Nirvana in Fire: Eps 47-54 (Final Review)

Chinese DramasDrama Reviews

Yes everyone, my journey with Nirvana in Fire has finally come to an end. I did not have much difficulties parting with the drama—not many withdrawal symptoms—and I feel at peace with the ending. I think this is in part because I watched the drama at a slow pace (rather than marathoning it) and because I accept what happened in the ending.  So without further ado, let’s get into the review!

Note: Spoilers ahead.

nife47-54.2o58

Let’s start out by talking about Mei Changsu’s ending. This is, after all, what’s on everyone’s mind, right? I understand why many people may feel sad or unsatisfied over the official ending—because obviously, no one wants the main character to die at the end.   And people may still feel unsatisfied with the unofficial alternative ending because Mei Changsu isn’t reunited with Jingyan & Co. even though he’s alive.  However, I feel that the ending is fitting and appropriate.

First of all, it is obvious from the get-go that Mei Changsu is going to die at the end. We knew about Mei Changsu’s limited lifespan ever since episode 1. We have had 53 episodes to prepare for Mei Changsu’s death—and all throughout those episodes we were constantly reminded of his deteriorating health. On top of that, Mei Changsu decides to go off to the battlefield in episode 54, ignoring all warnings about his health. It is no surprise that he does not survive. In fact, it would’ve been a surprise if he did survive. And even if he miraculously survived (in the alternate ending), there is no guarantee that he can live much longer.

“Jingyan, for me, after the re-trial of the case, it is the end.  But for you, it is only the beginning.”

-Mei Changsu

Secondly, I accept Mei Changsu’s ending because I believe he is ready to go. He accomplished his goal, reunited with his loved ones, and was able to live as Lin Shu one last time. For him to live on would be to prolong his pain. For him to live on would be a constant reminder of the past.  And now that Mei Changsu has righted the past, it is time for everyone, including himself, to move on into the future. It is time for Mei Changsu to pass on the torch, to let Jingyan & Co. fulfill his vision of a just kingdom. Even though Mei Changsu has passed on, his spirit lives on as people build upon the foundations that he set in place.

Say that Mei Changsu is still alive based on the alternative ending. It implies that Mei Changsu made everyone else believe that he was dead, and then disappeared to live with Lin Chen and Fei Liu. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch considering this would probably be the only way for him to leave without Nihuang and Jingyan going after him and trying to get him to stay. Mei Changsu likely wants to fulfill his promise to the emperor and also…he just wants to rest. Staying in the capital would not be a viable option because he would inevitably get pulled back into politics. (which is bad for his health)

nife47-54.1o66

^Someone give me a GIF of this!

I was pleasantly surprised by how much more I got to see of Mei Changsu’s personality in these final episodes. The arrival of Lin Chen (Jin Dong), Mei Changsu’s longtime friend, really livens up the drama. I get a kick out of all his scenes, especially the ones in which he interacts with Fei Liu and Mei Changsu.  Lin Chen brings out a different side of Mei Changsu.  I mean, Mei Changsu smiles multiple times, smirks and even cracks up! How many times did we see him do this before Lin Chen came? I gotta say, I love the Lin Chen x Mei Changsu bromance!

I also like Lin Chen’s character because he has no qualms with giving Mei Changsu a piece of his mind. I was scared that the two would have a falling out over Mei Changsu’s insistence on going to battle, but at the same time Lin Chen said what really needed to be said.  Mei Changsu’s inability to let go is one of his biggest strengths and weaknesses.  Though he believes he is doing things out of concern for the greater good of everyone, at the same time the people close to him will get hurt.  I could feel Lin Chen’s frustration and anger towards Mei Changsu’s stubbornness.

“Not being Lin Shu, I am not saddened.  I have been Mei Changsu for thirteen years.  I am used to it.  Let the Lin Shu that everyone remembers stay in their memories that way. Isn’t that better?”

“I am still Lin Shu.  Even though 12 years have passed, I am still the young marshal of Chiyan Army, Lin Shu!  I want to return, return to Chiyan’s battlefield.  I want to return!  For that is the place where I belong!”

-Mei Changsu

The last aspect of Mei Changsu’s character that I’d like to address is his dual identity.  The drama plays around a lot with this concept, with multiple scenes in which Mei Changsu affirms and denies his identity as Lin Shu.  Though he speaks of Mei Changsu as a created identity that was a means to an end, he cannot simply discard it once he reaches his goal.  To give up one identity would also be to give up the people who were connected to that identity.  In the same way, even though he wants his Lin Shu identity to be no more, he also can’t help but cling onto it at the very end of his life.

nife47-54.7o26

One of the most memorable parts of these episodes is, of course, the final show-down between the emperor and Mei Changsu. The resounding refrain in these scenes is “Doesn’t the truth matter? Don’t you regret it?”. I echoed the characters’ sentiments and was wondering why the emperor was taking so long to come to a decision. But there are many different reactions to the truth, especially when the truth is ugly. In this case, the emperor wants to deny the ugly truth and refuses to even look at the evidence.  I think this is because he cannot come to terms with the consequences of his decisions in such a short time period.  In the first part of the show-down, the emperor is experiencing  cognitive dissonance, in which suddenly the story that he’s been telling himself for 13 years (that his actions were justified, Prince Qi was a traitor, etc.) is totally wrong.  His entire narrative has been overturned.

“It’s not that I was born heartless.  As long as you sit on this throne, people will change.”

-Emperor

As for whether the emperor regrets his actions, his final appeal to Mei Changsu on his knees (a big gesture for the emperor there) says a lot.  Then again I may be biased because I like the emperor’s character. >_> The emperor also lost a lot because of his actions; his sister, son, good friend and one of his favored concubines.  Ironically he suspected everyone–even those who were trustworthy–so much that it led to his downfall.  I think he wanted Mei Changsu to turn around one last time, to acknowledge him and show some sign of forgiveness. Also leading up to this scene, you can see the emperor looking at Mei Changsu’s face sort of curiously and inquisitively, as though he is trying to see if traces of Lin Shu are still there. So maybe he wanted to see Mei Changsu/Lin Shu’s face one last time. It is huge that Mei Changsu does not turn around, thus denying him of any forgiveness or chance of seeing him again.

nife47-54.5o31

On the topic of the emperor, I really wonder what Jing Fei’s views of him are. Jing Fei has had a constant role all throughout the drama, yet I feel I didn’t get a very deep insight into her mindset. Note that she’s one of the only ones who does not speak out about the Chiyan case when everyone pleads before the emperor.  While there are many possibilities as to why she doesn’t speak out, a part of me wonders if she did this out of consideration for the emperor, to not add on to his public humiliation.  I think Jing Fei is someone who, even when she is righting a wrong, still wants to allow people to live with dignity.

BTW, Jing Fei becomes the empress dowager by the end, so I guess we can’t call her Jing Fei anymore.  Does anyone know her actual name?!  I’ve only been calling her by her title this whole time…

nife47-54.3o64

These final episodes show a lot more of the Nihuang x Mei Changsu OTP. Honestly I haven’t felt that much for them because I have always been more interested in the power plays than in the romance in NIF.  I’m glad that the drama didn’t let the romance overshadow the politics or make Nihuang into a damsel in distress/love-blind.  The thing I do like about her relationship with Mei Changsu is that they don’t need words to communicate and they are already past the honeymoon/lovey dovey stage.  They are close companions and a source of strength for each other, but both of them also accept that things cannot go back to the way things used to be.  (Though Nihuang has wanted to leave and start a new life elsewhere before, I think she knew it was unrealistic.)

“In fact in many people’s eyes, when he [Lin Shu] returned to the Capital, he had changed into a completely different person. But in my heart, he has always and will always be the most radiant boy of Jinling City.  With an unchanging pure heart that will never perish.”

-Nihuang

I really appreciated Nihuang’s quote (above) because it helped me better understand her perspective.  I think Nihuang plays the role of a person who never stops believing in Lin Shu, even after she thought he was dead.  Her belief in him and affinity for him goes beyond death, beyond identity changes, and beyond time.  Though Lin Shu is not the same as he was before, that doesn’t matter for Nihuang, because she can still see his best qualities, his “unchanging pure heart”.

nife47-54.6o56

Last but not least, let’s talk about Jingyan! Jingyan becomes the Crown Prince and of course, later becomes the emperor. He also finds out that Mei Changsu is Lin Shu—thank goodness—and is devastated, but recovers quickly.  He lives out his friendship with Lin Shu one last time.  The dynamics between the two of them don’t change that much.  I feel that Mei Changsu is still holding back because he doesn’t want Jingyan to get too attached or distracted.   I really like the last scene where the EMPEROR (aka Jingyan) names the new army after Lin Shu/Mei Changsu.  I love how the commemorative name acknowledges both Lin Shu, for who he was 13 years ago, and Mei Changsu, for what he did for the Chiyan army and the country.

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Other moments:

  • Xia Dong reuniting with her husband–I teared up during this part.  It was so touching seeing her reunite with her husband even though I knew little about this couple.
  • Princess Liyang playing a big role in the finale–I wasn’t expecting this because I had forgotten all about Xie Yu’s letter.  LOL.  Props to Princess Liyang for having the guts to bring the letter before the emperor.  Good thing the emperor usually doesn’t have good aim when he throws things at people.
  • Jingyan got married–His wife is only shown a few times in the last episodes.  Jing Fei was the one who chose her, so I assume Jing Fei knew what she was doing.  At the end we see that Jingyan and his wife had a child.
  • Xia Jiang making a lame comeback–Xia Jiang was the most annoying villain to me.  He constantly stirs things up but then fails big time.  Stop wasting our time, Xia Jiang!
  • Eunuch Gao remains–Eunuchs tend to get overlooked in period c-dramas (unless if a eunuch is a main character).  But did I mention before how much I like Eunuch Gao?  I liked his interactions with the emperor and how he tried to help out Mei Changsu.  At the very end we see he’s still around.

Overall

Thank you to all my readers who followed along with my Nirvana in Fire reviews.  I enjoyed reading all your comments and discussing the drama with you!  For those who are searching for another Chinese drama that is ‘just like Nirvana in Fire,’ I hate to disappoint but I cannot think of any.  I generally don’t watch political period c-dramas so I’m not very well-versed in them.  I will however, give some recommendations based on what other NIF fans have recommended to me; these are not necessarily similar to NIF but may be worth checking out:

  • Battle of Changsha
  • Three Kingdoms
  • The Disguiser
  • Love Me If You Dare

Read more Nirvana in Fire:

Lastly, if you need anything to help you laugh, this clip of Fei Liu, Lin Chen and Mei Changsu will do the trick:

Quote translation credit: Viki (English subs)

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • You finally finished it!! I totally agree with you on liking the eunuch and emperor but to tell you the truth, I was a little bit disappointed with how the emperor handled the situation in the “final face-off.” The whole time I was think… I guess it’s been a while since you took the throne and have forgotten how to put your head down. I mean there are ways where you can defer making the decision or calm the atmosphere or just buy yourself time… but hey. >.<

    • Yeah the emperor could’ve been ‘smoother’ in the face off scene. Maybe he didn’t because he wasn’t expecting this to happen for his bday banquet and he was in shock. I did like the part when his hat fell off though…

      • It was enjoyable to watch him fall apart… it just felt like I didn’t see much of a lead up to it but hey… being caught off guard happens to the best of us.

  • Ow.. You finally finish the review. Good job and very well done! I couldn’t imagine how many hours you have spent to recap all the episodes.. I really mean it when I say this because I don’t think I could do such a dedication like you…

    Again, and again.. I have to say that this is the BEST Chinese drama I’d ever watched.. At first, I watched NIF because I saw your recap… I wasn’t expect anything “extraordinary” but this production just blew my mind right out… I have known your blog for a long time and always think that you have a good taste when it comes to watch drama.. But, I have to admit when I read your comment that “the bromance’s even better than BBJX”, I was doubtful… I thought… “No… it couldn’t be… I think she’s exaggerating” But, it turns out that it surpasses it!!!! Jing Yan and MCS / MCX and Fei Liu and then even MCS / Lin Chen’s bromance is just too good to missed..

    Until the ending, I am just very touched because EVERY single one of the person in NIF actually knew that Prince Qi, the army, and all the people are actually innocent and they are willing to give their life to prove the Emperor otherwise… The drama didn’t show many of the old scene with Lin Shu’s father / Prince Qi when they were in their glory time.. But, they must have done a lot off good deeds to receive such dedication and loyalty… I was surprised even when the Emperor’s right hand, Gao gong gong actually whispered “MCS must not come to the palace”… I thought, he’s the person who would never crossed the Emperor. Even Jing Fei’s reaction to Jing Yan after she knows that Lin Shu is still alive from the book she read, she emphasized that Jing Yan must help Lin Shu to recover their family name…

    It’s sad to see the Emperor is blinded by power.. But again, who doesn’t? The China Emperor got an absolute power back then.. When he knelled and begged for forgiveness, i actually whispered “FINALLY’.. I don’t know about you Heisui.. But, I still think that the Emperor wasn’t 100% sincere to beg for forgiveness. Part of me still thinks that he’s actually afraid that the one who is going to be killed this time is actually him.. That the situation has turned 180 degrees. He becomes the weak one instead of the powerful decision maker.

    As for the official sad ending when MCS died, I was like you Heisui.. I was prepared… I knew from the beginning this is going to be a sad ending show.. And every single episode has reminded us that his health’s just awful awful.. BUUUUUUUUT, I have to admit that I wasn’t and still am not ready to say good bye… How can I live in the world without MCS? I think I should rewatch the series as soon as I can..

    Well, this is the first non romantic drama that got me hooked up! And like the rest of the people, I am looking for something “similar” just to move on. But, I have to tell you, finding a masterpiece drama like this.. It’s just so hard.. I have watched “Too late to say I love you” starred Wallace Cheung.. It’s just not that good.. I also just finished watching “Love me if you dare”.. Well.. It’s good but it’s not at the same level as NIF…. I guess, I am going to look for disguiser and hope it feels the empty hole in my heart,.. Well.. better that than nothing…. At least, I could see Hu Ge, Wang Kai and wo de Jing Fei…

    P.S: So sorry for the long comment..

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Anne! Lol I still love the bromance from BBJX though! 😉 I heard that Battle of Changsha with Wallace Huo is super good, maybe you can check that one out too. I’m not sure the emperor was 100% sincere either, but I think there was some truth to his last words to MCS.

      • Hi Heisui… Recently, I have watched similar drama to Nirvana in Fire like Battle of Changsia as per your recommendation.. Here are my opinion.. Hope it gives you insight whether “to watch” or “not to watch”:

        1. Battle of Changsia
        It’s a good drama.. But it’s not the best drama.. For the Actor, I prefer Wallace Huo in The Journey of Flower.. And for the genre, I prefer other dramas with similar stories and plots (Chinese – Japanese War)… My favorite is Infernal Lover (Mike He)…
        But on the other hand, I fell in love with the main actress.. She is just so likable.. I also fell in love with the family.. It’s like we become a part of their family too… We grew with them, cried with them, laughed with them…

        2. The Disguiser
        Heisui, you should definitely watch this.. I love this so much.. It’s the best of Hu Ge.. And the bromance is even better than the one in NIF.. I love Wang Kai better in this drama.. And for Jin Dong… OMG… He’s my new husband to be…. 🙂 I am so in love with him now… 🙂

        Hope this gives you an insight… 🙂 Thanks Heisui..

  • I am sad and satisfied at the ending… so conflicting. It was the most appropriate one but I still want to watch another 50 eps of ‘The Su Household’ – make it a sitcom! hahaha.

    As for the Emperor, I guess deep deep down he knows he was wrong, or at least he could’ve handled things better. (ie when he asked Jing Fei to secretly put up a memorial for Chen Fei) It would be way easier to just keep living the lie then to face the consequences. He even tried to justify it by saying becoming the Emperor corrupts people… when Jingyan becomes Emperor he will be just as ruthless. (so so wrong!!!)

    • Eh 54 episodes not enough for you, Kat? 😛 Yeah there are signs that the emperor already felt some guilt before he found out the truth. But it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to fully take responsibility for what he did, since he still made that excuse.

  • Great. i just cameback from Kat’s blog and i said im gonna re-run this drama after reading her article. and now.. i definitely have to re-run this drama. i really really really love this one.

    and for me personally, everything about this drama was beautiful. even with very minimalist romance, this drama was still beautiful in its own. my number 1 ‘revenge’ drama!

    i can’t choose between NIF and the disguiser since they had their own theme. this two <3

  • Great review! But there is no alternate ending. The production team has stated that the “alternate ending” was just a cut scene from the start and it happened before MCS went to the capital. He’s dead for sure.

  • Thanks for the recap! About the ending, I too wasn’t that sad when MCS died, but I did bawl for the ones he left behind. Jingyan, Nihuang, his friends from pugilist world. I just couldn’t imagine how devastated they must had been. As for MCS himself, I read somewhere that the producers did play with the idea of letting him live, but decided not to because they felt it would discredited the entire show. Which I don’t really get because I think the drama is about him trying to right the past which I think he would do anyway whether he’d die or not. But I guess the producers know their show better than me lol.

    Also, about Lin Shu/MCS duality. I also read it somewhere (maybe even in your blog?) that Hu Ge did say that MCS was not even a person, he was a manifestation of the ones who died 12 years ago to seek their justice. So I can see the duality there, as MCS wasn’t just Lin Shu’s ‘fake identity’. He didn’t even want people who knew him as Lin Shu to know the truth as he was afraid it would tarnish Lin Shu in their mind with all the scheming and manipulation MCS did. What MCS did, had strayed so far from a true warrior’s code, which Lin Shu used to be.

    Lastly, I kinda want to see a prequel about how Lin Shu morphed to Mei Chang Su. How he dealt with the betrayal at first, the changes of his body, how he created his sect (the name escaped me), and how he came to decision to clean his family’s name rather than killing everyone who betrayed him. I mean, all the things he did, even though not all justified and did cause some anguish to the people who had wronged him, was never out of hatred or intent to cause them suffer. And I’m pretty sure this is not the first mindset he had in mind when he woke up and found out that his family and his entire army had been wiped out.

    • I feel that if he really survived, yes, it would’ve discredited the story. It wouldn’t have been consistent if MCS had survived in the end because the entire drama had shown his poor deteriorating health. Yes there was also a quote where MCS says “Mei Changsu is not only Lin Shu, he also carries the burden of hope for 70,000 dead souls.” In the end I think MCS is still a person.

      I agree I’d like to have known the backstory to MCS. I feel like MCS wouldn’t want anyone to know what happened though. >_<

  • A wonderful show, very well done. This was a gem, it was hard to stop watching once started. The script, costumes, cinematography, acting, soundtrack, everything clicked. It had everything a drama watcher could hope for.

    Afterwards, I couldn’t finish watching 2 saeguks that I had put on hold while I finished NIF, they just couldn’t compare. Usually I’m somewhat wary of sequels, but I’d love to see a prequel of Lin Shu’s youth if they could reproduce the magic.

    One very minor sticking point were the ice beetles 0.o However, that being said, wuxia dramas generally have a fair amount of fantasy elements, so the beetles were relatively tame.

  • I really liked this part of your review: “The last aspect of Mei Changsu’s character that I’d like to address is his dual identity. The drama plays around a lot with this concept, with multiple scenes in which Mei Changsu affirms and denies his identity as Lin Shu. Though he speaks of Mei Changsu as a created identity that was a means to an end, he cannot simply discard it once he reaches his goal.”

    I didn’t initially love the conclusion with MCS riding off to battle… I think I got stuck on the surrealism of it. (Yet somehow I can accept the existence of the different magical medicines and poisons, and the martial arts moves, and the mystical sense I got from the very beginning that the story is fated to happen in a certain way.) Even if Lin Chen’s medicine was powerful, is it powerful enough to have MCS on a horse again? A guy who a few episodes ago could barely walk out of the Emperor’s Palace? It’s insane.

    Also, I don’t think it would be so bad for him to die as MCS. On the one hand, MCS is a schemer willing to do almost anything to achieve his goals. On the other hand, he still inspires devotion in Fei Liu (who never knew him as Lin Shu) and Lin Chen (who is a powerful man himself, and if he knew Lin Shu at all, it was probably by name only), and by extension we can assume the rest of the Jiangzuo Alliance. MCS’s actions resulted in people’s deaths, but the show clearly portrays him as a hero. How many apart from those who wronged the Chiyan Army 13 years ago, or who are themselves corrupt, did MCS really harm to bring Jingyan to the throne? I can only think of the official’s son who was killed at the music house near the beginning, though I’m sure there are (many) others. Even loyal and devoted and righteous Jingyan is happy to sacrifice innocent men for the causes he believes are just — how many would have died in the attempt to save Wei Zheng if Jingyan had done it his way?

    Ultimately, I think my hesitation about the ending comes from the following: Even after Jingyan learns who MCS is, MCS’s behavior doesn’t really change. One possibility is that he’s still holding back so as not to get Jingyan’s hopes up. Alternatively, he’s not holding back at all because he’s just not the same person anymore. While Lin Shu didn’t die in the battle at Mei Ling, the vibrant, happy young man he had been up to that time did die. MCS can’t be “Lin Shu” anymore because the Lin Shu in those flashbacks doesn’t exist. Apart from the injury that apparently scarred his forearm, what pain or despair did Lin Shu ever experience in his youth? Probably nothing. So for MCS to change his clothes and ride into battle, does that really make him Lin Shu again? Or does that just make him MCS in battle armor?

    Anyway, just some random thoughts because I’m in complete withdrawal. I tried to watch The Disguiser, but I got all mixed up when the NiF characters were all playing other people and couldn’t continue. Why were MCS and Xie Yu sitting by each other on the airplane?! At least Qin Banruo is still apparently a bad guy.

    • Interesting comment! Hm that’s a good point about how MCS might not have been holding back with Jingyan. I think he was more playful with Lin Chen though. I think Lin Shu must’ve had a transition period before he became MCS. Because it seems like the treatment and the recovery must’ve taken a long time. (Forgot the details…I think they mentioned it in one episode) The big difference between Lin Shu and MCS is that Lin Shu is supposedly “untainted” whereas MCS uses deception, lies, etc.

    • That guy who was killed in the dance house, in fact, killed a little brother of the girls, but since he was the son of the aristocrat and the boy was son of a dancer he wasn’t punished. They just wanted justice and Mei Chansu use him to catch the son of a minister who wasn’t good person either. Son of a minister was introduced in novel much earlier in the scene where MCS meet Tingsheng (it was different in the novel).

      • I forgot about that, Margarita — thanks for adding. So they really paint MCS to be a righteous guy. The only thing “wrong” with his methods is that he is manipulating others to help achieve a secret ultimate purpose, rather than being upfront about it.

        • Edit: Okay, MCS letting Prince Yu believe that he was helping him was pretty low-grade trickery, even if Prince Yu was happy at the time that MCS was bringing down the then-Crown Prince.

          • You are right. But as far as I remember MCS never directly say to prince Yu that he chose him as his master. It’s just that prince prefers to believe in that. Of course it doesn’t justify MCS actions, but at the same time he has only used prince Yu own wrongful deeds against him.

        • You wanna upfront tell the scheming princes your gonna crash down their power status?
          You wanna upfront tell the Emperor to announce his past evil deeds?
          You wanna upfront tell the Emperor to repent?
          Going by the story,
          IF your in any upfront move above:
          Off goes your head or
          make you drink poison.
          All friends you betrayed and
          Family ties you have Will die along.
          Whether they are 70,000 strong.

  • Wow, I am months late but…I love your posts on this one! Pretty insightful from angles I have not thought of when I watched the series.

    Anyways I think there’s a reason why Hu Ge is a very good choice as the actor portraying MCS. Hu Ge had a bad car accident years ago that disfigured the right side of his face (if you examine his right eyelid closely, you can see the scar). He himself cites that as a reason of why he went from just being “that pretty actor” to a more mature and developed actor. That’s a pretty big parallel with the fictional character of MCS, seeing as Also in the opening sequence you can sort of see a man’s face with bandages in the mass of water, and then it cuts to a butterfly emerging out of its cocoon. That bit is very symbolic of both the character’s life and the actor’s life as well.

    So in the end, I think the story is not just about striving for justice or impartiality in governing, it’s also about recovering from tragic events. In a way, it reminds me of this one quote from the book, “The Tale of Despereaux”, that goes: “there are those hearts, reader, that never mend again once they are broken”…”or if they do mend, they heal themselves in a crooked and lopsided way, as if sewn together by a careless craftsman”. Thankfully, this drama showed, with the characters of MCS, Jing Rui, Jing Yan, etc, that we will never change the tragedies that happened, but we can do our best to learn from them and grow as a person. That, in my opinion, is the most important theme of the show.

    • Woops I accidentally deleted half a sentence there…so I’ll just put it here: *seeing as MCS also was very unfortunate to have his whole body burned, partially eaten by bugs, and underwent a complete transformation in appearance*.

    • That’s a really interesting perspective on the theme! Although MCS & Co. never really fully recovered from the tragedy, they made a comeback and survived nonetheless.

  • Just finished ep. 47 today, which is the last (I know there’re 54 eps if not for our censorboard).

    We have the alternate ending where MCS’s fingers reached out for the tea cup.

    My oh my how fragile and exquisite those fingers are.

    With those fingers in mind, I actually had the idea that Lin Chen’s experimental green medicines had somehow changed MCS into a woman!

    MCS probably knew it (of his changing musculinity).

    Avoided GongYi like the plague and didn’t initiate any serious romance with NiHuang, citing burdens to his Evil-Empire-Collapse mission.

    That’s why we know of his secret request to XiaDong to handle NiHuang’s future romantic interests.

    He must raise up emotional barriers in his relationships with close friends, without distancing them.

    MCS’s lack of enthusiastic reunion with JingYan is a clear hold-back to prevent JingYan’s any gush of happy responses.

    Worst case is: if Jing Yan took MCS for his Empress or concubine.

    So much bromance existing already, why not? LOL

    Anyway,

    MCS had to plan a way out of this sticky situation, and

    the war attacks from the north provided his perfect escape plan.

    First, to secure a vital war victory for JingYan.

    Next, to live out his remaining short life with freedom.

    Away from both politics and chianghu.

    Away from the possibility of hurting his close friends.

    He must start maneuvering again, to contradictorily and obsessively reclaim LinShu’s unfinished duties.

    He must become an unruly and selfish LinShu.

    For MCS, he must get away from those he held dearest in the palace where he grew up.

    What if he didn’t die and come back a woman instead?

    How chaotic and cruel would this event become to his beloveds?

    This man MCS is too great a character.

    A fiercely loyal warrior/friend/lover/teacher and

    A morally unequalled and daring master genius strategist. So reminding me of ZhuGeLiang of The Three Kingdom.

    In the story, whether he died finally or became a woman, only LinChen and FeiLiu will know.

    That’s the ending of NIF for me.

    Thank you.

  • Hi, Heisui, I read your recaps for Sound of the Desert and really enjoyed them! Now I’m back after marathon watching Nirvana in Fire for the past two weeks. I think NIF is the best Chinese historical drama I’ve ever seen…not sure if I can watch anything else after this one. The characters, plotting, and pacing were superb. Each episode zoomed by. I do wish they would reveal what happened to MCS’s illness a little earlier in the drama, and not wait till episode 50 or so. This is a drama about friendship and justice, and will stay with me for a long time. I enjoyed your recaps!

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