We’ve reached the endgame stage of the Qin-Wei war now, and whichever side is going to emerge victorious is going to do so in very short order. There are lots of interesting storylines emerging here (just where the heck are Bi and his 5000 men, anyway?), but one of the most interesting is Lian Po himself. It seems as if on the Wei side we’re witnessing the difference between a man fighting for pride and a man fighting for his country – with the different priorities that each of those entail.
Without a question it’s getting to the point where Lian Po’s superpowers are a bit silly. Sweeping aside hundreds of soldiers as if they were pebbles is one thing – he’s got plenty of company in this cast there, not least from Qiang Lei – but destroying the boulder with his spear was the cherry on top for me. Of course, even after that he rode through Meng Ao’s rain of boulders (most of which were killing his own men) without so much as a second thought or an umbrella. Lian Po is obviously a badass, but he seems to take recklessness to new heights. Frankly I’m a bit surprised he’s lasted as long as he has.
Still, as insanely strong as he is I’m getting more and more convinced that Lian Po isn’t going to survive this war. There’s been a passing-the-torch theme to Kingdom from the beginning and all the more this season, but it’s growing stronger than ever now – and Meng Ao’s speech to Lian Po was the clincher for me. Of course Meng Ao might not survive either but his death isn’t necessary from a thematic standpoint – it’s Lian Po who’s the last of the legends of his era, an era in which Meng Ao is a bit player. Perhaps it will be Lian Po’s arrogance than finally does him in – he’s a man that surely can’t ever admit a weakness (least of all to himself) and he’s in his 60’s. If he keeps assuming he can do the things he did 40 years ago, that body might just betray him.
There’s certainly something to be said for spirit, though. Meng Ao undeniably showed plenty of it here, standing his ground and calling out his old schoolyard bully. There was something to his idea that 40 years of simmering rage at his white whale, Lian Po, would make him stronger than a man for whom he’s barely worth fighting. And Meng Ao surprised Lian Po no doubt, despite being the one to take the blows (we actually got a bit of hand-drawn combat here for a change). But Lian Po’s pride as one of the Golden Era transcends even Meng Ao’s resentment, I think – he simply can’t accept that he could possibly lose to anyone not among the Six Great Generals of Qin. And they’re all dead.
What role will the kids play in all this? It’s Meng Tian who can’t hold himself back and flings himself into the battle after his grandfather takes his second major wound, but Lian Po brushes him aside easily. Xin is present, and he’s not a stand-on-the-sidelines kind of guy even if he’s badly wounded himself. I could see him wanting to give Meng Ao his chance for vindication, but it seems clear that the White Elder has fired every gun he has and come up short – there’s nothing holding back Xin from trying to claim his place at the table by taking the biggest head of them all. If he wants to prove he’s the man to carry Wang Qi’s spear, what better way than to vanquish the last of Wand Qi’s great rivals?
Of course in the larger picture all that may come up moot, which is why it seems to me that Lian Po is more concerned with the trill of battle than with actually winning the war. Huan Ji has finally surfaced, and as usual in the most dangerous possible place for the enemy – at the hapless Wei puppet supreme commander’s headquarters. If he takes the head and headquarters attached to it, that seems to effectively end the war – no matter the result of Lian Po’s jousting tournament. I don’t question Lian Po’s strength, courage, or cunning – but I do question his motives and his judgment. And those may, in the end, be his downfall and that of the State of Wei.