You know the drill by now. Lots of good stuff happening on-screen, but not a lot of interpretation necessary. In the episodes where politics and strategy don’t play a big part (this was definitely one of those) Kingdom is one of the most WYSIWYG shows there is. Thankfully we continue to see a restrained use of CGI, and there are actually some nice nuggets of animation here, and the battle sequences are choreographed well. The scene composition has always been excellent here, hardly surprising with an old hand like Kamiya Jun on the tiller – it’s just a question of the animation itself. Lately, that hasn’t been a problem.
The situation in the palace seems pretty clear cut at the moment. Wang Qi continues to play the Cheshire Cat, holding his cards close to the vest. Minister Jie is in full panic mode, clearly incapable of leading troops in battle. Thankfully for him he has a few competent men working for him – Si Shi, commander of the Royal Guard, and his lieutenant Zuo Ci. And Wei Xing, who heads a squad of elite crossbowmen. As Duanhe and the Mountain Folk work over Si Shi, Bi and Xin lead a group through the tunnels underneath the palace to try and take out Cheng, who continues to do his best Cleopatra impression. And it’s Zuo Ci, seemingly the fiercest of them all in single combat, who holds the line against them. Naturally, it’s Xin who presents himself as the challenger, even as Bi’s courage fails him.
I keep waiting for Xin’s relentless lack of caution to be his undoing, but so far sheer GAR has trumped numbers at every turn. He’s undeniably courageous, that’s for sure – though I can help but think that a poisoned dart from Diao would go a long way to taking Zuo Ci down. Bi set off enough death flags this week to supply a week of Madoka Magica eps back to back, so I think we can assume he’s done soon, though Xin will obviously survive. Apart from a few key players, it seems clear that Jie’s rebellion is full of paper tigers – men who will desert the cause at the first sign Zheng is winning and who aren’t likely much use in battle anyway. Unless someone truly powerful like Wang Qi or Lu Buwei steps in to save them – and I see no reason whatsoever to expect that – this rebellion might be over pretty shortly, and the story transitioned to the next phase.