A Positive Recap: Joy of Life Episode 11-15

Romance is in the air! Our OTP is finally giving us the feels, and we couldn’t be happier. Of course, it’s not all hearts and sausages for our hero. Our hearts encounter a big loss this week, and we’re hoping Fan Xian can keep his positive outlook on the world as he falls deeper into the fight for his life.

Oops, that drumstick belongs to a Princess

Last we saw Fan Xian, he was upset again because he’d failed to find his true love. He’s determined to break off the engagement so he goes at it from a different direction. He convinces Ruo Ruo to take him to see Wan’er disguised as a doctor. He examines her and determines she has tuberculosis. Part of his plan is to see her face (because it’s inappropriate?) and finally discovers that drumstick girl and Wan’er are one and the same. She now thinks he’s a doctor and is totally confused, but she manages to flirt with him and get the pretty coded instructions to leave her window open so he can come to see her that night.

Drama Geek: I was happy that they didn’t drag this out any longer. It was funny to see them try to get out of the engagement for a little bit, but I needed them on the same page.

Kmuse: The big reveal was super cute and happened a lot earlier then I was expecting. But as Drama Geek said, this isn’t a bad thing. So far the pacing has been spot on.

Fancy Footwork

When Fan Xian does show up, he runs into Ling’er and they have a duel to the death, except Wan’er jumps in and lets Ling’er know that he’s okay to be in her room. After they kick Ling’er out, Wan’er holds a knife to him and starts going off on him for all the lies he’s told. He doesn’t really take her seriously until she holds the knife to her throat, and then he finally spits out that he’s Fan Xian. Wan’er doesn’t believe him but has him write down his now-famous poem. It’s not the words she’s using to identify him, it’s his handwriting. Apparently, that part of him is very much from the 21st Century.

Our couple now ends up flirting with each other every night, with Fan Xian sneaking into her room and totally making us swoon. Everything really is happy times, except Wan’er’s mom still doesn’t want her to marry Fan Xian. Wan’er seems to sense she has to keep her true feelings for Fan Xian a secret from mommy dearest, but she should probably work on her poker face.

Drama Geek: The DRUMSTICK HEART!!! I totally died when he showed up with that and thought it was hilarious that it was what took Ling’er out. She was in total awe of his fighting skills and it was really cute. I also loved how much chemistry our OTP had once they were allowed to just be with each other and have a real conversation.

Kmuse: They have some very unexpected cute banter! I was very worried that their romance would be a bit bland. But I could not be more wrong. Wan’er has so much more sass when she isn’t forced to be weak and eat her chicken in secret.

Female Assassins (YAY!) and a Sad Farewell

Zi Jing’s son happens to walk alongside a chained box that contains some unearthly creature. He happily shares his fruit with the thing and then follows it into the manor where the two women with veiled hats continue to keep it locked up.

The creature gets unleashed upon Zi Ling and Fan Xian on their way to see Second Prince. It’s a mammoth of a man from Northern Qi and he’s achieved level eight of the Pokemon challenge so he’s very powerful (and big)! They both fight him valiantly but it’s just not enough, and Teng Zi Jing gives his life to save Fan Xian.

Drama Geek: The happiness had only lasted for an episode or two, but the sheer syrupy goodness of it had this seasoned drama watcher positive that calamity was about to befall our hero. It’s very sad because Zi Ling and his son were just starting to bond after being kept apart most of the little boy’s life.

Kmuse: I was so devastated but in a very good way so it still counts as a positive. I love that the writer/director made me love the character so much that I openly mourned Teng Zi Jing’s death. I am very sad to see Teng Zi Jing go, but his passing makes the stakes seem higher somehow. One of the reasons I love Chinese dramas is that you never know if your favorite characters are safe. There is something satisfying about not always getting a happy ever after.

Fan Xian in a Fit of Fury

After the man from Northern Qi is captured, a very powerful person in the Investigation Bureau tells him that he CANNOT kill him because he’s being used as a bargaining chip for some important information from their northern enemy. Fan Xian doesn’t give a hoot about political strategies. His friend was killed because of him, and he’s going to punish the person responsible. Fan Xian could secretly kill him after they leave the city but instead does it on the streets in front of everyone. Unfortunately, that includes Zi Ling’s son, who only knows the big man as his friend, not his dad’s murderer. Fan Xian does manage to shield the boy from seeing anything, but it’s still very sad.

Fan Xian is immediately arrested, and this time his nifty inspection badge doesn’t help. He’s lead to the jails, but Wang Qinian (the man who helped Zi Ling’s family escape the city) shows up trying to convince the man in charge that the Northern Qi man was a trap so Fan Xian did him a favor. The man in charge knew it was a trap and wanted to pretend to fall into it.

It looks like Fan Xian might end up in jail, but at the last minute (of course) the Emperor sends his order to free Fan Xian.

Wang Qinian proves he’s a many with many talents by helping Fan Xian investigate the assignation attempt on him. They discover that Si Li Li burned her houseboat and fled the city. They hurry to follow her but the same man that arrested him before tries to stop them. This time he’s arresting Qinian for stealing confidential information.

Drama Geek: I may have gotten distracted by Fan Xian’s outfit switch up in these scenes. He looks really good in black. And even though I hate that he’s lost someone, I don’t mind that he’s finally seeing the weight of what is going on around him. Cheeky Fan Xian is fun, but having a more serious one is kind of hot. Well… as long as he never goes full angst. He’s not the best crier.

Kmuse: I might have swooned a bit when Fan Xian was yelling at the head jerk at the investigation bureau. This super intense Fan Xian was determined to see justice done, even if he has to fight everyone to get it. I look forward to seeing more of this in the future.

Like Son Like Father

When a last-minute savior shows up, I don’t know if anyone was expecting Fan Xian’s dad, but he helps him out, backed by the Emperor’s men. Later Dad goes to the Emperor and they have a back and forth that is a lot like the way Fan Xian treats his superiors. I’m pretty sure his dear mom is to blame for all these men running around not acting very respectful of people in power. Everyone is equal in her vision for the future, and it definitely has rubbed off on them. We discover the Emperor pardoned Fan Xian for killing the Northern Qi guy because he did it in the streets. The people needed to see that someone among them was more powerful than their enemy.

Drama Geek: I LOVED their interaction and I’m dying to know what they were like when Fan Xian’s mom was around. I’m pretty sure we’re all guessing that maybe there is a different 1st prince… or maybe Fan Xian is like the real 2nd Prince and his birth was wedged into between the other two. It’s clear that Fan Jian and the Emperor are both aware of why Fan Xian is so important.

Kmuse: UGH! I need to know the birth secret. The mystery is killing me. Guess I will have to be entertained by Fan Xian’s quirky way of causing chaos and be patient.

Smarter than Your Average Messenger Bird

Everyone is after Si Li Li but Fan Xian ends up being the only one smart enough to figure out that she doubled back into the city and left through a different gate. They change their direction and end up at the same inn as Si Li Li. She sees them arrive and bribes a worker to see their food before it’s delivered. She poisons them but doesn’t know that Fan Xian has a nose for those things.

Drama Geek: I didn’t include in the rundown of things, but Ling’er witnesses someone holding Si Li Li with a knife before the assassination attempt, and it’s implied that this is the person who forces her to work with them against Fan Xian. Ling’er clearly knows who it is, but we don’t see her for the rest of these episodes. I’m putting my money on Wan’er’s mommy dearest.

Kmuse: I also suspect the mom but at this point, it could be several people. I just really like all the mysteriously garbed assassin ladies. There is something so aesthetically pleasing to watch their hats flow as they attack.

Highlights and Final Thoughts:

Drama Geek: I was sooooo happy that our couple has chemistry. Their banter back and forth and the scene where he accidentally gets her drunk on medicine made me giddy. She comforts him after the death of his friend and knows all the right things to say. I am 100% behind this pairing.

I also loved how they highlighted Wang Qinian’s many talents, except making maps. His little boxes for towns were downright hilarious.

Kmuse: I am 100% in love with this show. There is literally nothing I can pick apart. Which is great for when you are writing a positive only recap. Now time to binge the next 5 episodes.

Until the Next Drumstick,

Kmuse & Drama Geek

Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

6 thoughts on “A Positive Recap: Joy of Life Episode 11-15

  1. I am also in love with this show! The pacing is fantastic, the banter is hilarious, and the characters have depth. I also love the little hints about Fan Xian’s mother’s story. It’s totally a transmigration reverse-harem trope, with all three old guys having obviously been in loved (or obsessed?) with her.

    I’m also so curious about the birth secret and why she died.

    There’s really only one issue I have with the show: at least two seasons over two years!!!! WAAAAHHHH!!!! I hope we don’t have to deal with major-character casting changes….

    • I cannot handle it if they recast like Ever Night. Ning Que’s character in that lost his appeal with the new actor. Not that he’s a bad actor, but they chose to change him somehow and I couldn’t get past the first episode. At least with MDL it has a few of the main characters listed for the second season.

      • Agreed. Although I’m planning to squint and give Ever Night a chance because I love the story. I would pay cash money for hard copy professional translations of the original novels. Fan translations on Quidian are not right for this kind of writing!!!!

        • Oh that would be awful if they recast the main characters. This cast is so solid. I am really hating Ever Night 2 with the changes. It’s not working for me.

          • Yeah, I just can’t get into Ever Night 2 and I would probably not stay around for a second season of this if they recast.

          • Fan Xian, Wan’er, the Emperor, and Wang Qinian are the characters that have cast members attached on season 2, and they’re all the same actors so far. So…. that’s a pretty good core group. There’s bound to be some changes, but at least our leads are the same!

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