「Love and Hate」
Continuing on from last episode, Lan Wangji (LWJ) and Wei Wuxian (WWX) continue investigating the demonic hand and its origins. They bump into and rescue young Jin Ling, a scion of the Lanling Jin clan who is actually WWX’s nephew through his older step-sister, who seems as aloof and haughty as ever. In other words, much more like his father than his mother. But although he seems homophobic towards Mo Xuanyu’s (the physical body that WWX inherited) reputed homosexuality, I really enjoyed the interactions between the uncle and nephew duo. You can tell that WWX really cares about Jin Ling, and he even had a flashback to when his older step-sister stood up for him when he got ganged up on by multiple other cultivators. So their close relationship is always touching to remember, and it makes sense that he would subsequently look out for his nephew.
Alongside the Yao clan member who was brought back to his senses, the trio are ambushed by a demonically mutated snake, leading to an awesome fight where the combined powers of LWJ and WWX send it to the netherworld. The path ahead leads them to a zombie array, where they discover that countless people became lost and unable to escape eventual death. Through an inquiry with the dead conducted by LWJ, we learn that the cursed head that killed those poor men at the start of the episode belonged to Jin Ling’s uncle, who was killed by WWX giving orders to Wen Ning – the same zombie general who killed Jin Ling’s parents. When Wen Ning appears in front of everybody, Jin Ling naturally goes berserk, and sends a flare signal to request help. During this altercation, a shady figure monitoring everybody is exposed and trapped by LWJ’s formation. Just when LWJ is about to interrogate them, they commit suicide, leaving no answer beside the implication that someone with an ulterior motive is at play. All in all, a great episode. I really enjoyed the animations, especially anything that involved cultivation magic and sword action, and the accompanying soundtracks were fitting. Throughout this episode, the mood was more or less somber and I’d describe the feelings of decay as being akin to the Dark Souls universe. I have to say, this is all really dark and chilling compared to the bulk of Season 1, really showing us that WWX’s demonic cultivation brought a lot of darkness and suffering to the world. We knew his intentions were good, but dang does it hurt to see how much damage he unintentionally caused.
「Web of Intrigue」
Jiang Cheng (JC), WWX’s step-brother, arrives onto the scene in response to his nephew Jin Ling’s SOS signal. Upon seeing the zombie general, the exact same one responsible for the death of his sister and brother-in-law thus orphaning Jin Ling, he flies into a rage and immediately sets about trying to destroy Wen Ning. Though he puts up a great fight with his whip, goes toe to toe in a hand to hand combat exchange and lands a solid blow of spiritual energy, Wen Ning ultimately escapes. Further investigation of the corpses in the zombie array also indicate that they were torn apart and sewn back together in what WWX perceives as being an attempt to experiment with undead magic and negative energy. And they also discover that the rampant undead had been sealed by a mysterious swordsman, who actually shares the same master as WWX’s biological mother, which is a connection that I hope the series will explore in the future. By the morning, they dismantle the formation – much to the dismay of this character I can’t recognise but reckon to be a perpetrator of sorts. But just as the older problem is resolved, a new mystery arises where they cannot find the corpse of Jin Ling’s uncle, which should have provided evidence about WWX’s status. The main characters observe that this was likely an attempt to hide it from becoming common knowledge. To make matters worse, the zombie hand that was being suppressed in the temple breaks free. Which means that the local population is in danger, and it flees towards Qinghe. During their search through Qinghe, we find out that WWX has a massive phobia of dogs due to a childhood incident. We also get to see why Jiang Cheng’s father (and therefore WWX’s adoptive father) was such a great guy, protecting WWX and taking him in. Best dad, no competition. And it makes me sad to know that Jiang Cheng completely hates WWX now, even though they were virtually inseparable in the past.
All in all, another great episode. The animation for the action sequence between JC and Wen Ning was incredibly fluid and it also had the emotional intensity going for it. I enjoyed seeing LWJ stand up for WWX when others spoke badly about him. Though he claims to be impartial, and while the cultivators present seemed to buy it, I don’t think he will be fooling any of us. Finally, Qinghe Nie is portrayed as incompetent. However, I think that there’s more to him than meets the eye. Anyway, that wasn’t everything I wanted to discuss. But real life circumstances require me to go. As always, thanks for reading this post and also sorry for the delays (my laptop gave out on me while I was out of town). But it won’t be long, because I’ll soon be covering for the recently subbed fourth episode. So stay tuned for that! And if you have any further insights, please do make them known in the comment section below!