Funn’s Thoughts: The Baffling Non-Existent Palace Struggle in “The Confidant”
Funn’s Note: The following are not episode recaps but are ramblings and torrents of disbelief for The Confidant <大太監>. All merely personal opinion.
Watched until episode 29…
You know, there are so many things I love about The Confidant. The acting, some characters like An Dehai, Pang Sam Soon and of course Li Lianying who is slowly becoming more of a man than a coward. There are some characters I love to hate, like Seung Hei, Cixi and of course the one destined for most hate, Cian. And also Tim Sau. In fact by the end of episode I believe 29, I am convinced Cian and Tim Sau caused the downfall of the empire and only Lianying and Cixi can save the empire! Very dangerous precedent this series is forming, as Yoda will say.
I also like some scenes in episode 29, such as Tongzhi explaining why he had given up on himself and dedicated his entire time to having fun, in one moving scene Sam Soon got down on his knees and tearfully said to the emperor, “Your majesty promised us loyal servants that you will always help us, you will always be on our side no matter what. But your majesty has broken your promise. Your loyal servant is now bullied and cornered by his enemies in all 4 corners and your majesty did not come to rescue me. Why your majesty has forsaken your promise?”
Tongzhi woke up for one split second from his angry moment and explained why… “Mother said I am useless. Those ministers talk behind my back and call me useless. I am nothing but a puppet emperor. So what if I do well? No one cares! Since everyone has marked me as a useless emperor, and so I shall be!!! I will be the most useless of them all!!” It was a very sad moment and I blame Cixi. I don’t get her; when he worked hard and sneaked out of the palace to actually see the problems of the people, she scolded him and said he was too stupid to make use of his ministers and therefore unfit to be emperor. I thought that was especially harsh and I was thinking, “What does she want him to do?!”
But on a good note, let me declare, I have forgiven Seung Hei! Why? Well the princess died when he was forced to go and administer medicine to Cian by that dastardly Tim Sau and so Seung Hei blamed Cian and scolded her. The moment he scolded her, I forgave him. He had the guts to say what he said,”You evil black hearted woman! Why are you still alive and all the good people dead? The princess didn’t deserve to die. But you, you deserve death and yet here you are, alive”. In modern speech, Seung Hei could have save his breath and just scream “DIE BITCH DIE!!!!!!” And when he was imprisoned as he explained why he refused to help Cian, the way he said it, I swear Seung Hei will go mad one day. He said with a tinge of a smile that grew into a full blown wide grin as he said, “Why won’t I? Right now, she would be feeling the full effects of her illness. She will be in tremendous pain, she will be suffering, and in 7 days, she will die. She deserves to die in the most painful way for what she did to the princess and Dehai” and I swear he was smiling. Kudos to Raymond Wong for that piece of fantastic acting, that satisfied look of a man who is happy to know his enemy is suffering. But of course it turns out Cian was well, not even sick and Seung Hei was baffled and he was carried away crying “WHY ARE YOU STILL ALIVE? WHY AREN’T YOU DEAD?! There is no justice in this world, there is no fairness, you evil black hearted woman, you are still alive when you should be in hell for what you did!!”
At that moment, I said “Seung Hei, bless you!” Yes I forgive him! I know he was selfish in An Dehai’s case but he was a fool for love. He was also not that nice when he knew the princess didn’t love him anymore but what he did after, the way he cared for her, the way he didn’t care if he lived or die as long as if he could save her, he will kill himself as sorry to An Dehai, the way he scolded Cian, made me forgive him. Lianying and Sam Soon have also forgiven him.
All these are the good stuff.
The Baffling Non-Existent Palace Struggle Story
And that is exactly what I don’t get. The entire story now until the end is the threat posed by Cian to the emperor and to Cixi and the empire and how Lianying came back to “clean the house of rubbish” as he puts it that way. So Tim Sau declared Lianying to be public enemy no. 1 and in return Lianying asks Cixi to give him a 4th ranked official as his title which is really very high and a pearl on top of his hat. Basically he is now “Big Eunuch”. Terribly exciting except…
where is the struggle?
First of, Cian is powerless. I don’t get Cixi don’t just chop off Tim Sau’s head? She said she gave up on her son who accused her of adultery with Dehai. Cian wants to make life hell for Cixi. So she made sure Tongzhi is a useless emperor having fun all day. BUT so? So the power struggle is…what? Because Cixi is still ruling the country. Cixi basically can just chop off Tim Sau’s head, kick out Chan Fuk and put Cian under house arrest. Why not since Cixi is RULING the country and Cian is doing what?
Secondly, the emperor is powerless. So what if Cian made him useless, how can that threaten Cixi? It only solidifies her position as Cixi now is the de-facto ruler. Make her feel heartsick? Like that will cause her hell?
Thirdly, Cian using the eunuchs for her grand plan of tormenting Cixi. But what eunuchs she used? Ling Tim Sau who is a joker to tell you the truth. Cian could have given Tim Sau a 4th rank position but she has no power to do so. Instead Cixi gave Lianying that ranking! So what’s the point of Tim Sau turning evil? What does he get in the end?
Finally, what is Cian’s grand plans anyway? Because the way I see it Prince Gong is still working well with Cixi! Prince Gong is a righteous man, he says what he thinks and what he sees. He is not evil. He is not even on Cian’s team. Cixi is still fine. So what is her grand plan? To be a nuisance? What a small minded “grand” plan that is!
The problem with The Confidant right now is it isn’t logical. Forget about historical accuracy. When An Dehai died, my historically accurate side went away with his death. I miss him so. For me the idea of Lianying killing the bad guys had me salivating. Their deaths will be deserving. I am not talking about that logic. I am talking about story integrity.
Here we have a story about power struggle but it was at the end a petty family squabble where one can right the damage but refuses (Cixi), one is going insane (Cian) and one who is torn in the middle (Tongzhi) with one by the side not aware what is happening (Prince Gong). It is not a reasonable power struggle. I mean so what if the emperor is useless? Cixi is there, she can run the country. What possible thing can Cian do to ruin Cixi’s life? Right now, probably killing her favourite eunuch, An Dehai, causing a misunderstanding between Tongzhi and Cixi but then nothing comes out of that misunderstanding.
Since history is screwed, why not follow half of real history? Why not show Cixi on Tongzhi’s good side and Tongzhi favouring Cian and push aside Cixi? Why not make Cian influence Prince Gong to hate Cixi? Why not Cian run the country, put Cixi under house arrest? Why not make it bigger and not make it so petty?
I seriously do not get the so called power struggle because the way I see it Cixi is still in power comfortably. So all these stuff done by Tim Sau is pointless.
My prediction of the last episode will be Prince Gong forced to take out the letter punishing Cixi. I suppose maybe I will get to see Prince Gong being misled about Cixi and at the end dramatically save Cixi. Or maybe not. Maybe Lianying will kill the enemies but the way I see it, the enemies probably fall down and hit their own heads and die. Both Cixi and Lianying’s hands will be free of blood since like I said, series is going all out to show them in a good light. Perhaps when Tongzhi dies, Cian switches back to good woman role.
Because my biggest problem with this series is making Cian the villain. It doesn’t make sense for her grand plan, whatever that is. I would have hoped Cixi was stubborn and unreasonable. Why not make Prince Gong the bad guy? I mean leave Cian alone!
But Maggie Shiu is masterful as Cian. When she was very sick, I could hear her voice trembling. When she is evil, there is a certain satisfaction in her voice. Absolutely fantastic performance.
Natalie Tong is the poor empress but again so little time, so little to do. I just feel there are some good characters wasted and they’re not the eunuchs. But since this series is about eunuchs, I must say the focus is right. But the one person that is very related to the eunuchs is Cixi and I still find her bland. In fact I find her Cixi deep down in that heart of hers is one evil minded woman. Because I just don’t get her. Cian I know. She will be mad soon. But Cixi and the way she scolded her son at the beginning doesn’t make sense.
But at least it is interesting with Lianying back in the palace and a changed man. He was always the coward and An Dehai the gungho guy. Even in death An Dehai retained his gungho-ness. Lianying whilst is happy outside with his sifu, Sin Yung and their adopted son, inside he is struggling with his anger. He is angry because he new An Dehai was wrongly accused and died pitifully. I was thinking please don’t show him returning to the palace to save Cixi. And thankfully, in one of the best moments in this episode, right up there with Seung Hei scolding and cursing Cian, is Lianying saying he wants to go back to the palace to avenge An Dehai’s death. Same goes for Seung Hei who vows to fight Cian to avenge for the princess and An Dehai’s death. Everybody got his (and his) priorities right. That is perhaps the most logical moment. Of course Lianying was also right when he said “Eunuchs scheming against one another for power is expected and I won’t argue with that. But using the emperor’s well being as a pawn is something I will not accept.”
Good point! Even if I don’t get how one Lianying can save the palace. Because there are no other eunuchs?
Anyway episode 29 featured a short conversation between Lianying, Sinyung and one young scholar named Kang youwei (Hong Yau Wai) and he proposes that an emperor that can’t even rule over his own household can’t possibly be trusted to rule over the empire. Meaning if you can’t even straighten your household, what more can you do for the empire? People must not be selfish to one’s own needs and must do what is right. That and his deep desire to avenge Dehai’s death drove Lianying back into the palace, with Sinyung’s blessing.
So is this Kang Youwei real?
Google says.. YES!! Got pictures also!!
Who is he?
Political reformer hated by Cixi.
There, history screwed again but oh who cares!! Lianying, KILL! KILL! KILL!!!
Oh how TVB has brainwashed me!
Related Commentaries on “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: The End of An Dehai
- Funn’s Thoughts: The Roundabout Plot in “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: Life and Death in “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: The Eunuchs of “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: Raymond Cho Steals the Show in “The Confidant”
- Funn’s Thoughts: Michelle Yim is a Bland Empress Cixi
This commentary is written by Funn Lim and was originally posted at www.point2e.com.