Episodic Thoughts: “Beauty at War” (Episode 3)
Beauty at War <金枝慾孽 (貳)>
TVB Series 2013
Cast: Sheren Tang, Ada Choi, Moses Chan, Christine Ng, Kenny Wong, Eddie Kwan, Alice Chan, and Christine Kuo.
Whoa. Episode to be honest was the best episode so far. I started to understand the complicated themes and schemes of what Jonathan Chik and Chow Yuk Ming were trying to imply, and I think I am beginning to like this series now. But how was it good? What was it that made me want to watch the rest of the episodes?
Well, at first I was thinking that the scene with Seung Ling (Ada Choi) and the 5th Prince (Consort Yu’s son) was unnecessary and uninteresting in the first episode, I think a different way now. In the third episode, Seung Ling told her maid that she is surprised that the 5th prince’s chess skills have improved so much.
Also, I start to see Muk Do Yee (Katy Kung) in a positive light. I used to dislike TVB promoting her as I thought she doesn’t have any talent in acting, but I think she did a good job here in Beauty at War. Muk Dee Yee’s argument with Ada Choi was convincing and it showed the misunderstanding between the two. Finally there is a reason as to why Ada Choi speaks in such a weak and fragile voice in this series, as she has a lot of things to think about and she has to deal with Muk Do Yee misunderstanding her. Even though they have a stepmother-daughter relationship, they don’t have good understanding and relationship with each other. Good job for both of them; very convincing and clear when they speak.
Hm…. Sit Goong Goong… Does this remind you of anyone? Yes. This is Stanley (the guy who played Ga Ming from When Heaven Burns). I start to notice him now, as he appears in a reasonable amount of screentime. I personally think he doesn’t have much experience with acting, but he does act well enough for me. His expressions were funny when he was inspecting and trailing Kenny Wong for being responsible playing the flute song at night time, and making people in the palace scared and frightened. I think he gives a promising start for his acting career! Go Ga Ming!
Speaking about Kenny Wong, he acted excellently. I was convinced that he was a psycho at calculations and that there was something strange about him. I was like huh when he said it wasn’t him who constantly plays the flute song at night time. Does this mean that Maggie Cheung (On sin) could actually be the one playing the flute? Such a mystery! I can surely understand why the audience found it confusing about how would Muk Do Yee help Kenny Wong and his dad to reunite with his son and his wife. I guess it would explain later on. And also, I found another reference from War and Beauty as the person who helped Kenny Wong with his injury was the same guy in War and Beauty where he was Bowie Lam (Doctor)’s assistant. Kenny Wong’s friend said he doesn’t work for the doctor’s department anymore, so I wonder what happened to him.
Raymond Cho’s appearance was nice. I liked how the dust blew all the coloured paper and Raymond Cho picked it up. He sort of resembles Bowie Lam from the prequel as the imperial doctor, and he does speak like Bowie Lam from the first series. There’s nothing special Raymond Cho in this episode, so I’ll wait for the other episodes to say more.
Oh, there’s also something that I need to mention; it’s the background music. Is it just me or does viewers think that the background music sometimes is a bit annoying and irritating? During conversations I always hear music background that goes from one tune to the next, and it sort of giving me a headache! In War and Beauty, they just used catchy, slow yet exciting sound effects that were superb. I guess I would have to blame the audio editors for that! But nevertheless, the other background music are beautiful and magical-like, really suiting the style of the series!
Let’s talk about something else. Yuen Sau’s (Christine Ng) maid Yeuk Kwa approached Hau Yeung for stealing her ivory. Hau Yeung said she couldn’t sleep from the flute song at night time so he was cleaning the room and she accidentally broke Yuen Sau’s ivory tablet. Hm… I wasn’t sure whether Hau Yeung was bad at acting or if she looked too tan. Her facial expressions were a bit fake and forced. I couldn’t bear her because she was trying too hard to look innocent. Christine Ng could tell that he was simple-minded and was an innocent person, where Yeuk Kwa (her other maid) was scheming to get rid of Hau Yeung. Although I knew it by looking at the synopsis from Wikipedia, I finally realized that Christine Ng hated her sister (Consort Yu). While Christine Ng became a consort back in the past and Consort Yu (Sheren Tang) didn’t, the emperor died soon after. When there was the new emperor, Sheren Tang was chosen to become the Consort and she enjoys the life of being the current Consort. Again there is a misunderstanding, but I think Chow Yuk Ming (the scriptwriter) uses this theme too much. The misunderstanding between Muk Yee Do and Ada Choi, Ada Choi and her husband, Ada Choi and Sheren Tang, Sheren Tang and Christine Ng…Don’t you think it’s too messy? I guess it gets the series going. Haha also, I nearly laughed when I saw Christine Ng with all the old consorts, which shows that she is no longer valuable and cared for in the palace, and it shows her situation that she is history compared to Consort Yu, who is the current emperor’s consort.
And yay! Here we get to see Sheren Tang in this episode! In War and Beauty, she uses her power to get her ways and even uses her daughter to gain favor of the emperor again. However, in here she would take her son (the 5th prince) as her priority and she is very caring, kindhearted and lovable I was glad at Christine Kuo wasn’t in this episode and I was happy to know that Rachel Kan was really the primary palace maid of Sheren Tang! She is much better at acting and although I thought she was so ridiculous to make the 5th prince have an allergic reaction, it was for Sheren’s good.
Additionally, I see the similarity between On Sin (Maggie Cheung) and Seung Ling (Ada Choi) now. They are both calculating, are maids and are cunning sometimes. Ada Choi thinks too much as she believed that Sheren Tang was the one who made her son have an allergic reaction in order for an excuse to punish Ada Choi and get rid of her. But it was Rachel Kan (Sheren Tang’s palace maid) who was responsible for it. The reason for Rachel Kan’s actions is to protect the 5th prince from dangerous actions such as horse-riding and the dangerous battlefield.
Viewers that have no patience and don’t like to think deeply would obviously not understand the implications and misunderstanding in the series as Jonathan Chik series really require you think ahead. I am really happy now that my most anticipated series is getting more climatic and interesting to watch, which means Jonathan Chik and Chow Yuk Ming has not disappointed me yet. In the last scene, Ada Choi sees that the chessboard has been moved and that the move was a smart one. She knows it can’t be the 5th prince as he is sick from his allergy reaction and didn’t move the chessboard, so who is it? Only if you watch the next episode you might find out! Although this episode was still not as fast pace as War and Beauty, it was in a fair pace that makes me satisfied for the moment. Thanks Jonathan Chik for keeping me entertained so far, and thanks everyone for reading my episode thoughts!
This review is written by Tony, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.