Love Like the Galaxy (2022) Episodes 31-32 Ramblings
It’s obvious from the last two episodes that Cheng Shaoshang aka Niaoniao is out of her depth with regards to palace politics. It’s easy to forget because she can be quick on her feet that in many ways she’s still a child. A neglected child. A neglected child who is starved for affection and to a large degree frames herself as a victim despite having a not-too-bad kind of life . While her pride and her wits has served her well on a number of occasions, her pride is tinged with a pessimism that might be end up being her undoing. Her combative spirit as seen against lesser mortals might see short term gains but she shouldn’t let it go to her head. Although she’s managed to get back at her bullies in the past, it has always come at a cost. She’s never been able to get off scot free. The brutal truth she hasn’t as yet learnt to play the long game… or just to stay out of other people’s games entirely because she is still driven by her emotions.
In truth revenge is a dish best served cold.
From what transpired in the last two episodes, it’s clear why the empress and Consort Yue don’t allow themselves to be embroiled in court/palace politics despite being highly intelligent and educated women. Even when the emperor seeks their advice, they defer to him. The question that Niaoniao should probably have asked herself (but didn’t) is why the empress did not get involved with the Wang family and the crown prince crisis when other tv empresses would have, at the very least indirectly. Instead she’s lying depressed in her boudoir brooding over her parenting skills, refusing food. Consort Yue too adamantly objects to being manipulated by her brother the Marquise Yue into joining his machinations telling him in no uncertain terms to take his schemes and do a swan dive. It’s a curious situation but there’s little doubt that these women take a long view of things. Certainly to protect their errant and wayward offspring, they have to be seen to be neutral and not take sides lest the balance of power get tipped one way or another. When there’s too much infighting, instability is inevitable. And instability is ripe for the picking by unscrupulous types at home and from foreign lands.
It’s quite natural for youngsters not to think of the long term consequences of their actions which is why Zisheng is quite the rare beast in that regard. I’m sure he didn’t earn his general stripes just by looking spic and span in armour. But seeing Wu Lei now taking on the mantle of Mei Changsu (Nirvana in Fire reference) as Ling Buyi does warm the cockles of my heart.
No doubt Niaoniao means well especially when the empress has become a positive surrogate mother figure to her. Trying to get the mother of the nation to eat is one thing but dishing out advice to a likely future emperor is another. To be honest I’m not sure that it reflects that well on the crown prince not only that he’s putting his personal feelings ahead of national interests but that he’s taking tips from a fifteen-year-old girl who hasn’t got a handle on the lay of the land. It’s not necessarily about who’s right or wrong but what’s prudent when your eye has to be on the bigger picture. Politics is always messy business. Conspiracies are the norm rather than the exception. And if Niaoniao really believes she was dragged into the palace by Zisheng as she claims then that’s actually more of a reason to stay out of the proverbial kitchen if she can’t stand the heat. But I suspect that there’s a little bit of hubris in Niaoniao. She can be too big for her boots but she’s not really aware of it because she’s The Victim. She thinks she’s just asserting her independence but from where I’m looking, she has serious trust issues.
I don’t think Zisheng is obliged to tell Niaoniao everything that he’s doing in the palace. Why should he? He’s a court official and a general who is active in keeping the peace. Some things have to remain confidential for personal safety and national security reasons. It should be enough that he says to her not to get involved too much with the eastern palace based on what she already knows. Does the emperor consult his wives on everything? I doubt it. Even when he was trying to ask for advice regarding Zisheng’s marriage issues at Mt Tugao, they didn’t commit themselves one way or another.
I realize it’s hard for her but Niaoniao needs to trust Zisheng more not to take matters into her own hands just because the opportunity arises. Honestly it’s always obvious to the right people that her fingerprints are all over the deed even when she’s not trying to bring attention to herself. Only because of the grace of others that nothing really terrible happens to her as a consequence. She gets her pound of flesh and someone protects her from taking too much heat for it. The really fascinating thing about the inclusion of Miss Luo, one of the ladies-in-waiting is how she serves as a contrast. She would trade places with Niaoniao in a heartbeat. She would happily marry Ling Buyi because everybody knows he is good husband material and get to live in the palace rather than be sent far away from home and hearth to marry a man she doesn’t know. She might be a suspicious figure but she understands her position better than most. Miss Luo knows exactly what Niaoniao has gained but in times like this, Niaoniao is doing her glass half-empty shtick.
Does anyone really believe that Niaoniao would be satisfied with the ordinary life? I don’t think Zisheng does either. It’s just 气话 angry talk. The girl has plans and schemes buzzing around her head 24/7. Even if she ends up not marrying him, she’ll be something of a gadfly where she is. She can’t even back down from a fight. The fifth prince seems keen on her too. So is Yuan Shen. Besides, would an “ordinary” guy want to marry her? More importantly what would this ordinary life look like?
What’s also bothersome is that Niaoniao thinks that she’s incapable of change or that she doesn’t need to as if to say that she’s a finished product with no more room for improvement. Just because her mother hasn’t done a particular sterling job parenting her in recent months doesn’t mean she can’t do better and be better than what she is. It seems like an excuse to dig her heels in and maintain the victim narrative. It’s a powerful story for her to cling onto because it allows her to cast aspersions on everybody’s motives including the man who loves her. It also gives her an excuse not to have to change. “When everybody else is the problem, why do I have to change?”
Whether she realises it or not, she is already changing.
Accommodation is undoubtedly an important lesson for every couple in a marriage but I don’t think one half of the relationship should hold back if he/she thinks the other half is doing something that’s headed for disaster. I’m definitely not convinced “that’s who I am” is a good enough reason for letting someone destroy themselves or hurt the people around them. No parent in their right mind would let their child run amok at 15 on the basis of that statement alone. Nobody who was once 15 would be the same when they turn 25, 30, 40, 50 and beyond.