Nirvana in Fire: Eps 7-18 (Review)
For some reason, everyone still calls Mei Changsu “Su Zhe” even though they all know that he’s really Mei Changsu. What’s up with keeping these confusing double names?! I’ll continue calling him Su Zhe for now. T_T”
“You know, this pair of hands used to bend bows and tame horses. But now it can only hide in the dark and stir the pot.” – Su Zhe
Lin Shu aka Mei Changsu aka Su Zhe is an interesting character, but it’s hard to get into his mind. He holds himself back in most all situations and keeps a cool distance between himself and others. This is understandable considering he is hiding his identity and wants to execute his plans without getting a lot of emotions involved. Also, since Su Zhe is nearing the end of his life, he may not want to get people’s hopes up. I mean, imagine the feeling of knowing that someone you thought was dead for 12 years is actually alive…but will die within a few months. Yet I can’t help but feel saddened by how Su Zhe must carry the burden virtually alone and how he will likely not let himself get fully reconnected with the people who care about him the most. The flashbacks of Lin Shu all show that he was an outgoing, lively young man–a big contrast with who he is now as Mei Changsu.
“In this world, there’s no carefree person. If you have desires and feelings, you won’t be carefree.” – Su Zhe
My favorite Su Zhe scenes are the ones in which he momentarily reveals his true self and emotions. For instance, there’s a scene when Nihuang takes him to the Lin family’s old residence to see if he would react. (At this point, Nihuang is suspicious of his identity.) He masks his emotions and leaves–but his troubled expression afterwards shows that visiting his old household revived painful old memories. And of course, another one of my favorite scenes is when Nihuang confirms that Su Zhe is Lin Shu!!! No words to describe this scene. I actually didn’t even see it coming, so when it struck, it hit me hard. This is the only time when Su Zhe can’t hold back his tears. I think he can take some solace in knowing that one more person from his past now knows who he really is. Definitely a cathartic and long-awaited moment.
One of the interesting things about Su Zhe is that he is actually Machiavellian. Although he is working towards a greater cause–putting a competent and righteous emperor on the throne and serving justice–his methods are not necessarily ethical. The ends justify the means; Su Zhe is fully prepared to sacrifice his morals and do the dirty work so that his friends (mainly Prince Jing) won’t have to. He is willing to act like the enemy to defeat the enemy. This adds a much darker dimension to Su Zhe’s character.
Although I’m rooting for Su Zhe to defeat the Crown Prince & Prince Yu, I admit that I want to see what would happen if he loses control. For the record, I’m not saying I want him to lose…I just want him to be more challenged. Up until now Su Zhe has been almost god-like in his power plays. I think there’s only been one time when someone acts outside of Su Zhe’s predictions–when Prince Yu blows up the Crown Prince’s fireworks factory. Come on, I want more unexpected things to happen to change things up! All of the players in this game have their own free-will and ought to have more surprises up their sleeve. Please let there be a wild card character who will be a tough opponent!
Now, let me talk about a verrrry important topic in NIF: the bromance & the guy characters! Dare I say it? The selection of princes & noblemen in NIF is even better than the selection of princes in Bu Bu Jing Xin. 😛
- Meng Zhi (Chen Long)–I love his bromance with Su Zhe. He recognized that Su Zhe was Lin Shu from the very moment he first saw him. The funny thing about Meng Zhi is that he appears to be an intimidating powerful general, when in fact he’s actually adorable and isn’t the brightest bulb around. I also like how he welcomed back Lin Shu into his life with open arms, no questions asked.
- Jingrui (Chen Hao Feng)–Jingrui is one of my favorites. I like that he’s goodhearted and truly wants to do what is right. Unfortunately his family background has put him into a tough moral dilemma. Jingrui is totally crushed when he finds out that his fathers (Yes, fathers. He belongs to 2 families at once o_o) are colluding together to kill off some political opponents. I hope that Jingrui won’t be implicated by his fathers’ actions. x_x
- Fei Liu (Wu Lei)–Su Zhe’s friendship with Fei Liu is the closest to a ‘real’ bromance because he really treats Fei Liu like a younger brother. Some of the only times I’ve seen Su Zhe genuinely smile is when he’s with Fei Liu.
- Prince Mu (Zhang Xiao Qian; also known as Mu Qing) & Yujin (Guo Xiao Ran)–A new bromance in the makings? These two are the younger guys in the show, and are both bright eyed and bushy tailed. They are so funny together. I think Mu Qing needs to join the Yujin/Jingrui/Su Zhe bromance!
I hope that all the bromance lasts ’til the end. Just saying.
“I care not for the views of others. But the noble souls of the departed are watching. I cannot allow them to think that I, Xiao Jingyan, has succumbed.” -Prince Jing
And on the topic of favorite guy characters, how can I not mention Prince Jing (Wang Kai; also known as Jingyan)? I know a lot of people are crushing on him a lot, but I’m not quite a HUGE fan (yet). I know this may sound like blasphemy to some people, but I just haven’t gotten to know his character well enough to be a super Jingyan fan. It’s more like, I respect that he has unyielding morals and doesn’t put on any airs. Also, I like rooting for underdog characters so of course, I’m looking forward to seeing how Jingyan can catch up to the Crown Prince & Prince Yu in the fight for the crown.
BTW, has anyone else noticed that Jingyan always looks sorrowful? :'( I understand why Su Zhe isn’t revealing his identity to him…but I think Jingyan would be so much happier if he knew the truth…
Although there are important female characters in NIF, the drama still feels male-dominated. Yes, we have some kick-butt female characters who serve as investigators (Xia Dong), generals (Nihuang) and political advisors (Banruo), but they are still in the minority. When it comes to the politics, the men are the major players, not the women. The princes’ wives are virtually nonexistent, aside from Prince Yu’s wife. Much of women’s power in NIF exists in the domestic sphere and in the Inner Palace.
Some quick thoughts on some of the women in NIF:
- Banruo (Wang Ou)–She intrigues me because she’s hard to read and has a political agenda of her own. Although she answers to Prince Yu, she’s likely using him for her own ends. I want to see what she’ll do when Prince Yu’s faction starts to lose more power. Will she switch sides?
- Nihuang–Smart, no-nonsense and loyal. She won’t hesitate to stand up for herself but also knows when to back down. I think she will be one of Su Zhe’s most important allies.
- Xia Dong (Zhang Ling Xin)–I love her action scenes!!! Xia Dong is tough as nails. I wonder if she’ll catch wind as to Su Zhe’s real identity since…after all…she’s an investigator.
- Gong Yu (Zhou Qi Qi)–Seems like she has romantic feelings for Su Zhe?
- Consort Jing (Liu Min Tao)–Prince Jing’s mom. She is a quick thinker and knows how to navigate the inner palace politics, although she generally stays out of the fray. Now that she knows that Prince Jing is aiming for the throne, will she join in the fight against the Empress & Yue Gui Fei?
I’m happy to say that Nirvana in Fire‘s popularity has sky-rocketed within this past month! I’m happy that a c-drama is getting more attention in the international drama community, even from people who usually don’t watch c-dramas. I always secretly rejoice whenever I hear that someone I know is watching the drama, hehehe.
I’m curious to hear from other NIF fans: Who are your favorite characters? Favorite bromance? I’d also like to hear about how NIF matches up to the original novel, if anyone has read the novel…
Lastly, please no spoilers in the comments! Although the drama has finished airing, I haven’t finished watching it yet!
Lang Ya Bang OST
Quote Translation Credit & English subs: Viki