Boy, having Kingdom end next week is seriously going to suck. You could hardly ask for a more open-ended “resolution” – we have plates spinning everywhere. The military and political situations have never been more in flux, Qian Lei is whereabouts unknown, and all sorts of interesting possibilities have been tantalizingly laid out on both the personal and global fronts. What a time to end. I’ll be fervently hoping for an S3 announcement at the end of next week’e episode, but there’ve been no hints dropped so far that it’s going to happen.
This week’s episode was neatly divided between the political and military side, starting out with Zheng’s decision to seek out Chengjiao’s help in containing the rise of his likely biological father, Lu Buwei. Zheng’s top aides Changwenjun and Si Shi are understandably skeptical – so far, entreating to untrustworthy family members for help hasn’t exactly paid off for Zheng. Si Shi is in an especially uncomfortable “comfortable seat” as Chengjiao’s former top aide himself.
Can Chengjiao be trusted? Obviously not – but it might conceivably by true that he despises the foreigner-commoner Lu Buwei even more than his half-brother. There’s no way this is more than a marriage of convenience – a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation – but for now, that might be an acceptable gamble for Zheng to make. And as always, he’s thinking big – he has in mind to leverage the power of the Chengjiao faction to use Lu Buwei’s arrogant self-promotion to Prime Minister against him. How? By getting his own loyalists (certainly Changwenjun and probably Si Shi) appointed to the now dual empty Chancellor positions before Lu Buwei can fill them with half of his Four Pillars.
Meanwhile, Xin and the Feixin unit advance on Xu, coming across a field of slain children on the way. They catch the attacking Han army of 2000 by surprise as they’re about to break down the last gate of the fortress that represents the entire tiny Kingdom, and once Xin – who’s grown fearsomely strong since besting Lun Hu – takes out the Han General Ma Guan, the battle ends in a hasty retreat by the routed Han forces. Xiu is reunited with his mother, and the grateful and giant-headed elder of Xu expresses his gratitude.
No, the real action here is not the battle but what comes after – when the elder reveals the truth of Xu to Xin and Diao. The tiny kingdom exists via the good graces of Zhao, Wei and Chu – selling information about each to the other, and presumably also whatever information about other countries they manage to procure. Diao instantly recognizes the significance of this to Qin, which currently has no stake in this tiny kingdom. The elder makes a gift of a detailed map to Xin, but for now that’s all apart from his gratitude. It’s useful enough, and for now Xin’s disregarding orders to act on principle seems to have paid off.
One last wrinkle, though – the Feixin spots a mysterious army of 3000 while on their way to Dongjin Castle, and it’s soon revealed to be a Zhao force under the command of Li Mu himself. The potential implications of this are a real puzzle, with many permutations. Is there more to Xu than the elder let on – do they have a hand in Zhao’s presence here? What of the Chu garrison that left their border post at the same time the Feixin did? It must be remembered that Zhao still has a treaty with Qin and Li Mu intends to honor it, so there should be no confrontation between his army and Xin’s – but they certainly aren’t friends. After having steamrolled through Yan Li Mu is clearly planning his next major move, which is surely calculated to exert maximum pressure on Qin.