Kingdom 2 – 34

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Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

So much for the last six episodes of Kingdom being a kind of postscript or epilogue – the peacetime focus lasted all of half an episode, and then it was right back into battle again.  That said, the game was definitely changed in a big way, and some long-awaited appearances by long-absent characters took place just as expected.  Though perhaps not in exactly the way we might have expected them.

In the aftermath of a great victory, of course, there must be celebration and reward (by contrast, Lian Po has been exiled from Wei for his defeat and flees to Chu).  It’s nice to see Xin and Zheng together again, though their reunion was all too brief.  Zheng might be lonely with so few true friends in the Capital, but there are hints that things are finally progressing with Xiang (hard to read too much into her blush, though – she’s a hair-trigger blusher).  Xin also proves once more that he’s hopelessly out of place at court – though in Zheng he at least has an audience that’s forgiving of his boundless breaches of decorum.

Also interesting here is the interplay between Huan Ji and Zheng, two important men getting their first look at each other.  Huan Ji is recognized as the second greatest hero of the war with Wei (after the White Elder) – he’s given three additional court ranks along with a heap of gold, and it’s safe to assume he’s a real threat to the very top ranks of the Qin army.  Xin himself is the third most-honored – much to his surprise – and is given two court ranks and half the gold Huan receives (which is still many times what he’s seen in his entire life).  Most importantly, he’s officially promoted to 1000-Man General – though that seems like it was a foregone conclusion after he fulfilled Meng Ao’s requirement in battle.

The intrigue at court – the unsettled power struggle between Zheng and Lu Buwei – is given surprisingly little attention here.  Soon after the ceremony the story flashes forward by six months.  Meng Tian is happily flirting with Wei women when he’s given the surprising piece of gossip that the Feixin Unit has lost several battles in a row, and things are so bad Xin may be stripped of his promotion.  Tian shows he’s a true friend by going to the frontlines of the still-simmering war with Wei and checking things out for himself.  And it’s bad – recriminations are flying, and it seems the problem is that in Qian Lei’s absence, Xin himself (along with Mr. Yuan) has been doing to strategizing.  And they suck at it.  Indeed, it’s in moments like this that Xin’s downtrodden background becomes an important element in the story.

Meng Tian’s response is more or less as expected – he offers to send his otouto Meng Yi to help the Feixin Force.  That would have been interesting – Meng Yi is a hugely important historical figure whose direct connection to the story in Kingdom hasn’t been established – but things go in another interesting direction.  Meng Yi is otherwise in-demand, so he sends Diao in his place, a development I mentioned as a possibility last week.  It is indeed pretty early in her training for this, but anything that links Diao back to the story is a welcome development – it’s also interesting to wonder whether reuniting with Xin also gets Diao back into the game romantically, when it seemed as if Qian Lei had all but sealed the deal there.  The fruits of this new partnership would be a fascinating thing to watch play out, as would the eventual connection of Meng Yi to the story, but we’re only going to see the nascent version of them unless we get another season of Kingdom (which is a possibility).  Until then, we’ll have to settle for a five episode appetizer, but that should be enough to give us a taste of how Xin and Diao interact in this entirely new scenario.

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13 comments

  1. R

    Ah, Xin finally gained enough Levels to unlock the Ability "wear Armour".
    Certainly took him long enough…

  2. D

    Which makes you wonder about Meng Tian… Light armor underneath his robe or what?

  3. e

    Mithril's undershirt? :p
    There is something peeking under Tian's battle clothes that seems to be light armour. It was visible in this episode as well in his scenes out of court.

  4. t

    welcome back Diao.
    if anything was missing in Kingdom S2 ever since ep #02-03, it was Diao. and finally she is back and non other as Xin's unit strategist. it's gonna be tough road to earn the unit's trust, after all the hardship they had been through the last war.
    I am kinda upset for Chu Shui ended up in logistic. sure, it's an important job, and it fits for him for now because probably he is recovering from that injury or something. but man…he supposed to be Xin's right hand for now….
    well, the situation of Xin's unit (now officially 1000-man unit) is no big surprise. Qiang Lei departure left a too big space in Xin's unit, mostly in strategic view. and Xin is on the verge of losing his title, just after he got promoted and rewarded.
    it'll be interesting to see how things move on from here with Diao. I believe she'll return Xin's unit their honor and respect, but it's not going to be a walk in the park for them.

    the ceremony was a welcoming relief with all these battles. we got to see the palace and its characters again. we haven't seen progress or change in the status between Zheng and Lu Buwei camps. but I believe the shifting toward the palace serves as an indicator that no one forget this at all.

  5. G

    Xin is dumb and he always will be. He is a heroic and ferocious fighter but strategy is NOT in his skill set. Diao coming back is probably going to be one of the best things that could happen. If he has any plans to be the worlds greatest general then he will have to align himself with smart people to do most of the thinking for him (or at least guide him in the right direction).

  6. R

    Yeah, I highly doubt Xin will ever become a brilliant strategist.
    I rather bet on him becoming an instinctive General like Duke Hyou.

  7. No, he's not a brilliant strategist and likely never will be. But he's not dumb, just ignorant. There's a big difference.

    I've said it before, but Xin has had almost no formal military training. Wang Ben, Meng Tian, even Qian Lei – these people have been training in tactical training for their entire lives, effectively. Cut the guy a little slack.

  8. e

    As short as the court segment was I quite enjoyed the little moment during the homours ceremony when the sadistic bandit General realizes Zheng is more than he appears. Ohoh 8D

    Also… how long before someone in the Feixin unit finally realizes Diao's secret? :p Quite glad to have the young lady onscreen and active again in any case. Those guys need help :,D.
    P.S.: my bet is palace maiden got kissed… on the cheecks (the ones up north don't get strange ideas :p ).

  9. G

    In those days can a palace maiden even marry the King? Or is he only allowed to marry other royalty?

  10. e

    P.S.: argh it's an off-day for me typos-wise . My apologies to the palace maiden's cheeks :,D

  11. R

    Absolutely agreed with elianthos80 — "wars" in the inner palaces, such as fighting for a chance to "mate" with the king, were no less bloody and brutal than the fights in the battlefields. Even young females of high rank — and high rank only — would still need to go through a rigorous selection process and establish their relationship network before they were even considered entering the inner palace. Even when an extremely beautiful young female entered the inner palace, she might not even get a chance to see the king for her life — she needed to be very tactical, opportunistic, and manipulative in order to survive and, if time was right, advance. In other words, what we see here in Kingdom is so rare, if not simply fictional.

  12. G

    Bah forgot about that. Guess I'm getting senile.

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