One of the first things that happen to RY when she arrives in Chang'an is stumble unwittingly into a homicide. Someone's cleverly inserted human skeletal remains into a faux jade screen and making it bleed. It causes quite a stir and as we expect, the case is given to Xiao Song. He knows quite well who is the best woman for the job of extracting the bone from the screen but seems to believe that she would have nothing to do with him if asked properly. So he does a convoluted thing of tricking her into doing the job for free. Of course there's also the matter that his rival in love has also made his way to the metropolis under a new identity. This raises all kinds of red flags for the suspicious Xiao Song who already has his hands full trying to keep his lady love's attention focused on him.
For a while I wasn't sure whether those two would end up together or that I necessarily needed them together as a couple but after Episode 22, when they are finally working so well together and are so much in sync during the deductions that it would be an absolute tragedy if they didn't end up together.
It was so funny and so sweet when Xiao Song, broke protocol, volunteered to be her assistant at the autopsy. He knew exactly what to do, setting up her tools etc and he even deftly applied the deodorizers on her cleft palate. I can see why the head of the Board of Punishments, Lord Lu was looking faintly amused by their antics. It did look like they were flirting and I just adored how they replayed their quid pro quo relationship quietly during the set-up.
It is obvious that neither Xiao Song or Ran Yan is sure what the lady wants. He hopes desperately that she's come to Chang'an because of him. I think it's clear that she does. At the very least she thinks that solving crimes with him has become her calling. But after being burnt by the ex-fiance, she's leery of being so open with her feelings or committing herself so soon to another man. She was given multiple opportunities to divorce XS but she hesitates each time. She could have not gone to Chang'an but she did after being expressly invited to join him there. Then she goes beyond the call of duty to try and sneak into the head of the Ministry of Justice's office to look at documents related to the case. She would most likely have been caught except for the timely intervention of her suitors. When Xiao Song tells her he should punish her for sneaking in and stealing documents, she is adamant that she was only helping him. Then there is the incident with the in-laws. On one side of her mouth she claims she was forced into marrying XS but as soon as the in-laws talk about dissolving the marriage, she protests and insists on being acknowledged as wife #3. Her rationale to him is that she wants to help him investigate the deaths of his late wives because he helped her previously... presumably in her mother's case.
Things get dicey on the home front so XS sends RY back to her cousin's place for her safety. She's really quite miffed and vents at the restaurant about the gender of the goose. Her cousin knows that she's angry about XS taking her home and tells her that things haven't been good at the Xiao household. In response she shows up at the brothel in the middle of a sting declaring to the prostitutes that XS is her man, brandishing a knife in menacing fashion. This makes XS a very happy man and he is quick, as usual, to adapt to the situation. My thesis is that even while she had opportunities to keep away from XS, she kept running back to him. She used the convenient excuse each time that she wanted to help him solve cases to stay at his side. Moreover, each time any one mentioned any of his late wives, she would... as the idiom goes... "be eating vinegar"... get very jealous.
There is a clear shift in her paradigm of operation but she is reluctant to comply with the reality of her own mind. I think XS senses it and asks her to stay... implying that he really wants them to consummate their relationship because he thinks... rightly... that he has finally won her heart.
Of course, Su Fu interjects himself into the situation and his intervention to get her to cough up the Marquis of Sui's pearl by manipulating her compassionate side leads to the most serious rift between XS and her yet.
This show has resonances of classic Agatha Christie. Even while Xiao Song is on the hunt for the pearl which is inspiring carnage of the first order, the majority of cases so far seem to be about lost love of some kind... something that was an integral part of the Christie oeuvre. Except for the tomb raider murders, the crimes that our romancing detectives stumble onto are cautionary tales of obsession, love triangles and not being able to let go. There's no room for subtlety of any kind evidently.
Apparently they knew about dissociative personality disorder even in those days. Surprising that people were so broadminded and they didn't think to bring in the priests to exorcise her etc. (Perhaps they did at some point) Ironic though that the man the lady at the centre of it all loved so desperately and couldn't let go off was a bit of a loser that bailed at the first sign of trouble. And the seemingly dodgy husband was the one who really cared for her and kept her secret for all that time.
This is one of the things I love about this drama. It moves. Everything moves. Cases close in record time after our team do their thing. Let's chalk it up to the fact that I've been burnt by C dramas far too many times but I really didn't expect the pearl to be found until Episode 34 at least. But here we are in Episode 26, it's in Xiao Song's hot hands. (And he does have really nice hands) So yeah, the pearl is real and if legend holds true, the owner has access to incredible wealth to do some serious damage.
So what was XS doing in Suzhou then? After all, the pearl was literally in his own backyard. Seems like a waste of time then to have made the trip. Well, not entirely. He had to find the lambskin too and he was under orders to gather clues about the pearl's whereabouts given to him by the Big Man himself. But in reality... going to Suzhou was narratively about him finding another wife. A wife. The third wife. The wife to end all wives. Or rather the wife to end all need for any more wives. Hopefully. Let's hope he's third time lucky. XS seems to have a hard time hanging on to women... poor fellow. It's the curse of the pearl being so close to home. I remember when he and RY were trapped in that stuffy ancient tomb waiting to be rescued. He cracked a knowing smile when she said that the death of his two wives probably had nothing to do with misfortune etc. There had to be some earthly explanation for at least one of them. I think he knew then... that she was the one. They were on the same page. He'd met his soulmate.
Apparently all that love and affection he showered on Wife #2 was all a smokescreen. She was after something and he always knew it. Dear fellow... never lets me down.
And RY threw a jealous tantrum all for nothing.