Oh great, managed to fail to include the link to Life on Mars for last week, when it especially would have helped the Ashes to Ashes opening sequence make more sense. Relevant here because it’s about possible time travel via head injury.
“My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home.
Interesting fun fact if I’m remembering this right, Sam Tyler was originally scripted to be called Sam Williams but the daughter of one of the people involved in making it liked Tyler from Rose Tyler in Doctor Who – and here we are.
Right then, on with the actual show these reviews are actually supposed to be about (told you I was going to try and at least make these shorter). The title of this week’s review refers to the book and film about the life of Michelangelo, who of course made the extremely famous sculpture of David. It also refers to the amount of agony the scale model is causing. The ecstasy part is in extremely short supply as the literal stuff by that name has yet to be invented and even though there’s plenty of attempts to do nice things for various people during, the success in creating any could be rated as marginal as best.
Zhang Peng is skulking about now that all of his attempts to intercept the scale model replica of Michelangelo’s David. Two other points worth noting are what on Earth did they do with his hair and what on earth is he wearing. Attempting to describe either wouldn’t do them justice but they definitely have to be seen to be believed. Luckily, there’s Dramakiwi for still images and the actual episode for that.
Looks like no-one’s seen it yet (does no-one even look at the things they buy and does that really look like a covered vase?) but it’s only a matter of time. Everyone looks suitably shocked, appalled and away because it’s the statue of a naked man and Zhang Peng missed two great opportunities here. Either to flee, or even better, as the former Empress is still giving a speech about what she thinks she’s unveiled grab it and run off. You have to keep an eye out for these opportunities in life, stay sharp and be ready to seize them at a moment’s notice as sometimes they don’t last long.
So, eventually the former Empress sees it and reacts in an appropriately over the top reaction that seems to be all the rage these days … those days … whatever. Long story short, Zhang Peng takes the blame but in such a way as to make it look like he was taking the fall for someone else. Not surprisingly, Qi Sheng, the former Crown Prince and now Emperor who’s getting sold out this time. Though, given all the other terrible things he’s actually done, it seems fair enough.
Now Zhang Peng and Qi Sheng may be the acting in the roles of Empress and Emperor now (especially in Zhang Peng’s case for many obvious reasons as we know) but there’s a lot of deference shown to the wife of the former Emperor (and a fair amount of fear as she’s quite formidable). Zhang Peng let’s it get teased out of him ‘reluctantly’ that Qi Sheng actually procured it to help with the ‘mood’ and that it was a statue of a Western saint for bearing children. It doesn’t take a master scientist to join those dots. Zhang Peng promises that they’re “trying really hard” and expects results “soon” once the former Empress does just that.
And with that, he’s managed to avert one immediate disaster now by leaping out of the frying pan he was in and into a much bigger fire looming on the horizon very soon indeed. Well, we all know he was never the brightest spark, hence how he ended up in this whole mess in the first place. However, from his point of view, a disaster deferred seems to count as some sort of success and given how few of those he’s been having lately of any shade, I suppose we could let him have this one for as long as it lasts. You just know this is ultimately going to end badly, though.
The obligatory word from our sponsor works its way into the plot at this point as not only are aphrodisiacs mentioned at great length, quite blatant allusions to the word “armor” and the actual word Armor (which would happen to be the name of said company that makes Chinese Viagra) crops up a few times. The bonus in the subtitles is the explanation from the fans about all of this. You won’t see that level of detail from the commercially creates ones generally.
Anyway, time to move on from this shameless plug, though I guess if they’re helping to guarantee that this production gets made in the first place, it’s a price worth paying. Though you’d never see Exiern stooping to this level, so keep that in mind when the launch of the Exiern Lifestyle and Health Tips Blog comes …
Zhang Peng has managed to finally extricate himself from the former Empress after really going overboard with the dutiful grand-daughter act. Seriously, I’d be hard pressed to think of where I’d seen more obsequious fawning. On the other hand, his dignity did leave the building some time ago, probably even before his penis given what we saw of him even at the very beginning of the show, so there’s that.
Already having come down with a headache after complex web of deception he’s built, he does remark to Lu Li as he gets her to massage all the tension out of him that at least it’s good to be the King (and Queen) and how useful that is. Of course that means there’s going to be a say his name and he shall appear moment. He promptly boots out everyone who isn’t the Empress because they need to have “words”. He could be mad but as we know, it’s so hard to tell with him even at the best of times what he’s thinking, or feeling.
Remarkably, it turns out that Qi Sheng hasn’t looked the now recovered object that was ‘returned’ to him as he asks Zhang Peng what it is and why is his grandmother saying she’s returning it to its ‘rightful owner’ and why he shouldn’t take the cover off until the two of them are alone. The former Empress clearly still holds a lot of sway over her grandson as she asked him not to look at it and even though he’s now the Emperor, he did not.
Realizing he has a remarkable stroke of luck, Zhang Peng suddenly yells “Eye gunk!”, all but leaps on the increasingly wide-eyed Qi Sheng to remove that crusty build-up we all get on occasion (though it’s debatable if there was any present at that time) and then ‘accidentally’ elbow the covered replica of David off the table and shatter it into a number of unrecognizable pieces, all punctuated by a scream on a par with that of his original arrival and discovering his anatomy had been reconfigured somewhat.
“Please do not let anything happen anymore/My brain cells are used up/My acting skills are used up.” comes to us via Zhang Peng’s real inner (and former outer) voice though if history is anything to go by, it’s going to be a rather forlorn hope. Qi Sheng seems to not be bothered by this breakage nor the following theatrics (Zhang Peng seems to have thrown himself a bit too enthusiastically into the ditzy female role, it has to be said, time to wind it back at least a notch, you’d think).
He also brings an end to the whole saga of Qiang’s misdirected letter to Lu Li, remarks on the fact there’s a lot of deliveries going where they shouldn’t and that Zhang Peng is being left to fix the problem. All in all, I guess it all counts as some sort of a win and respite for our main character? At least until the next inevitable disaster. You know it’s only a matter of time.
Lu Li and Qiang are conversing outside where they’ve both been banished while all this was going on. Something about fruit, I think. Lu Li’s being terrible to him as always, I actually think she might be some kind of terrible person. Qi Sheng lets him know that the rule about keeping three meters away has been cancelled, presumably now that this mishap with his misdirected letter has been sorted out.
I’m glad all those plotlines are closed (or closing) as they weren’t exactly my favorites. However, we cut to another of my less favorite people, Zhao’s Wife, as she dances around her abode for no particular reason. Though, I guess the whole point of the character is to be quite unlikeable, so success, I guess? The delivery service appears and announces the Emperor is here. Without waiting for elaboration (why would a delivery service be announcing the arrival of the Emperor as he’s not a parcel?), she races off to beautify herself only to be informed on her return that the arrival of a parcel from the Emperor is considered the same as his actual presence. It’s symbolism, you fool!
Another important life lesson, stop and think before acting impulsively, especially when they’re in the middle of delivering information. Wait until you’re sure they’ve finished talking and then carefully consider what they’re saying before acting. Rules to live by, I would think as it could definitely save people from embarrassment if they tried practicing this more often.
The delivery guy compounds this disaster by offering his two cents worth about what the delivery was. After Zhao’s Wife is initially pleased that the Emperor has sent her an expensive fruit, the delivery guy says he isn’t impressed as it’s only half of a fruit as seen how it’s clearly been cut. He then goes to say not only that obviously, the Emperor could afford a whole fruit if he wanted, it means he wants to break up with his mistress. Having started the cogs turning with Zhao’s Wife, she realizes he’s right and tries to refuse it and it eventually leads to an embarrassing back and forth with the parcel and then the delivery guy yelling in effect “No returns!” and running away.
There’s a couple of things to take away from this. Your customers and clients are not your friends or acquaintances. This sort of thing can get you fired. So just do your job and don’t get too familiar. Secondly, we’ve seen the balance shifting from Zhao’s Wife to Zhang Peng for some time now but still, it’s embarrassing to be losing out to someone who doesn’t even want the job of being Qi Sheng’s love interest and been trying their absolute level best to repel his attention, for obvious reasons – and yet, here we are.
So we’re now into the home stretch of this episode. The former Empress is definitely up to something and it’s fairly obvious what it is. Lu Li and Qiang have been tasked with setting up a large number of candles and now the former Empress is pressing them into service to ensure that they can make sure their respective bosses turn up at the same place at the same time. No doubt as to why as the former Empress says they’ve “worked so hard” without success so far. That’s true but not at what she’s been thinking. They’ve most definitely been making much more War than Love and it’s a miracle they haven’t killed each other yet. The former Empress, obviously thinking on different lines thinks all this ‘mood stuff’ with flowers and candles is going to do the trick as it worked with her and her husband. So much for that, then.
So it’s going to be the obvious play. Tell one person one thing, the other another thing and get them in the same place at the same time. Hilarity inevitably ensues. On Zhang Peng’s end, it’s the former Empress using the excuse that she wants her grand-daughter to try out a dress she’s designed. Zhang Peng, clearly wanting to oblige and seeing the obviously knowing the leverage she holds over her grandson, dutifully obliges.
Suffice to say, everyone’s appropriately impressed when said dress is unveiled, complete with wind machine and music assist. It would be very fair so say the Empress Zhang Peng Peng is looking very nice indeed. Too bad about what’s on the inside, I suppose for all concerned. Especially since everyone’s been trying so hard! Even Zhang Peng, to be fair. Well, such is life and yet another important lesson that hard work sometimes will only get you so far if the odds are sufficiently stacked against you, unfortunately.
What follows is a discussion about the former Empress naming a Western designer she got instruction from in how to design clothes, Zhang Peng mistaking the name for something modern also involved with clothes design, a flashback from him to a modern catwalk show he’s seen and some pun in Chinese about what Zhang Peng said could mean something yet again in Chinese. I can never do these justice in describing them and there was a lot of them in this episode, so I’ll just let them speak for themselves if you ever see the episode.
There’s the obligatory name drop of our sponsor under the guise of also helping with what the former Empress is trying to assist with, Zhang Peng seeing where this is going and absconding the moment the former Empress’s back is turned feigning illness and the former Empress returning to find him gone. With the air of resignation of someone used to these happenings by now, she orders it to be delivered to Zhang Peng’s residence and to make sure the Emperor is told to take it one hour “before sex”. No, that couldn’t possibly be directed at the audience at home now, could it.
For what is what I hope is the last time, Lu Li and Qiang are having a discussion outside where Zhang Peng is ensconced. Qiang finally gets it through Lu Li’s thick skull that he’s showing an interest in her, she makes an obvious remark to what he’s now lacking. He retorts that the Emperor said discriminating against the disabled is a crime and that even if he’s a eunuch, he has his dignity and his own feelings. All good points, I admit I’ve been guilty of the same thing in the last few reviews but in my feeble defence, I was really in a bad mood doing the last few reviews and taking it out on all possible targets. Not actually a defence, I know. I’ll try not to let it happen again.
Lu Li then follows up with saying even though she doesn’t look down on him, she just doesn’t like him – and then she laughs. Well, we don’t like you either, from your voice that can shatter glass to your brazen basking of the reflected glory of your boss. Also that voice, which is so irritating, it bears repeating. Luckily, the Emperor arrives for once it’s a good thing as he sticks up for Qiang and rhetorically demands who doesn’t like him and leaving Lu Li unable to say anything for once.
With that settled, he then wants to know why the Empress wants to see him so urgently. Everyone feigns ignorance or silence and the episode ends with the Emperor heading for the doorway. However we still have runtime – which is revealed to be the blooper reel for last episodes stealth Chinese Viagra advertisement. Well, that’s remarkably brazen and just a bit cheeky of them. Worth it for seeing the actor playing the Emperor cracking some real smiles (oh look, he can actually really smile as opposed to that terrifying death’s head rictus we’ve seen up to now!), the really bad jokes which aren’t trying for any innuendo now (“Armor makes you hard”) and the pelvic thrusting of Wives Two to Five when a take is busted.
Well, I guess we’ll see you next week when we find out what the Emperor finds behind the not-green door* (once again, ask your parents kids – or maybe even your grandparents, as references go, it’s quite an old one. No, I haven’t seen it. Yes, I might seem like I’m protesting too much. No, I don’t care.).
*Oh OK then but I’m going to play it safe and say NSFW (yes, that actually happen with Wikipedia – in case for text only, though some of them it can be for pictures as well).