Kingdom 2 – 38

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That sure didn’t smell like a penultimate episode.

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.

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9 comments

  1. R

    I bet this seasons going to end with an enemy invasion, a coup d'état or some other cliffhanger to entice viewers into buying the manga.

  2. e

    No Lei but we got a rare Mountain People cameo at the end :,> as a side dish to the return of effing Li Mu on the field.
    But seriously man. Your first paragraph. They can't be ending it here. Of course they can. All right there is the manga but still it would suck. There is just too much stuff on the verge of happening. Grahhh.

    'coming across a field of slain children on the way.' and with this the Han army unit earned the badge of true evil and Xin's Slaying Hand Of Justice. Indeed after Lun Hu and Lian Po he has improved greatly.
    Talking of Xu… what's wrong in your book with the poor elder's head? *also remember it's not the size that matters but how you use it* *crickets* as a full adult he's very short and woth tiny shoulders compared to other characters but the head itself is about as big as everyone else's. He could simply be born with borderline dwarfism. In any case his design served the image of Xu as managing his weak position by relying on wits and brains imho. * I'm biased and guilty about lollipop heads but nevermind that XD*

    The palace intrigue and family tangles… addictive stuff. They're no fun when you're involved (well, YMMV) but oh hey they're irresistible in fiction. Moar palace intrigue please! Go Zheng go! That's my boy go wipe the smirk off Buwei's face 8D.
    Of course it works so well because you see the strategy at the top and the battlefield ramifications – and fallout – . For the latter they achieved a very good – and bloody – balance for me.
    There is so much studd being introduced I dare not guess what they are gonna show us next week. But I'll keep my farewell handkerchief at hand just in case :,)

  3. what's wrong in your book with the poor elder's head?

    He's a walkin' candy apple…

  4. e

    Curses. Never tried candly apples and I'd SO like to.

    Wait are you implying he looks edible? Errrr…

  5. e

    Oooooh. I can't make heads (sorry) or tails of the pak bench man's last line though :,D – just before the scene break and outdoors-indoors switch – .

  6. "Never seen that before… Bird into a woman's head."

  7. e

    The second sentence really left me at loss there (I kept hearing 'edge' 'ledge'… 'wedge'? instead of 'head'). Abject pottery all over again man, abject pottery.

  8. t

    yeah..I haven't accepted yet the fact that kingdom is ending next week.
    I really hope for S3 announcement. there is so much to tell about what's coming next that even 3cour season #3 seems too little…and yeah, it gets even better!

    zheng is pulling out an interesting wild card. well, he must take risks and actions if he wants to survive against Lu Buwei power. and this the royal brother is back. can he be trusted? well…we are familiar with enough scenarios to know that answer is simply no. but we also know that when rivals share an enemy..they will unite to bring him down (at least for now). this seems interesting because we are getting a tough situation between two camps in the political map, but also there are issues from the outside in political field (which is highly related to military of course). the whole swinging between those 2 strongly tied together elements is what makes kingdom so much fun even when there is no war and fights.

    oh god…next week "final impressions" I'll be sad to be without kingdom after almost a year of 39 weekly episodes started in June… not to mention that for now Studio pierrot listed 4 series in 2014 – 2 of them in this spring – Soredemo and babysteps (at least the latter probably 2cour) and 2 other for later on – tokyo ghoul and Sabagebu! so it's hard to say if kingdom will somehow will be included this year… :(

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