Stuck in the mirror, Si Feng sees every past life he ever led. Xuan Ji was in every one of them.
The mirror shows Si Feng another memory. The past version of him finds Lan Yue in a courtyard, surrounded by dead bodies and burning flames. He realizes that this whole time, she’s just been plotting her revenge against the Qiao family for how they destroyed her own family. He presses a pouch of money he’s saved for her into her hands, telling her to run. He’s willing to take the fall so that she can finally live the life she wants and find her surviving family.
She asks why he’s doing this. He wants to prove to her that there is sincerity in this world. He’s betting on her — he’s betting that this time, he’ll stay in her heart. She bites her finger open and presses a small bead of blood to the corner of his eye. How is he going to bet on her? Is he going to follow that drop of blood after he’s dead and ask her? She tells him to not be so foolish.
Guards from the nearby police station rush in. Not-Si Feng pushes Lan Yue to leave, then yells, “I’m here!” and picks up the sword she dropped.
Later, past Si Feng is brought before the masses for a public execution. A horse-drawn carriage pauses behind the crowd. Lan Yue parts the curtains and makes eye contact with Si Feng, who smiles. But Lan Yue just silently says to herself that he’s such a fool — who would remember him in their heart? She lets the curtain fall and the carriage moves on. Tears fall from his eyes as the executioner presses his head down and the executioner’s knife falls.
Now, the present Si Feng reminds himself that this was all a past life. He can’t let himself get sucked in. He needs to find Xuan Ji first. But then he realizes — have he and Xuan Ji met in all of their past lives?
Another memory: Si Feng is Xin Wang, who stages a coup against the emperor. Xuan Ji is Princess Jing Yuan, who kills her own father. Xin Wang promises Jing Yuan that he’ll give her everything she wants, then has his soldiers recognize her as the new empress.
Later, Xin Wang tries to convince Empress Jing Yuan that too many lives have been lost. It’s time for the killing to stop. But Jing Yuan accuses him of treason and her soldiers draw their swords. Xin Wang smiles cynically. He thought he had proven she could trust him with all he’s done for her, but she responds that the hardest thing to measure in the world is a person’s intentions. She puts some poison in a cup and gives him a choice. He can either drink it and she’ll spare thousands, or he can die fighting and she’ll spare no one.
She turns away from him, letting him make his choice, but he pulls her to him and leans in to kiss her. She pushes him away before he can, and looks conflicted even though she accuses him of overstepping. He picks up the cup and toasts her, reminding her that he promised he would give her everything she wants, then drinks the poison.
Xin Wang drops to his knees, coughing up blood. Jing Yuan kneels down and gently cups his face, then presses a drop of blood to the corner of his eye. She turns and walks away from him. He collapses, a tear falling from his eye. The last thing he sees is her back.
Si Feng reels at this memory, wondering why it always has to end like this. Must they always have this kind of ending? He doesn’t believe it.
But he sees yet another memory. This time, he gives a blind Xuan Ji his eyes, because he doesn’t want to see her die in flames. She tells him that she won’t remember him, but he already knows. He tells her to live a good life. He casts the spell and cries bloody tears.
When this past Xuan Ji opens her eyes and sees for the first time, he’s already standing on the other side of a curtain. If anyone finds out that they used forbidden magic to restore her sight, they’ll both be dead. He promises that he’ll die as far away as possible. They’ll never meet again in this life.
Another memory: Si Feng and Xuan Ji duel against each other while others watch. Xuan Ji tells him that only one of them can survive today. She stabs him, then presses a drop of his blood to the corner of his eye.
Another one: Xuan Ji is a demon and Si Feng, a demon hunter. He sacrifices himself to eliminate the evil energy within her so that it won’t follow her in the afterlife. She asks him why he’s doing this. He responds that he knew there could only be this ending once he entered her tribulation. He doesn’t care if she doesn’t understand. He just doesn’t want her to forget him.
She responded that this is his tribulation — what does it have to do with her? Why should she remember him? He says that it’s fine if she forgets him, too. He’ll wait for her. He’ll always find her. He dies, and she walks away.
And again: Xuan Ji stabs an imprisoned Si Feng, interrogating him on the location of a treasure map. He responds that he doesn’t know of any treasure map. They’ve known each other for so long — does she not believe him anymore? She lets out a dark laugh as she looks at the numerous sketches of her on a table in his cell. He’s known her for so long, so he should understand exactly what kind of person she is. Even if he spends his whole life drawing her, she won’t spare him a glance. She slices one of his sketches in half.
And also: Xuan Ji stabs Si Feng yet again, but this time they’re fellow disciples from the same sect. Xuan Ji tells Si Feng he’s lost. Si Feng asks if to her, there is only ever winning and losing. He never wanted to fight her for anything. He’s always been willing to do anything for her. He presses himself into her sword. She pulls it out and he collapses, probably dead. She presses a drop of blood to his eye.
And another one! Si Feng pulls Xuan Ji through a palace as they’re chased by assassins. He gets stabbed by one and dies.
Again, Si Feng asks why they always end like this. In so many meetings, do they really never stay together for life? The mole at the corner of his eye glows red.
Back in the mortal world, Ting Nu wakes up and is surprised to find Si Feng, Xuan Ji, and Zi Hu. But he also frowns, because he sees that their souls have been sucked into the mirror, which has created internal demons for all of them. He sends his magic toward the three of them,
The other group try to break out of the barrier, but are unsuccessful. Yi Huan internally apologizes, silently thinking to himself that this is just temporary. They’ll all be out soon. Min Yan tries to attack the barrier with his sword. It rebounds at him, surprising him and cutting his hand. He falls to the ground. His blood presses against a tile on the ground, activating it, and he realizes that the blood may have helped break the spell. They try again and manage to break out.
Si Feng is trapped in another memory. He stops Xuan Ji right before she stabs a dagger into his heart, asking why she insists on killing him. She responds that someone has put a bounty on his life. He is her last target. Once he’s dead, she will finally be free. She puts both hands on the dagger for leverage. He surprises her by grabbing it and then plunging it into his own heart.
He collapses. Xuan Ji drops down with him and asks why. He repeats the same phrase: he hopes she won’t forget him. She presses a drop of blood to his eye, again and says that he should give up. Why should she remember him? He thinks to himself, again, that it’s okay if she forgets him. He will wait for her; he will find her; and when he does, they’ll settle their grievances once and for all.
Si Feng cries to himself. Nine times and the ending is always the same and unchanging. Why?
Ting Nu begs for the three to wake up, but Si Feng coughs up blood, his mole flashing red, and Xuan Ji looks distressed.
Xuan Ji spins, covering her ears as images and sounds flash around her. The God of War stands on a dais, shackled by heavenly soldiers. She demands to know why she’s being punished. Why is she being forced back out of the heavenly realm to attempt to achieve immortality again? Her existence in the heavenly realm was a joke to begin with. Now they’re making her into even more of a joke. She would rather become a demon.
The God of War is struck by heavenly lightning and screams. Xuan Ji also screams. The God of War declares that she will kill everyone in the heavenly realm. In the mortal world, Xuan Ji starts glowing blue and she levitates.
In the heavenly realm, the God of War’s life column starts activating with her energy. Si Ming attempts to seal it.
In the memory, a golden-winged bird appears and makes the God of War’s shackles disappear.
Teng She watches as the God of War’s armor disappears. He smiles to himself. He will find the God of War today.
In the mortal world, the other group finds Ting Nu and the three trapped in the mirror. Xuan Ji now wears all of the God of War’s armor.
Si Ming struggles to maintain his hold on the God of War’s life column.
Hao Chen watches as lightning strikes.
Ting Nu exclaims that the God of War’s killing energy is starting to drain Si Feng and Zi Hu. He urges the others to do something. Min Yan comes up with the idea of using a meditation spell on Xuan Ji. He and Xiao Yin Hua summon their magic. The others pitch in.
In the heavenly realm, Si Ming puts all of his energy into trying to prevent the God of War from awakening, even if it might take his life.
But Xuan Ji opens her blue eyes and demands to know who is trying to stop her. They can all die. She starts draining everyone’s energy. Everyone starts coughing blood and dying. Yi Huan tries to decide what to do. Si Feng will die if the God of War is allowed to wake up, but if he destroys the mirror, what will happen to Yu Er?
Yi Huan opens his heavenly eye and uses it to strike the mirror. It shatters, releasing everyone from its hold. Si Feng’s skin repairs itself from where it had started to turn into something… else.
Yuan Lang and Di Lang frown from outside the complex after Yi Huan opens the heavenly eye to destroy the mirror and prevent the God of War from awakening. Di Lang suggests that they should just abduct Xuan Ji now that they’ve verified her identity, but Yuan Lang knows that they can’t force her to awaken. He has a plan, though, and tells Di Lang to warn Yi Huan to follow it otherwise he’ll never see his daughter again.
Xuan Ji wakes up to find Min Yan, Ruo Yu, Ting Nu, and Yi Huan all watching over her. Min Yan hands her a hot towel. She flinches at first when she touches it — she has her sense of touch now.
Ruo Yu asks her what she saw in the mirror. Xuan Ji responds that she saw her past, and confirms that she is the God of War. Min Yan is excited about it and asks her what being the God of War is like.
Xuan Ji says that she hates it. She hates the God of War, she hates the heavenly realm, she hates everything that was in the past and in the mirror. It was full of blood and violence and was so cold. She doesn’t remember much, but she remembers how much she suffered there. She much prefers being here, with them. At least she feels like she’s actually living.
They ask her about Si Feng. Did she see him at all? She didn’t. Yi Huan scoffs. The mirror shows what the heart can’t let go of. That Si Feng saw her means that she’s the person he can’t let go of. That she didn’t see him means that she doesn’t care about him at all. Yi Huan used to want Si Feng and Xuan Ji to be together, but now he thinks they’re doomed and says that Xuan Ji should keep her distance from him.
Xuan Ji clutches her chest at the mention of the suffering that Si Feng went through. She doesn’t understand what she’s feeling, but Yi Huan says that at least it looks like she can feel sorry for someone now. Xuan Ji gets up, asking where Si Feng is. Yi Huan says he doesn’t know. He probably already left. She runs off.
Min Yan turns to Yi Huan angrily. How could he say such things to Xuan Ji? Yi Huan shrugs and says that someone needed to say it to her and Si Feng definitely wouldn’t. Someone needed to make her feel bad for him.
Si Feng stands at the docks, remembering every time he died for Xuan Ji and she didn’t care. Xuan Ji races through the city, looking for him and calling his name. She finally finds him at the docks.
I love montage episodes so naturally, I loved this one with all of its glorious heartbreak.
Si Feng and Xuan Ji’s past lives are so poetically tragic. It makes sense why even in this life, Si Feng continues to be so self-sacrificing for Xuan Ji. It’s always been that way. He’s always put her first. All of the bloody tears he shed in all his past lives have led up to this, and that tear mole that Xuan Ji ironically pointed out when they first met, not knowing that she was the one who gave it to him over nine lifetimes’ worth of tragedy. I can feel Si Feng’s pain. If he’s failed nine times before, why should this time be any different?
It makes sense why Hao Chen knows that their relationship is ill-fated and doomed and thinks that it is what causes her to fail in every lifetime. But does she fail because she meets him, or does she fail because in every lifetime, she’s been heartless and led him to his doom?
It also seems clear that their story is not simply that of two star-crossed lovers. We saw in that glimpse of memory that Si Feng was in the heavenly realm, too. Was that where their story first started? Or was it just another instance of how they were doomed to fail?