For 100 points, what did ChangQing do when he found out 1) he almost killed his masters (not one but five!) and 2) his woman in the arms of another, entwined in a kiss?
A. Wallow in sorrow
B. Drown in wine
C. Feel defiant/jaded/destructive/hurt/miserable
D. All of the above
The answer, as you’ve guessed, is D. All of the above.
What ChangQing didn’t do but probably should do is to recite 101 quotes of “inspiration” to help him struggle through the crisis at hand and maybe taking a detour to consider brand new paths for his life. Whatever the case, he isn’t alone in this. Xie Jian Xian is haunting him.
Basking in ChangQing’s fury and gaining strength every minute, Xie Jian Xian invites himself to be ChangQing’s companion. He urges ChangQing to join force with him and raid the world together. Being his benefactor, ChangQing is held in high esteem. Baffled by such a ridiculous invite, ChangQing refuses vehemently.
Xie Jian Xian is a decisive fellow. Seeing that his manipulation fails to gain ChangQing’s support to his advantage, he urges ChangQing to end his own life. This way, he’ll have one less enemy to deal with.
Desperate for deliverance, ChangQing jumps off the cliff to end his own life. (Coward!)
Perhaps it’s the traveler’s praying to the moon that gave ChangQing a second chance or maybe he is destined to survive this hardship, when night gives way to day, ChangQing awakens on a tree branch. The tree had intercepted him on his long fall, saving his life.
Returning to the bazaar, Xie Jian Xian manifests again to taunt ChangQing. This time, a freeze frame of the bazaar activity is shown to ChangQing, paired with each individual’s thoughts. Mostly negative. Disgusted and confused, ChangQing starts to question whether his two decades’ involvement in Taoism is in fact futile.
But ChangQing isn’t one to be defeated so easily. He’ll prove to Xie Jian Xian otherwise. Though reckless impulses run through each one’s head, not all act upon them and with education and good example, people will gravitate towards love and kindness in lieu of evil and greed.
So in a state of utter exasperation, ChangQing hauls people on the streets to preach moral conduct. Alas, vanity and shame stand in the way of open reception. ChangQing’s good intention is met with outrage and he, thrown into jail.
In jail, he attempts to persuade those on death roll to reconsider life and releases the inmates to give them a second chance at living. This act aggravates the government and the citizens alike. He is carted out, humiliated and tortured in public.
Xie Jian Xian observes it all with a voyeuristic malevolence. At last, when all the criminals are freed and left him with no more malice to absorb, he departs to attack Suo Yao Tower, leaving ChangQing slumped on the hay, bruised and battered.
When news of Xie Jian Xian’s planned attack reaches Mt. Shu, all the Taoists hasten their training to fend against the enemy. Even MaoMao, our beloved comic relief, picks up a stick and practices along.
From the exhaustive training, Jin Tian arrives at a plan to bring down Xie Jian Xian. He tells the Taoists to stop training and start indulging (e.g. frivolous eating and playing). To MaoMao, his job is to practice making snobby (but cute) faces at a mirror.
Xie Jian Xian is arriving in less than an hour, Master Qing Wei decides to place all trust in Jin Tian.
Oh the happy times! When Xie Jian Xian promptly arrives, it’s already nightfall and the Taoists are happily watching fireworks. Xie Jian Xian shakes his head, exclaiming the ignorance of mortals. He flies forward and sucks up all the cascading sparks of red and yellow and gazes down at the crowd. Unaffected by the vanishing fireworks, the Taoists turn to entertain themselves with other activities.
Puzzled, Xie Jian Xian flies to Suo Yao Tower and spots Fei Peng waiting for him at the summit.
Seeing Fei Peng all dressed up and oozing confidence, Xie Jian Xian is taken aback. Then MaoMao’s entrance shakes Xie Jian Xian’s confidence even more. Sitting beneath the tower, MaoMao is baking a chicken, waiting for Jin Tian to join the feast after his quick fight with Xie Jian Xian.
Not willing to risk destruction, Xie Jian Xian departs hastily, saving Mt. Shu and humanity temporarily.
Leaving Mt. Shu, Xie Jian Xian heads towards Feng Du to absorb the powers of Inferno. (A rendez-vous with the Hell Queen?)
Ever since being spotted kissing ChongLou, Zi Xuan has been looking for a chance to explain herself. But the hard part is finding ChangQing.
She searched and searched and finally zoomed in on a puddle of blood splattered by a stool. A touch of it, all the torments ChangQing endured come flooding to her.
She finds him in a jail cell and heals him. When he wakes up, he refuses to recognize their shared path. Hurt but undeterred, she returns day after day to heal him. And day after day, he rejects her offer of kindness, denying her the chance to redeem herself. At last, she announces that if his goal is to preach, then she will do so with him, no matter the consequence.
In the following days, she stays by ChangQing’s side and does what he does. Soon, the two of them are hauled to court. They are tried on account of witchcraft and are scheduled to burn on stake.
On the verge of death, there is no misstep big enough that cannot be forgiven. Zi Xuan finally finds her chance to explain and ChangQing sighs and forgives her. Soon, the smoke smothers them. Zi Xuan faints, so does ChangQing. But a big black bird flies by and snatches them both from the burning stake. It’s ChongLong coming to save Zi Xuan.
He takes them to a pond and heals them. But before they can both wake up, ChongLou departs, as lonesome as he had come — he had reached out to Zi Xuan once not long ago but she rejected him coldly. As soon as she said the hurtful words, the heart she stole from ChongLou started hurting. As it was now encased in ZiXuan’s chest, she suffered the pain she inflicted on ChongLou. What an irony. ChongLou had felt sad and perhaps confused by the contradictory emotions he felt so strongly towards ZiXuan, but he respected her wish. If she wanted him gone, he will leave quietly.
ChongLou finds Fei Peng/Jin Tian in bath and informs him of ChangQing’s whereabouts. Then he’s off for good.
ChangQing is distraught that his attempts to terminate his life all result in failure. He spots a sculpture of Buddha carved on the mountain and kneels before her to beg for a new direction. The sculpture of the Goddess instructs him — the content of which is undisclosed — he is enlightened and forsakes his prior defeatist urges to end life.
With a new goal in mind, ChangQing regains his serenity. It is at this time a messenger from Mt. Shu arrives. The Water Pearl, the last of the elemental pearls, is in Zi Xuan’s possession. She has been using it to keep their daughter Qing Er alive.
Okay, this recap has been sitting in “drafts” for weeks. I intended to watch and recap episode 30 before publishing it as a three-episode set. But-uh, it’s not gonna happen any time soon so I thought I should just go ahead and make this accessible.
The one single thing I really liked about these two episodes is the interlude between ZiXuan and ChongLou, where ChongLou’s heartbreak is physically felt by ZiXuan. It’s neat for several reasons. For one, even if her heart may never belong to ChongLou (meaning she’ll never love him), she has his heart . ChongLou’s willing surrender of his heart is probably the closest to a confession we’ll ever get, and this approach suits his character very well.
On a more subjective level, ZiXuan initiated the seduction, made ChongLou fall for her, and stole his heart (literally and metaphorically). It’s only right that she shares the consequence of her action (i.e. feel the pain when his heart aches).
Of course, the literal/non-literal duality of the “heart” motif is awesome in itself.