Episode one opens with a narrator telling us that the Song dynasty is currently fighting against (Da Liao). An elderly woman continues to narrate the current political movements of the government. Da Liao is also enemies with Da Jin, which has also fought against China at some point (all I keep thinking about right now is Wan Yan Hong Lie from the Condor Heroes). I don’t fully understand the need for the male narrator to start off with a few sentences and then the grandma to continue in the story set up, but maybe her character actually has a legitimate role?
Since Song soldiers recently lost in a battle against Liao soldiers, a Song general (Liu Ge) rides towards the Jin camp to ask for help. Although the Jin general is dismissive of Liu Ge and his two followers, one of the followers quickly captures his attention with his fearless attitude. This young man would be Yue Fei, who takes an arrow to the cheek as a sort of punishment for speaking out of rank. Yue Fei even has the gall to insist on returning the favor….from a greater distance. The Jin general shows no signs of fear as he tells his subordinates that he is confident Yue Fei will miss. He ducks at the last minute, as the arrow whizzes through the recently empty space.
As Liu Ge dashes back to the losing battle, he tries to dispatch his followers to find reinforcements. Yue Fei refuses to leave, and his buddy Wang Gui sticks with him, so everyone stays to help. However, it’s a lost battle, so Yue Fei leads the group in saving the generals (other one who stayed to fight was Tong Guan) and retreating. Just as they’re surrounded by Liao soldiers, a large group of Jin soldiers appear and chase off the Liao. As the Jin general passes by, Yue Fei looks at him in gratitude (are those tears? I hope those are manly tears).
The other rescued general reports to a senior official (I think this is the Song Prime Minister), apologizing for the shameful loss but bringing the ‘good’ news that the Jin soldiers have taken the Yan Jing (city they were guarding). The senior official understands that this means that Song will have to buy back the land from Jin. He reports this to the Song Emperor, who looks a bit weathered and raggedy. Once the senior official mentions the lack of government funds, the Emperor gives a weary sigh.
Meanwhile, Liu Ge wakes up, happily surprised that he could have survived the battle. He asks Yue Fei how he felt about his first battle against the baddie Liao soldiers (what it was his first battle?! He must be younger than I thought…). Yue Fei replies that when he looked into the eyes of the dying enemy soldiers, his weapon suddenly felt very heavy in his hand. He wishes that he won’t kill anymore. In response, Liu Ge comforts him, saying that the troubled times is a great time for strong youth like him to rise up and lead the Song army.
Sitting in his tent, the Jin leader laughs as his general tells him of the Song army’s sorry battle. The Jin soldiers had to save them from their common enemy, the Liao. The Jin leader (his subordinates call him emperor, but I don’t want to mix this up with Song’s emperor) looks down upon the weak and frivolous Song government.
Aaaaand in the Song camp, Yue Fei is washing himself with his army buddies. He tries to help Wang Gui wash his wound, but Wang Gui twists away because…he’s ticklish? Everyone laughs that men who are ticklish will be afraid of their wives. After playing in the shower, the boys head off to escort the Song ambassador to negotiations with Jin. OOH, look who just appeared! I sense some romance coming our way.
Li Xiao E is handed an amulet? looking object by her teacher, who she calls mom. I’m gonna take a guess and say it’s some matchmaking trinket that’s going to represent fate. Suddenly, some bandits run in and hold the women hostage inside the temple. Yue Fei and his men hears the commotion and looks over. Just kidding, they’re not bandits, they’re rogue soldiers.
BOOM, Yue Fei flies through the window and rescues the fair maidens from the bandits, even grabbing arrows out of the air. I know, WTF, but just roll with it. Xiao E even gets a kick in. LOL at the hero music. Yue Fei grabs Xiao E as Wang Gui grabs Xiao Hui (Xiao E’s servant girl) out of harm’s way.
I think Xiao E’s mom was killed in that scuffle, because next thing we know, she’s joined Yue Fei’s entourage. Is it just me, or does this look strangely like a General Shang moment from Mulan 2 (except there’s no Mulan). Yue Fei heads off ahead in the gourge to see if there’s any danger. Of course, as soon as he leaves, some bandits run off to report that there are targets to rob. Yue Fei goes back to camp and reports to the ambassador that there’s no danger, but tells Wang Gui that there are 30 bandits in the mountains. The next day, the bandits charge at an empty tent. Yue Fei pops up and fights them all. He’s kind of inhuman with his spear.
Sorry guys, I just realized a big challenge for me when recapping this drama….the translation of certain terms to English. Especially in a war drama like this, there’ll be plenty of political and military positions, and I’ll do my best to translate those over. However, my vocabulary for military positions will probably be limited to general, follower, foot soldier, etc. If the slight difference in ranks (between generals and such) affect the scene, then I will make note of that. Thanks for your patience!
Along the same vein, I realize these recaps might be coming out slower than I thought they would. I’m trying to get a good grasp of when to take screenshots and what information to include in the recaps. Given the length of this drama (and in the interest of my time), future recaps will be shorter and I’ll gloss over scenes that don’t interest me. Bet on multiple screenshots from the romantic side stories. And any scenes that make me squeal over the jawlines of certain actors. Or just body parts in general of said actors.
One of the things that annoyed me right off the bat is Yue Fei’s voice. I’m not 100% sure that they dubbed Huang Xiao Ming or not, but that voice is just not…manly enough for my image of Yue Fei. Then again, Huang Xiao Ming’s voice isn’t exactly gruff and deep so maybe he isn’t dubbed. Either way, I don’t think the voice suits the character. Call me petty and shallow, but I’m actually bothered by it. It reminds me of Wei Xiao Bao (Huang Xiao Ming’s past role)…so I guess it is his real voice.