“Go Princess Go” Review – Episode Eighteen: “The Dark Knight and the Shawshank Contemplation”on September 30, 2016 at 10:13 am
So welcome to the halfway mark of the episode reviews (or at least recaps) of Go Princess Go. There are 35 episodes formally in this series but there’s three alternate endings which we’ll go into in what will be called Episode 36 (Viki.com also has an episode 36 for this purpose, so it fits). Now, if you’re one of the select few reading this, you’ve not only possibly gotten to see a show which isn’t entirely dissimilar to Exiern, you’ve also gotten a small window into seeing the first shots of the battle over the direction of Exiern’s future in its 12th year and beyond.
Just a small reward for all of you who’ve had the patience to stick with this so far. There’s more to this than just a more or less regular wall of text going up in the Announcement Section each week. So it’s all going to be a very exciting time going forward but don’t tell Scott I said anything!
Anyway, keep your eyes out for future clues on the big picture but for now, on with the show.
The Shawshank Redemption is the number one movie on IMDB.com more often than not (presently it is winning its never-ending duel with The Godfather), it was actually based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, which itself I believe is most often found in the book compilation “Different Seasons” (one of the two other stories was made into the film of the same name Apt Pupil which in the book ends with someone yelling “I’m king of the world!” before trying to snipe people with a rifle, believe it or not.
This was written long before Titanic but the film was made afterwards. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m guessing that scene didn’t make it into the movie, somehow). Different Seasons is a very good book and definitely worth seeking out, especially if you want some shorter works as entry into the works of Stephen King.
Maybe not as well known a fact as it should be but the story was written by Stephen King. So much more than only writing in the field of clear-cut horror, he also wrote “The Body” (also in the compilation “Different Seasons”) which may well be better known in the form of the movie version Stand by Me.
Then there’s The Running Man (made into a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger). Basically, what I’m trying to say is that not only is Stephen King prolific, his work isn’t restricted to one particular type or genre. He turns up in all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect (including as an encounter in other people’s biographies that you wouldn’t associate with him either.) This all becomes marginally relevant later, as always.
This episode largely steps away from the ongoing machinations of the main plot. So anyway, not a huge lot to say about this one (but I’m sure I’ll find a way somehow). So, we start off with different machinations, mainly that of setting up the arranged marriage of perennial sky-pilot Yang Yan (hasn’t he ever heard of just walking into a room?).
First off, Yang Yan spies who he assumes is his bride to be. Initial impressions are very favorable indeed. Until it’s implied that his future bride is standing elsewhere and happens to have both the bad skin and the bad teeth that might be less of a draw. Yang Yan seems very likely to vomit and does try a less than successful recovery until he learns his first impression was actually the right one and it was his future bride-to-be’s idea of “a joke”. I guess the question has to be, on whom.
Well, after that bit of appearance and class shaming by the Upper classes (one has to wonder how the revolution eventually happened, doesn’t it?) Zhang Peng has since appeared on the scene and says he’ll sort this out. As from when we first saw him, we know he’s a man who definitely liked the ladies and it didn’t seem like he’d have set up a fellow guy with someone he himself would definitely have steered clear of. Then there’s the fact that Yang Yan had actually been doing drop-in deliveries at his time of need. So all up, it seems like it would have been most out of character for him to have been anything but straight with this arranged match.
Zhang Peng sounds out the first impressions of Yang Yan from Zhang Ling Ling. He says he knows the look that Zhang Ling Ling has (well, he would, wouldn’t he?) and certainly comes across as thinking this is a good sign. Zhang Ling Ling does in fact think things are off to a good start but also wants to see that Yang Yan is a man who reads poems and books (so at least some education and thirst for knowledge) and well as being good at martial arts and is healthy and strong (well, about those landings for starters).
Sure he can do all that says Zhang Peng less than convincingly before saying to himself (but not inner monologue) that he can’t. Zhang Ling Ling responds with a what? as Zhang Peng clearly said the quiet part just a bit too loud. He quickly does manage to bury that line of inquiry, though.
Cue some analog of the Rocky montage starting with Yang Yan dropping out of the sky and scaring the eunuchs. Why are you doing that in the day? is a reasonable question from Zhang Peng (an even better one to ask would be why at all?) and then we find ourselves in some approximation of a Rocky montage where Yang Yan reads books to learn (less than convincingly) and tries to move bricks (even less convincingly). We get to see dropping bricks on his fingers and mashing them horribly as well as stabbing himself in a seemingly futile attempt to commit classic literature to memory.
We cut to Zhang Peng eating more durians, everyone else being quite emphatic in their refusals when offered any, Zhang Ling Ling is just the latest in a long line of these. And equally emphatically saying it smells like “poop”. I guess the makers figured they had enough with that side of the training montage as Yang Yan is suddenly saying he’s ready and looking very confident (looks like they skipped the whole improvement side of the montage). He also has a similar opinion on the durians including both his thoughts on consumption and its smell.
At some point, in order to demonstrate his newfound strength and agility, after getting bored with tossing baskets of bricks like they were nothing (looking as they were made of styrofoam rubber, they mostly probably were), he spins Lu Li around in the air in a respectable demonstration of rag-doll physics and then manages to have them both fall over. So, we’re not quite there yet.
Because Zhang Ling Ling’s mother has died (seems to have been a lot of that going on in this family – though death is a good way to manage a limited casting budget), Zhang Peng’s mother has the honor of that position (as well as presumably for Zhao’s Wife – and look at the thanks she gets for raising her, then).
She’s not terribly impressed that Yang Yan (now) has some book learning and (better honed as in hopefully at least slightly less likely to fall over at an inopportune moment) physical ability. She says those are just normal traits. Well, at least they got him to the starting gate of the race if nothing else, so to speak. She says he just has to be a “true man” (one of those loaded meanings of the word ‘just’ which usually leads to it being anything but).
One obligatory joke at his expense about his closeness to the Ninth Prince later and an assurance that they’re “just good friends” later, we find out that what Zhang Peng’s mother had in mind was a drinking contest. We have some very hard men in attendance for this. Apparently the 4th, 5th, and 6th brothers of the Zhang family have been selected for a drink-off. Supposedly, the 6th brother used to be the 7th but got a promotion after the original 6th died from alcohol poisoning by the sounds of this.
Now Zhang Peng knows a thing or two about a good party and even he thinks this is a bad idea (mind you, if he’d known a thing or two more, he could have avoided all of this whole mess). Zhang Ling Ling kicks off proceedings by showing she can hold her liquor quite well too courtesy of how much she can imbibe through her special bamboo straw. The latest bit of wisdom uttered about this seemingly ill advised course of action is that drinking “a little” can make you happy. Zhang Peng tells Yang Yan that he’s on his own here.
The next smash cut shows that somehow, amazingly, Yang Yan won. He’s also very smashed. As in he’s very, very drunk. Everyone looks very embarrassed about this whole chain of events, it’s increasingly looking like it was a very bad idea indeed. The winning move by Yang Yan was when it looked like he was about to vomit but he was able to swallow it. Everyone else is out at this point and vomiting quite freely on their own (if you’re watching this while eating, maybe you should wait until you’re finished … I supposed this warning would have been more help earlier, wouldn’t it?)
Yang Yan then goes and drinks even more by all but pouring it over his head and then goes mad. He jumps in a barrel full of water and shrieks that he can’t swim. Zhang Peng tells his mother by proxy in effect look what you’ve gone and done and looking suitably embarrassed, she says, OK, you’re in, welcome to the family. At which point, Yang Yan finally throws up – and out – and all over his own future (for all intents and purposes) mother-in-law. For now, we leave Yang Yan as he lives the dream, getting accepted into the family he’s marrying into, throwing up on in effect his mother-in-law and most importantly, getting away with it.
We now cut to the never-ending drama of the Emperor Qi Sheng and the ongoing saga of the wife he once again started talking an interest in but has been rebuffed at every turn so far. That murder plot of his to have his wife killed might have had something to do with it, we suspect. His wife now being a man from the future even if Qi Sheng doesn’t know it can’t exactly be helping either.
Qi Sheng challenges Zhang Peng as to why he’s sleeping all day. Zhang Peng counters that he’s been busy doing important stuff. The counter to that counter is that Qi Sheng doesn’t find organizing weddings and marathon drinking sessions to be important, in fact he finds it quite stupid, actually.
I have to admit that argument isn’t totally without merit especially since we’ve seen the end results. Qi Sheng then shows all this literature that’s been brought with him with the dubious claim that reading it will help the yet to be born infant develop and learn or something like that according to the royal physician’s advice, allegedly (so we know it’s dubious). A ridiculous idea, though one that’s been around even through to the present day despite a complete lack of evidence it works.
Zhang Peng takes the hint and promises to stop loafing around the palace grounds, especially when the threat is made to bring it a tutor. Heaven forbid Zhang Peng has to do any actual work (I’m definitely doubling down on my guess of IT from last week). Qi Sheng shows he isn’t completely gullible and drops the idea now that got what he really wanted.
He then goes in for the kill and suggests embroidery as a compromise. Zhang Peng isn’t very keen on this idea (read: not keen at all) and the requisite verbal sparring between these twotakes place.
Zhang Peng rhetorically asks if Qi Sheng is at all worried that his potential future son (assuming it’s a son regardless of the certainly of the Emperor as to how this is going to turn out) is going to turn out at all effeminate based on the whole reading influences character in the womb logic. Qi Sheng seems offended by the very idea. I think there’s something you need to know about your wife is my response to that.
Qi Sheng instructs Zhang Peng to embroider a pouch for him as a compromise to not actually, you know, actually work at learning stuff (and also a compromise on the compromise of learning more of the art of embroidery). Apparently it’s some sort of love token according to the very helpful fan subtitles (no way you’d get these gems of cultural information with professional ones). He says he’ll be back in five days for it and leaves.
Zhang Peng declares to no-one in particular as he’s now alone that he’s a real man and how can he sew a pouch? Final proof of his real man status is throwing a large tantrum at this latest imposition. Arms and legs flailing while he’s on his back and everything like an overturned turtle.
I should add at this point that even though the character’s appearance has seemed to be fluctuating from scene over the episodes since the news was broken (maybe it was just the angles the character was viewed from and how they were dressed, perhaps and not continuity maintenance problems?), Zhang Peng is definitely looking unambiguously heavily pregnant at this point. Yet another blow to reasserting his manhood if one was needed.
Back now to Zhang Peng getting a hold of Zhang Ling Ling to find out if anything he’s done lately has worked out. Apart from the requisite complaints about how bad the durian he’s eating is smelling, we are able to learn that Zhang Ling Ling is happy with the choice of Yang Yan as a potential marriage partner.
Zhang Peng makes it clear that it’s definitely an added bonus of an arranged marriage to unify the Zhang Clan and the Yang Clan is that she likes the person she’s being married to. She says that she did think he was beautiful at first sight but that she must resist (until she made sure he was suitable all around one surmises).
Zhang Peng concludes that was a compliment. He then offers some of his own (we think). Firstly he says he’s been here a long time now and that Zhang Ling Ling is the first beautiful smart girl he’s met (epic burn on everyone else, though I guess). Then he says he must resist falling for her. Now that’s potentially a bit gross but to be fair, this is the first woman that Zhang Peng has actually shown no signs of making any moves on outside the obvious exceptions. Which is also a relief as she looks extremely young, even compared to much of the rest of the cast of this drama. Well, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt for once.
Then comes some more resistance in the turning down of the durian Zhang Peng offers Zhang Ling Ling several more times. I’m sure it must taste nice if people eat it despite the smell but the smell must really be bad to have such legendary status as well.
When asked about what is so appealing about Yang Yan (something I’m sure we’re all curious about too because … well, you know … it’s Yang “Never met a failed landing he didn’t like” Yan. If he was a pilot, you’d think twice before flying with him, that’s for sure.
Apparently, the whole flying on roofs and walking up walls held its appeal once she got past mistaking him for a thief in the night. She even says it’s cute and to please not try and change it. As Zhang Ling Ling says, the whole man in black wherever there is danger he’ll be there (causing it presumably, we think if anyone asked us).
Zhang Peng says in effect that even before there was Batman that girls clearly like Batman. Given he has yet to be created (and won’t be for some time), Zhang Ling Ling reasonably asks “Who is Batman?” and the answer is “Batman is Batman.”
Around this point in the narrative, we see Yang Yan descending from the skies dressed in black and looking a lot like Batman. Suspiciously so actually, as he wearing a T-Shirt which clearly has the Batman logo on it. This might just be Zhang Peng imagining the scene but you never know with this show.
To complete Zhang Peng’s perceptions of Yang Yan being someone who can’t quite stick the landing, we get to see him fall over on landing, too – and then picked up by a gust of wind and blown away in a tangle of arms and legs. Added bonus, post-production missed a few frames and we get to see the wires holding him up as he descends before they abruptly turn transparent and then disappear.
That’s actually not such a bad explanation (it’s certainly up there with “Because I’m Batman” which gets a lot of airplay and not just in How it Should Have Ended all the time, either. Even all the movies that nominally seem to have nothing to do with Batman (but that doesn’t matter … because he’s Batman. He always finds a way).
Cut back yet again to the latest shot in the passive-aggressive battle between Zhang Peng and Qi Sheng (well, when they’re not being flat out aggressive, that is). Qi Sheng is doing some flower arranging because, well, why not? He asks Zhang Peng (who of course enters singing badly some modern pop song or other) to point out which one is the most beautiful, after which Zhang Peng points out the one he thinks is the most beautiful flower.
Qi Sheng promptly snips it off on the grounds that flower arrangement is about group beauty. Just the same could be said about socialism being done wrong and dragging everyone down to the same level (yes, there’s a right way to do socialism, just ask Scandinavia more often than not).
Clearly a case of shots fired and Zhang Peng saying to us beyond the Fourth Wall “So I’m a show off?” (well, yes, yes you are) followed by the rather cryptic (at least to me) “at least I did my homework”. Zhang Peng doesn’t let this rattle him for too long if at all and then asks Qi Sheng if he’ll agree to the marriage (I’m guessing at this level, it needs the Emperor to sign off on it) and to really twist the knife Zhang Peng points out that this sort of pure love is rare as he returns fire if I may mix metaphors and weapon types.
Zhang Peng barely has time to launch into his explanation and counter to forthcoming objections when Qi Sheng says OK then. That was remarkably easy. Zhang Peng then punches Qi Sheng as a between guys (even if Qi Sheng doesn’t know it) thank you.
There’s a price, though. In return, Zhang Peng has to (in Qi Sheng’s eyes) stop goofing off and actually remain in Xi Sheng palace. So, Zhang Peng is effectively grounded. Cut to something we haven’t seen for a while, where we get another one of those surreal tellings of the show’s current events via black and white show reels like the first episode’s failed suicide attempts that Zhang Peng was gambling on returning him to his own time – well at least until he realized there was a much greater likelihood that it would leave him dead. Once again, we remind you that you can’t believe everything you see on TV.
It’s titled “Zhang Peng’s Redemption” (I told you that whole segue into the works of Stephen King was marginally relevant) and we find Zhang Peng in those white pajamas (clearly also from the future as we’ve said before) and after bemoaning his fate at being grounded (I guess the prison cell is a metaphor for this), he eventually tunnels out through the floor with his hair pins, all the time while smoking a cigar. Why ask why? Understandably, Rita Hayworth is nowhere to be seen.
A presumed pearl of wisdom from Zhang Peng (they’re very rare) follows “A man’s life can be summed up in one simple choice. Either you work hard to live or you rush into your death.” Yes, to be honest, I don’t quite get how it applies here either. Or what it means in general. If I work it out later, I’ll be sure to let you all know. Suggestions are also welcome, I strongly suspect I’m going to need some help on working out the meaning of this one.
Anyway, in this imagined scene? fever dream? drug trip? Zhang Peng does manage to tunnel out, only to find Qi Sheng at the tunnel exit, spinning around to confront him and stomping on his head and laughing maniacally like a cartoon villain.
Cut back to real life such that it is (and colour) and we find Zhang Peng both groveling and grabbing onto the legs of Qi Sheng and begging Qi Sheng not to ground him, he’ll even stay home and not leave. Yes, I’m confused at how promising not to leave if he’s not grounded works exactly since isn’t that effectively the same thing?
Qi Sheng understandably is looking down at this in utter bewilderment and starts shaking his head at all this and leaves. Zhang Peng suddenly finds himself alone and then sitting up with a start and asking himself “Why am I here? Did I have a stroke?”
I feel like that myself almost every time I watch this show.
Until next time … see you then.