Oh boy! This one is a long one. There was never a very clear synopsis or summary for this drama before I watched it, so I sort of went in blind. The summary on DramaWiki is also TOTALLY off, so I advise people to ignore it. Out of all the classic Chinese dramas I’ve seen, I think Jie You (Zhang Xin Yi) is probably my favorite female lead. She’s just really unique, quirky, and cute but still really strong. She’s also extremely clever and knows when people are trying to screw her over, which allows her to poke fun at them to their dismay. Nothing about her is delicate and she has a very brave and free spirit. She doesn’t have the high, light voice that most female lead characters in classic dramas have either. Her voice is really low and thick, which is a nice breath of air.
Jie You grew up as an orphan with a group of street performers and travels around with them to perform and make money. Along one of their journeys, she meets Weng Gui (Yuan Hong), a prince from Wu Sun, but thinks he’s some kind of criminal and fugitive. They coincidentally meet each other numerous times in the vast Gobi (?) desert and eventually build up friendship and trust.
When Jie You arrives at the Han Kingdom, she discovers that she is related to the royal family and that her parents gave her up when she was a baby due to some troubles they had. Over there, she meets Huai Tian Sha, a high ranked soldier. Her cousin, who’s a princess hates Jie You out of jealousy and spite and tries numerous times to defame her. However because Jie You is clever, she outsmarts the set ups that her cousin throws at her. It’s really funny to watch how she sarcastically and charmingly gets herself out of bad situations. Long story short, the King of Han finds interest in her and makes her He Qing princess, who is to be married off to the king of Wu Sun, Jun Xu (Yuan Wen Kang), who is Weng Gui’s older brother. Jie You is in despair about the idea of leaving her free lifestyle but isn’t really left with a choice with the king’s orders. Huai Tian Sha is ordered to be her escort as well as her bodyguard forever. Jie You’s street performance troupe friend, A Cai, follows Jie You as her personal servant.
On her way to Wu Sun, she happens to meet up with Weng Gui. Throughout their journey, they end up falling in love which is taboo because she is to marry his brother and become one of the “mothers” of Wu Sun. They also meet a traveling merchant, Feng Liao, who accompanies then and likes to tease Huai Tian Sha.
Jie You really has a flare to her especially when she continuously challenges both the king of Han as well as Wu Sun who can’t do much to harm her because she’s usually right. Really ballsy and cool in my opinion!
Anyway there’s still a lot to watch but I’ve been really happy with everything so far. I don’t think I’ve seen Zhang Xin Yi act before, although I know she’s a veteran. I think she plays Jie You really well, but needs to work on her crying scenes. Sometimes they lack emotion and it becomes really awkward. I really like how most of the drama takes place in Wu Sun which is out in the open lands and deserts rather than the Forbidden City. I love the chemistry between Jie You and Weng Gui and can’t wait to see more and how they deal with the fact that she’s married to his brother!
So it’s been a few episodes since Jie You married Jun Xu. I think she’s terribly lucky to have Huai Tian Sha and Feng Liao with her. They are cautious of the people that she’s surrounded with and genuinely protect her. Ah Cai is a bit of a wild card. She gets swayed at certain times in the palace but for the most part, maintains her loyalty. Unfortunately after moving in to Wu Sun, Jie You lost most of her cheery nature that she had before. It would have been interesting to see how the king of Wu Sun would react, had he seen all the tricks she could pull.
Her main adversary in the palace is the other queen, Hu Gu. Hu Gu is shrewd and always tries to fight for the attention of Jun Xu. She was actually married off as sort of a secret agent because her father is plotting against Wu Sun. Time after time she tries to make Jie You look bad and set her up but Jie You is smart enough to not be taken down by her tricks. One thing that makes Hu Gu more tolerable than other antagonists in other period dramas is the fact that she can actually fight, and is not some delicate woman that necessarily needs the protection of other people.
Jun Xu who lost his wife awhile before marrying Jie You vowed to never love again and so pushes away his queens and lacks intimacy with them at first. Weng Gui although can’t publicly pronounce his love for Jie You, helps and protects her in the background. He proposes many times of just taking Jie You and running away together but Jie You always refuses. She acknowledges the huge responsibility she has to improve the relations between the Han and Wu Sun. Rumors fly around the palace of Jie You having an affair with Weng Gui, making Jun Xu uncomfortable.
Jun Xu is slowly warming up Jie You but I wish he expressed it more even though I know Jie You really loves Weng Gui.
I keep hearing about people having a problem with Zhang Xin Yi’s plastic surgery. While I admit it is a bit extensive, who cares? Anyway so a lot of things has happened. Jie You ended up getting pregnant with Jun Xu’s child but someone scheming the background managed to make her miscarry the child. Poison had been continuously sneaked into her food. An old servant of the late He Qing princess had been investigating what caused her master’s death and told Jie You she had found the cause as well as the cure, allowing Jie You to live.
Weng Gui is forced into a marriage with A Yi Na, his childhood friend who had always loved him. However it doesn’t take her long to discover that he’s really already in love with Jie You. She becomes very agitated and anxious every time Jie You and Weng Gui are in the same environment. It was sort of unfortunate to see her reach this stage because she was so kind and bubbly when she first became friends with Jie You. At one point, she tries to commit suicide. Weng Gui is in a turmoil because he cares for her like a brother and always places Jie You’s needs first.
Things become more messy when a general from Hu Gu’s country visits and sees Jie You. They had met previously in the desert while Jie You was still traveling with the performance troupe. At that time, Weng Gui and Jie You had deceived him to get away. The general tells Jun Xu about the encounter. Jun Xu is very paranoid with the rumors of JIe You and Weng Gui flying around already. Knowing that both Weng Gui’s and her lives are at stake, she denies it and makes up another story of how she used to live in the desert but that it was more than a decade ago. The general brings in the leader of the troupe who had raise and treated Jie You like his own daughter. The leader feigns ignorance and said he agreed to come because he just wanted to see the esteemed princess.
Unfortunately Jun Xu doesn’t let the leader go and throws him into prison much to Jie You’s despair. She’s in a bind where she wants to save the leader but if she revealed the truth, she might be killed as well. She asks Weng Gui to go see the leader. This part was really depressing to watch even when I saw it coming. The leader just tells him that he’s lived long enough and that he just wants Jie You to be okay. He manages to convince Weng Gui to kill him so he wouldn’t trouble Jie You anymore. Weng Gui chokes him to death while crying having received the leader’s kindness when he was nearly dying in the desert when he first met Jie You.
I definitely thought this drama was much more interesting in the front than the back. Jie You was SO much more happy before. They started to lose me a bit towards the back but I guess the intensity of the plot still keeps me going, it’s just a little slow.
Things are getting really ugly with Chang Shan Xi Hou and a pregnant Hu Gu interfering and corrupting the people and the system. Hu Gu had set Jie You up causing her to be thrown into prison. In order to save her, Weng Gui declares war on Jun Xu. Jun Xu lets Jie You go to convince him to surrender. After seeing that she’s safe and some discussion, Weng Gui agrees. Weng Gui seriously has some unconditional love for her, he was willing to commit treason just for her. He surrenders to Wu Sun’s victory. Jun Xu is relieved as well as upset because it pretty much validates the rumors of their affair. It was so satisfying to see Jie You bitch slap Chang Shan Xi Hou. She was taken away but it was still great to see!
Both Jie You and Weng Gui are thrown into prison. After being interrogated by Jun Xu, both of them admit their love for each other much to Jun Xu’s dismay. Then again how much can you expect when you’re forcing someone into marriage? Before Jun Xu can think of a punishment for them, the prison catches on fire while Ah Cai went to visit Jie You. Jie You and Weng Gui escape, but Ah Cai is left behind. Jun Xu comes and is devastated, thinking that both his wife and his brother are dead. Jie You and Weng Gui escape with the help of Huai Tian Sha and Feng Liao to the temple where the royal family’s ancestors are. Meanwhile Hu Gu gives birth to a son to Jun Xu’s delight, but he is suspicious of her for everything that happened. He ends up taking his son away and giving it to his mother to take care of, citing to Hu Gu that this was their tradition. One thing I think was remarkable of Hu Gu is that she was willing to sacrifice her baby’s title as crowned prince if he was able to stay by her side and be raised by her. Of course in a family with a history of miscarriages and literally no heirs, Jun Xu would never allow that.
At the temple Jie You hears about Hu Gu giving birth and how she was sick during her pregnancy. Jie You easily makes the connection that Hu Gu was suffering the same toxic effects she had when she was pregnant which meant that Hu Gu was probably not the culprit behind to her miscarriage. As evil as Hu Gu is, she isn’t the culprit behind all the troubles. Even she starts to suspect something is wrong after Jie You’s supposed death in the burnt prison.
Jie You pretends to be a ghost in the temple and interrogates both Jun Xu’s mother, empress dowager and Hu Gu when they visit the temple. The dowager is about to kill Hu Gu’s child until Jie You intervenes. She demands answers from the dowager. The dowager thinking that Jie You is really her spirit, tells her the truth under all the fright. Apparently she was the one behind the miscarriages to protect the pure bloodline of the royal family. What I don’t get is if Jun Xu has been marrying people outside of the country and she was trying to kill the kids, then who would be the next king? Some reverse monarchy going on there. It is revealed that though, the dowager was only behind the miscarries, not the deadly toxic characters of the pregnancies.
I’ve actually already finished the drama but there’s so much to write so this will take awhile.
WOW okay sorry for the late update on this drama! Honestly it was off to a really great start but began to lag towards the end I got quite bored with it. Anyway Jie You manages to take Hu Gu’s child from the evil hands of the dowager. When Hu Gu comes to the temple to pray, Jie You appears as a spirit again but with Hu Gu’s child, threatening her to get the truth. Hu Gu confesses some things but Jie You is aware that she’s not the main culprit in a lot of things that happened. She reveals that she is alive and not dead from the fire. They have their own suspicions as to who’s behind all the problems, Chang Shan Xi Hou.
Meanwhile in the palace, Chang Shan Xi Hou has poisoned the Jun Xu quite badly and pretty much taken up the position as the royal commander of everything while he has men controlling Jun Xu in the back. Hu Gu is aware of all this shit and wants to take him down with Jie You’s help. They stage a capture where Jie You acts betrayed when palace guards come to take her and Weng Gui back to the palace from the temple. Chang Shan Xi Hou is there, eager to execute them. Hu Gu pretends to have no part in the plan until Jie You starts talking in court and Hu Gu urges her on, pretending to be curious but really wanted everyone else in the court to know what Chang Shan Xi Hou has done.
I don’t remember quite well what happened but basically the truth is revealed that Chang Shan Xi Hou had been torturing Jun Xu and poisoning him. He manages to escape the palace after accidentally killing Ah Yi Na (who’s his sister if I didn’t mention before) but Jun Xu dies from all the poison. Despite how bitchy Ah Yi Na was, she appeared last minute trying to stop her brother from his horrendous actions and ends up on the other end of the blade while protecting Weng Gui. Huai Tian Sha is also killed, breaking Feng Liao’s heart. Weng Gui is crowned as the king. Jie You decides there’s nothing more for her left to do in Wu Sun and prepares to leave. She leaves Weng Gui, their romance not enough to make her stay. Honestly by this point of the drama, their romance was sort of something that was shoved in the back of everyone’s minds. The politics in the palance were much more important.
As Jie You leaves the palace, she bumps into Hu Gu who is also leaving with her bodyguard, stating that they too have no reason to stay in Wu Sun. I really liked how the two women became friends in the end and worked together to overthrow Chang Shan Xi Hou. However in the fields as they are talking, he appears again wanting to kill them. Hu Gu’s bodyguard is able to hold him off for some time but in the end Weng Gui shows up to kill him. Weng Gui pretty much spills his heart out at Jie You and convinces her to stay.
So there you go, that’s the end! Seriously the beginning portion of the drama was so so promising, the ending was just a big shame. I know the plot was like destined for tragedy because it’s based on true events and what not but man… Jie You became so stiff and depressing after arriving at Wu Sun. Their palace lives felt like a prison, it was even stifling to watch. There was a long period of time where Jie You and Weng Gui had this push and pull relationship where she would try to push Weng Gui away and focus on her duties but then give in to temptation in the end. I really wish they thought the whole story line through because there were some really gorgeous scenes and visual compositions going on, especially the outdoor shots in those stunning costumes. Sorry for the lack of photos in these posts, stills are sort of difficult to find!