Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: Love and Redemption (Ep. 8)

Si Feng reaches the final level of the Thirteen Tribulations, but what awaits him at the end is an impossible ultimatum. Xuan Ji continues to train with Hao Chen, who discourages her from thinking about the six senses that she’s lacking or how to get them back.


Recap

Si Feng’s shadowy opponent sends his sword flying toward him. Si Feng dodges out of the way. The sword slices off a lock of hair, then returns to its bearer. Si Feng comes face to face with himself. The two battle it out. At one point, Si Feng manages to stab his doppelganger, but Si Feng is the one who ends up coughing up blood.

The doppelganger tells Si Feng to give up — he can’t hurt him without hurting himself. But Si Feng keeps fighting. They switch to using conjuring magic instead of weapons. Si Feng’s bell gets knocked to the ground and rings its counterpart. The sight of the bell reminds Si Feng of Xuan Ji. He’s almost at the end of his Thirteen Tribulations and he refuses to be defeated now. He finds the strength he needs to defeat his doppelganger.

A glowing mask appears in the sky, followed by the Palace leader and Yuan Lang, floating on a cloud. In order to complete the Thirteen Tribulations, Si Feng has one choice left to make: put on the mask, he’s free to leave and rejoin Lize Palace.

But of course, there’s a catch. Si Feng recognizes the mask as the Lovers’ Curse mask. Once he wears it, he must give up all feelings and emotions. Every time he allows himself to feel, the curse will take effect. Eventually, it’ll take his life. The choice Si Feng has to make is whether he wants to exchange his emotions for his freedom. Would he rather spend the rest of his life suffering in the Pagoda of the Thirteen Tribulations?

The Palace leader urges Si Feng to put on the mask. Si Feng thinks that if he were to live his life without feeling, then it’s no life at all. He asks why Lize Palace insists on making its members live a life of asceticism. Why can’t they be like the other sects?

The Palace leader tells Si Feng that he was born god-sent gifts. Is he really going to throw that away for love? Love is nothing but an illusion. But Si Feng says that if there’s a way into this place, then there’s a way out. He knows he can find it.

“You can try,” Yuan Lang says before vanishing. The Palace leader disappears too, leaving Si Feng alone in the snowy landscape.

Xuan Ji and Hao Chen train combating with elemental magic, but Xuan Ji struggles to defend against the most basic of attacks. She loses her balance trying to shield a strike from Hao Chen, and he rushes to catch her before she falls. Xuan Ji points out that Hao Chen has always said she needs to feel the five elements in order to master elemental magic. How can she feel them if she doesn’t have all her senses? Hao Chen doesn’t accept that as an excuse.

Xuan Ji pores over books in the library and finally finds one on the Wanjie Bahuang mirror. Before she can read further, the book flies out of her hand. Hao Chen burns it and gives her an angry look, then stalks out. Xuan Ji chases after him, asking why he won’t let her read the book. He asks her who told her about it. She lies and says that she heard it would help her regain her six senses. He tells her to stop thinking about regaining her six senses and focus on training instead. He punishes her by telling her to go cut bamboo in the forest; she’s not allowed to eat until she’s done.

Hao Chen visits Xuan Ji while she sleeps. She’s still so stubborn; maybe if he erases her memory of the mirror, she won’t have such longing for the senses she doesn’t have anymore. He tries, but finds that he can’t use his magic in the mortal world. This is Xuan Ji’s last opportunity. What can he do to help ensure that she successfully overcomes this tribulation?

The next day, Hao Chen finds Xuan Ji still chopping bamboo in the forest. He asks if she’s still angry with him, but she says that she just wants to finish her task so she can eat. He tells her that she doesn’t need to cut bamboo anymore, then explains that the mirror is an evil mirror that poisons the heart of whoever looks into it. It takes your inner demons and heart’s desires and pulls you into an illusion that eventually sucks out your soul. If someone told her to look for the mirror, he fears they have ulterior motives.

Hao Chen tells Xuan Ji that not having all her senses doesn’t mean anything is wrong with her. She can smell and hear demons, which shows that she’s born to hunt monsters and her fate is to protect the secret place. It doesn’t matter whether she has all her senses or not. The people who truly care about her won’t care. To him, she will always be one-of-a-kind.

She promises him that she won’t go looking for the mirror anymore. Her stomach suddenly growls and Hao Chen smiles. He looks over toward a rock, where a plentiful picnic has been laid out. Xuan Ji rushes over joyously, wondering what the occasion is. He reminds her that it’s her birthday. Xuan Ji asks if she can have her bell so she can wish Si Feng a happy birthday as well. Hao Chen doesn’t respond and just gives her a look. Xuan Ji decides that she’ll just wish him a happy birthday in her mind.

Si Feng limps through the snowy field. It’s his 353rd day in the pagoda. He still hasn’t heard from Xuan Ji — is the bell really broken? He collapses and starts crawling, worried he might not be able to take it anymore. He remembers that it’s her birthday and sends her well wishes even though she can’t hear. His strength fades, but he persists in believing that there must be a way out.

Xuan Ji overhears Duan Qing trying to give Hao Chen the bottle of nectar she collected it. He coldly rejects it and cuts her off when she tries to confess to him. As someone who wants to master the Wuqing technique, her words are wasted on him. Upset, Duan Qing says that although he may pretend to be warm, he’s actual heartless and cruel. It’s clear that he’s never cared about anyone other than Xuan Ji. She runs off. Hao Chen knows that Xuan Ji was eavesdropping and calls her out on it.

Xuan Ji asks Hao Chen why he doesn’t accept Duan Qing. He reminds her that in order to study the Wuqing technique, they must give up their relationships. The way (dao) is the only truth, and everything else is meaningless.

Since it’s Xuan Ji’s birthday, Hao Chen will allow her to drink wine today. He goes to fetch some wine from the cellar. She remembers that her bell is somewhere in the library and decides to try and go find it.

She finds it on a shelf and rings it, calling Si Feng’s name. His eyes open when he hears her voice.

But then Hao Chen appears and catches Xuan Ji with the bell. She quickly puts it back on the shelf, claiming that she didn’t quite understand what Hao Chen said before and wanted to ask her friend. Hao Chen tells her that she doesn’t understand what love is, so she doesn’t need to overthink it. But Xuan Ji says that she has someone she likes: she likes Min Yan. The bell is still activated, so Si Feng can hear everything.

Hao Chen is surprised. Xuan Ji explains how she’s saved so much fruit for Min Yan because Duan Qing said that she should share what she likes with the person she likes. Hao Chen just laughs and shakes his head. This is the first he’s heard her mention Min Yan since she got to Xuyang. He tells her that she doesn’t even understand what she’s saying.

The Palace leader appears above Si Feng to say a long-winded version of “I told you so.” Si Feng put himself through all of this for a girl who doesn’t even have him in her heart? The Palace leader says that love is the coldest, most illusory thing in this world. He shouldn’t let himself be tainted by love. Lize Palace is his true home.

The Palace leader tells Si Feng to put on the mask. He can still be the head disciple of Lize Palace. The Palace leader will still make him his successor. Anyone who dares to say otherwise, he’s willing to kill.

Si Feng still doesn’t respond, so the Palace leader decides to force his hand. He reveals an image of Yi Huan in chains, being dangled above a pool of poisonous water. He’ll be lowered every hour until he’s fully submerged. Once that happens, he’s dead. But Si Feng can save him, if he puts on the mask and leaves this place.

The Palace leader disappears, leaving the mask floating in front of Si Feng. Si Feng reflects on every beautiful moment of his relationship with Xuan Ji, then grabs the mask and puts it on. A portal opens up in front of him, allowing him a way out.

Si Feng rescues Yi Huan, who recognizes the mask on his face as the Lovers’ Curse mask and says that he owes Si Feng a big one. But Si Feng says that the Palace leader was probably right: the reality of love is never as good as what you imagine. He switches the subject to ask what Yi Huan’s plan is now. What happened to his daughter? Yi Huan says that Yu Er disappeared before his eyes. He heard that there’s a heavenly eye in the heavenly realm that can see anything happening in the world. He must try whatever it takes to find his daughter again.

Wu Tong is still on the run from the united sects. A large group of sect members manage to corner him, but before he’s captured, a cloud of dark magic surrounds him and whisks him away.

Wu Tong wakes up in Tianxu Hall to find the Tianxu leader staring at him. The Tianxu leader asks if he wants to get revenge against the five sects. “You want to use me?” Wu Tong asks. The Tianxu leader responds that it depends on whether Wu Tong has any skills that can be of use.

Ling Long and Min Yan play Go, but she’s distracted by thoughts of Xuan Ji and wondering whether she’s doing okay. Ling Long has yet to win a game, and doesn’t this time either. She and Min Yan bicker and she storms off. A fellow sect member, who has come to watch them, asks Min Yan why they still fight like they did when they were children. Min Yan smiles.

Xuan Ji has trained at Xuyang for four years now. Heng Yang says that she’s now of the age where it’s time for her to experience the world. She can return to Shouyang Peak and see her friends and family again. But he also reminds her that her primary mission, no matter where she is, is to protect Shaoyang’s secret place. She must be prepared at any time to put down her life in order to protect it. Xuan Ji kneels and vows to do so.

Min Yan brings Ling Long some tea while she oversees a set of disciples while they train. She frowns, saying the tea tastes bad, and walks closer to observe the disciples. A female disciple approaches Min Yan and tugs on his arm as she asks when he’ll bring her to Shouyang Peak. Ling Long gapes at the physical touch and yells Min Yan’s name. He tries to pull away, but the disciple clings to him.

Suddenly, the disciple is forced away with a bolt of blue energy. Xuan Ji flies in and lands elegantly on a stalk of bamboo while her magical parasol holds the disciple back. She says that the disciple is actually a demon. Everyone else thinks she’s misunderstood, but then Xuan Ji fires another bolt of energy at the disciple, who bursts into multiple dark clouds that swarm around her. It’s a shadow demon.

Min Yan says that they should help Xuan Ji, but Chu Lei appears and tells them to wait. He wants to see what Xuan Ji has learned in the past four years. Xuan Ji easily holds her own against the demon. Chu Lei and Ying Hong smile at each other and leave before Xuan Ji even defeats the demon, confident that they’re not needed.

After the demon is vanquished, Ling Long throws herself at Xuan Ji with a hug. Xuan Ji greets Min Yan first before greeting her seniors, even though they’re all senior to Min Yan and should be greeted first. Her stomach growls, and Ling Long excitedly tells her about all the food that’s waiting at home.

Chu Lei is concerned by the demons that have grown increasingly bolder in getting closer to the sect. Some of the other elders are concerned that the demons may be trying to enter the secret place. Chu Lei says it’s more likely that they’re trying to plant spies within the sects. In the past four years, they’ve failed to find more traces of Tianxu Hall, but Chu Lei has one of his sect members send word to the other sects to be on their guard.

Xuan Ji and Ling Long return home and greet their father. Chu Lei praises Xuan Ji, saying that she exceeded his expectations, and reminds her that she must treat Hao Chen with love and respect in the future, since he was solely responsible for her training while Heng Yang was in seclusion for the past four years.

Now that Ling Long and Xuan Ji are twenty, it’s time for them to leave the sect and experience the world for a year. Chu Lei says that they can leave with Min Yan tomorrow to see the world.

Xuan Ji’s possessions are delivered from Xuyang. She pulls out her bell and rings it, calling Si Feng. Si Feng’s bell is in a cabinet in his rooms, forgotten. He doesn’t hear it ring.

Si Feng finds Yi Huan hiding in some curtains in his room. Yi Huan has acquired the Heavenly Eye, but says he’s just borrowing it until he finds his daughter. The heavenly realm had no use for it and had cast it aside.

Si Feng asks if Yi Huan has found Yu Er. He hasn’t. He’s only acquired a weak sense of where she might be, and he can only use his third eye infrequently. For now, all he can do is wander around looking for her. Si Feng offers him some encouragement — now that he has the Heavenly Eye, it’s only a matter of time before he finds her.

Yi Huan frowns and sighs as he looks at Si Feng’s permanent mask, feeling responsible for Si Feng’s burden. He promises that he’ll help figure out a way for Si Feng to remove the mask.


Commentary

The separation and miscommunication between Si Feng and Xuan Ji isn’t as melodramatic as I anticipated, and I love how it’s been done. This story takes place in a fantasy world, but the way in which Si Feng and Xuan Ji have grown distant is pretty similar to any sort of weakening, long-distance friendship over time, like high school friends who go off to college and don’t see each other for years. I can’t wait until they meet again.

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