Relax everyone, it’s just the title of a Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds film, which itself was adapted from a Broadway musical.
And of course, we’re not in Texas anymore. Oh wait, that film was referring to Kansas. Close enough?
The end of the last episode saw Zhang Peng and the ever suffering personal assistant (even more so since Zhang Peng took up residence in the Crown Princess’s body) getting dressed up in the most manly of clothes they could find, much to Lu Li’s perplexity (get used to this, it happens a lot with her as she confuses very easily).
Turns out, that was a distraction so that Zhang Peng could ditch her and make his way to the local brothel, which is evident even without the handy translation of the sign (thank you, the volunteer subtitling team, though in this case it’s quite obvious from the outset what kind of establishment this is without me having to spell it out or it being essential to be able to read Chinese characters).
Having given up on the suicide kick for now on account of being a complete and utter failure at it, Zhang Peng decides he might as well make the most of it, though mysteriously he did balk at an opportunity to be soaped up by one of the other wives of the Crown Prince he’d ‘just happened’ to invite himself to have a bath with. I guess he can dish it out but he can’t take it. Story of his life I guess, which is how he ended up in that swimming pool in the first place I suppose.
Anyway, after some initial confusion with the brothel madam thinking Zhang Peng is there to try and catch an errant husband (well, the husband in question is errant but everyone already knows that), and Zhang Peng learning that just because the women in Chinese historical dramas he’s seen are able to disguise themselves as men and get away with it doesn’t mean it works in real life, as he’s rumbled immediately by the brothel madam aiming for centre mass; but they come to an arrangement where money changes hands after the madam gets that (as far as she can tell), Zhang Peng’s a woman with “special interests.” I can’t say I’ve heard it called that before.
I’m not going to say anything about what happens next on the grounds that even given some of the strange stuff that happens in this webcomic, this is some next level stuff (those bricks look plenty painful though).
Cut to another trip to the bathroom (just three episodes in and we’ve probably seen more toilets than the entire run of the TV series 24).
Keeping up the ruse through habit more than conscious effort, Zhang Peng drunkenly stumbles into the men’s room and finds himself in a stall. He discovers a) his penis still hasn’t come back, and b) he’s in the adjacent stall to the Ninth Prince (small world, isn’t it?). He stumbles back out in short order in a drunken haze. Cue the next day when Zhang Peng is back at the palace engaging in the safer for him – but still morally questionable behavior – of suggestively manhandling his assistant.
After an announcement from the palace eunuchs that the Crown Prince is back (presumably he’s finished thinking about all the bad things he’s done and has been allowed home), everyone’s been asked to assemble to greet his return as if he had just achieved something, as opposed to undergoing the historical equivalent.
This gives Zhang Peng another chance to work down the line and cop another feel, including the wives he hadn’t had a chance to catch up with. Lu Li is especially confused by all this attention her mistress is paying to the other wives given that, prior to the drowning incident, she showed no inclination to have anything to do with any of them – even having one of them planked 20 times for some transgression or other. I don’t know what that is but it certainly sounds painful.
Then Stoney Face McStonyson appears (seriously, the Crown Prince looks like he could be carved out of the best top quality marble) with enhancements courtesy of some strategic lighting and the omnipresent wind machine. It’s also the first appearance of some ungainly contraption made out of wood that the upper class seem to wear into battle that has no purpose I can fathom. Suggestions most welcome.
Not for the first time, Zhang Peng commits a massive social faux pas by thinking the Crown Prince wants a hug because he’s just standing there with his arms outstretched when in fact he just wanted wife number one to take his armor off.
Things remain frosty at this point.
Cut to the Crown Prince having to make nice with his wife in front of the Empress, lest he be banished yet again. He even cracks a smile or two and it’s a terrifying sight to behold. Watching him trying to be affectionate is quite possibly the most awkward thing you’ll ever see, too – provided you haven’t fled at this point.
Segue into a gag, which I imagine is Chinese region specific, about how a man wearing a green hat means his wife is cheating on him. Of course it’s Prince Zhao who’s wearing one and Zhang Peng is in literal hysterics, especially when the Empress suggests one be made for the Crown Prince as well.
Presumably, this meaning didn’t come into use until sometime in the relative future because everyone else is wondering what one Earth is wrong with the Crown Princess this time.
Cue a cascade of escalating embarrassment. First Zhao’s wife and the Crown Prince brazenly remain standing and locking eyes with each in public, another when the Empress leaves because she has to leave to “take care of her skin.” Prince Zhao can’t get his wife to sit down and Zhang Peng in one of his inner-monologue-fourth-wall-breakers really doesn’t want to get involved.
Then suddenly the Ninth Prince enters. Cue mass swooning among the Crown Prince’s wives and peak lighting and wind machine as he puts the ‘pretty’ back into ‘pretty boy.’ Yes, the same Ninth Prince Zhang Peng was in an adjacent stall at a brothel and probably the literal last place you’d expect to stumble into the Crown Princess and your sister-in-law. Now cue the requisite “This is awkward.”
The Ninth Prince being as cool as he looks seemingly isn’t fazed and proposes a toast to his sister-in-law, but it’s only at this point the Crown Prince feels the need to defend his wife’s ‘honor’ (if it wasn’t obvious by now, this guy is a major jerk).
Next thing we know, there’s a drink off straight out of the movie Beerfest, the Crown Prince’s wives are cheering on the Ninth Prince, the eunuchs are cheering on the Crown Prince, the wives start beating the eunuchs, the eunuchs point out they’re the Crown Prince’s wives, the wives realize oh right and then start cheering on the actual man they’re married to. If you hadn’t realized already, this show is nuts. Zhang Peng has already excused himself in an aside to the audience from this chaos to the bathroom.
This time, it’s the Ninth Prince’s turn to stumble into the wrong bathroom and both he and Zhang Peng finally have that conversation about why they were both in the same brothel at the same time. The Ninth Prince claims it was just business and Zhang Peng is like, Sure it was. He claims he has a witness to this but none of this is sounding terribly convincing, not that Zhang Peng cares. In one of those narrative jumps we’re getting used to now, we’re out in the woods and finding a very enthusiastic Zhang Peng expecting a clandestine meeting with Lu Li after a supposed message from her to meet there. Zhang Peng things he’s going to get lucky. Unfortunately, both he and the audience are both disappointed when a mysterious previously unseen man turns up instead.
Any disappointment is at least partially made up for as said mystery man points out another clandestine meeting going on between Zhao’s Wife and…the Crown Prince. With all the emoting of a literal block of wood (deliberate acting choice though), he reassures his mistress that he hasn’t started to like his wife because he was suddenly being nice to her, it was just all for show and even the supposed defending of his wife’s honor was just to embarrass his brother and the Ninth Prince instead. What a capital J jerk, hey?
Not that Zhang Peng or the mystery man care as they watch on unseen while hiding behind a bush, right up to the point where they’re offering a running commentary on proper romantic etiquette before breaking out into chanting “Kiss” “Kiss” “Kiss” “Kiss” like they’re at a drunken frat party or something. Of course they get rumbled for being too noisy and Zhang Peng ends up being sent to his room again as if he’d been the one doing something wrong.
And that’s where we find ourselves at the end of the episode, with Zhang Peng storming off and the mystery man stuck up a tree minus his pants or historical equivalent.