Kingdom 2 – 03

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Kingdom has so many big personalities I’m surprised they can all fit on the screen.

This episode continues the theme of the last – that not all wars are fought on the battlefield, and that when soldiers die, the reach of the arm that wields the killing weapon can be very long indeed.  Indeed, this is a notion that seems very much at the heart of what the second season is likely to be.  Soliders and strategists and politicians each fight on their own turf, and when their worlds collide it isn’t pretty.

One of the most striking elements of the whole Li Mu-Lu Buwei affair has been Zheng’s silence – indeed, his virtual disappearance.  Turns out there’s a good reason for that – knowing he was powerless in the moment anyway, Zheng was trying to play the role of the puppet ruler, the powerless boy king, so as to avoid giving anything away that Li Mu could turn against him later.  He’s certainly right in assuming that even if he’s an ally for now, Li Mu is going to be an enemy again soon enough and likely to be among the most dangerous he’ll ever face.  But was Li Mu fooled?  I’ve yet to see him bested in any battle of the minds, and I’m skeptical that he was taken in by Zheng’s possum act or got the short end of the negotiations with Lu Buwei.

It’s pretty obvious from the beginning that the banquet is a highly tense affair, with the military men loyal to Wang Qi rightfully incensed at breaking bread with his killer and the politicians mocking them for their crudeness and ignorance.  Xin, being the crudest and most unspoiled of the lot, actually tells Li Mu what he thinks – and makes a promise that he and no one else is going to be the one to take his revenge.  Li Mu is predictably not angered in the slightest – he knows full well the implications of what he did – and being the strategist he is is fully aware of Xin and his reputation.  This promises to be a long-running and fascinating rivalry.

For now, though, Lu Buwei is a much bigger concern.  Zheng arranges for a discrete reunion of the original trio of himself, Xin and Diao – and it was great to see them together at last.  Zheng (and Xin, presumably) is now 17, and in Qin that means Xin has five years (in the other Kingdoms he’d have but three) until he’s officially crowned as an adult ruler.  That gives him five years to avoid being crushed by Lu Buwei, and more than anything he needs friends he can trust – and there’s no one he trusts more than Xin and Diao.  Each of them are making their way in their own field – Xin as a warrior, Diao as a budding (in more ways than one) strategist, and it seems that they will be Zheng’s most dependable allies, assuming he and Chengwenjun can manoeuver the political game sufficiently well to give them enough time to be of real use.

The other interesting element in the episode is the role of Kaine, Li Mu’s… what – assistant?  Confidante?  Lover?  She has an amusing reunion with Diao, with their clear mutual affection showing through despite their status as enemies (their nominal alliance being recognized as a transient state of affairs by all who know better).  She also spots something she recognizes in Qiang Lei (is she even trying to pass as a girl anymore?) – perhaps she has experience with a member of Qiang’s very special tribe.  There’s also an odd-looking spy in the midst, who seems especially interested in the goings-on of Xin, though what this person is after is a matter left for future episodes.

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  1. R

    "…that not all wars are fought on the battlefield, and that when soldiers die, the reach of the arm that wields the killing weapon can be very long indeed."

    Very well said indeed. This is quite what happened in history and probably what we will see this season. I like all the military strategies in season 1, and it fascinates me that we probably will see more than that this season.

    This episode probably may not feel as exciting as the previous two, but it still charms me. I think it is to set the stage for future events. We probably will see how Zheng grows his power and crushes Lu Buwei. We probably will see how Xin fights Li Mu, and — if it follows history — we probably will see how Li Mu falls. I am very interested in seeing how all these events unfold, and how the characters will act under these events. I am getting more and more interested in Li Mu — I wonder how the show will create this historic figure. By the way, I think seiyuu Morikawa plays Li well. Zheng is depicted as a tyrant in history, so I would like to see how he's portrayed here.

  2. e

    @Ronbb: thank you for providing the thoughtful comment, you basically alrdday expressed what I wished to say.
    While I managed to watch this at 2 a.m. I was too tired to comment… and when I woke up my brain was totally not in a serious mindset. My apologies for some extra silliness to follow. <—– you know I actually cheered internally at that very moment. And I was actually missing Ten(g) 's own peculiar smiling poker face.

    Aw Xin, there was some awesomeness to make up for your blunder in your banquet speech.
    Talking of banquet, that was some food fanservice. And it wasn't CG food either! Qiang Lei silently went on eating while Xin had his flaring temper moment. Wise girl :p.
    There was some more conventional service and boob gags too – btw Enzo, I love how you were all serious in the 3rd paragraph about the Li Mu vs Xin sequence then had the latter's appetite face framing it X,D – , very little but for a series that has been so unusually free of it it sorta stands out to me. The only fanservice instance I could remember from s1 were Duang He's armour (dem nipples rubies! ) and a couple of scenes with Wang Qi (dat gigantic bare torso ).
    This episode reminded me a bit of Sayunkoku Monogatari of all things.

    Miss Maybe Mystery Spy with a dead octopus on her head has me intrigued. Because *it's so inconspicuous of a design*, right? XD

    I'm quite eager to see how Zheng Xin and Diao will fare among the charismatic brains in power. And I wonder if by the end of the season we might see Wang Qi's lance put to use already. Relatedly: do you think there will be timeskips? Witnessing the progression in leisure fashion vs covering those fateful five years in the first half or less (for instance) are both appealing scenarios and I think the series can execute them well in any case. But I'd really wish to see what Zheng&allies can unleash once he's crowned…

  3. R

    Thanks elianthos80 :).

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