ZiXuan. He does so with gusto but to no avail. She’s the 200 year-old goddess and he a mere mortal in his twenties. The disparity is apparent.

Even Hua Ying can only extend ZiXuan’s life by one hour. At the verge of death XueJian pushes for a full disclosure. But ZiXuan keeps her mouth sealed.

Jin Tian seeks help from the five Taoist masters. After some debate, Master Qing Wei reveals that there is only one way to save her. (Where is ShengGu when she’s needed?!)

That is, to lift the seal from ChangQing’s memory, make him remember the painful sufferings he endured during the two past lifetimes. Then use his three lifetime’s accumulated kung fu, plus the five masters’ help, they might be able to revive ZiXuan.

The masters hesitate over the decision because revealing the truth means ChangQing will likely to follow the footsteps of his past lifetimes’ mistake and he may never end up becoming a god. Jin Tian contradicts the masters’ fears. If ChangQing can’t be trusted to take responsibility for his deeds and feelings, how can he be trusted to become a god that’ll govern and regulate the six realms? If he can’t be a real man, how can he be a god? If he hasn’t tasted the bitterness of hell, how will he learn to appreciate the sweetness of heaven? Let him know the truth and it’s up to him to decide the course of his life.

Jin Tian wins in the end, the seal will be lifted.

Comments

It’s been two solid episodes and a lengthy recap. I think it’s a good time to call it a break before jumping into a set of emotional episodes as ChangQing regains his memory.

I have a lot to say about these two episodes. Where to start?

I like the way the group is split into two at the onset of episode 15. When there is five (or six if you count ZiXuan’s fleeting but sure appearances) main characters and a bunch of minor characters that comes with each city, there is a lot to keep track off. Each character’s range of activities can be very limited to avoid over-complication and the overall result is often cluttering. With the split, individual development is allowed room to flourish (case in point, Jin Tian and XueJian’s romance).

It’s rather nice to have a character like Zhao WuYan. He may be a despised lowlife, but he provides easy solutions to difficult situations without seeming contrived. His lust towards XueJian forces Jin Tian to step out and assume the role of a protector. It’s satisfying to see the chivalrous aspect of Jin Tian once in awhile to offset the general goofiness. And it’s cute to see the two progress pass their childish bickering into love land, no? 😀

very pretty! and sad

Now, I’ve mentioned twice in this recap that if ZiXuan were a little less pitiful and a little more assertive, I would like her a lot more. It’s not that I’m against her involvement with ChangQing, I want to like her, want to sympathize with her. But I can’t when she’s constantly swaying between going for her love and staying away from him. She may be helpless against her emotion but she is not without options. If XueJian were in her position, she would choose to go for it. Come what may. If it were LongKui, she would stay away if she knows her presence will threaten the happiness of her loved one. ZiXuan may purposely present the middle group but what does that mean when they do end up together (however brief)? That self-torture will be rewarded in the end?

Finally, I’m delighted to see ideas spurring into themes in these two episodes. For instance, Jin Tian made a good point at the end of episode 16, questioning whether the masters’ well intended intervention helps or impedes ChangQing’s personal growth. This reminds me of the recent drama Wo de Qing Chun Shui Zuo Zhu (我的青春谁做主), whose premise falls along the same lines: parents/masters should let go of the tight control they administer on their child/disciple. Because only then, can the child/disciple truly learn to deal with the ups and downs of life.

3 thoughts on “Chinese Paladin 3: Episodes 15&16”

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