We're back with my second watch through of The Untamed. I figured, even though it's only been three weeks since I started, we still might need a refresher, so...
The Story So Far
A bloke named Mo Xuanyu was kicked out of the Jin Clan for unknown reasons. Mistreated by his family, he sacrifices his body to bring back to life a man called Wei Wuxian (hereafter WWX), whose death some sixteen years ago was a cause for celebration amongst many, in order to get revenge on them all.
The Mo household is, meanwhile, haunted by a sword ghost which we learn is infused with the energy of the Styrgian Tiger Amulet, a device of WWX's creation in his first life. Cultivators from the Lan Clan are called in to take care of the haunting. Quickly out of their depth, even with WWX's help, they call for their master, Lan Wangji (hereafter LWJ) for help. Turns out, LWJ and WWX have quite the history together and WWX's remembrances of LWJ are bittersweet.
Through some contrivance of happenstance, WWX ends up meeting and insulting a boy from the Jin Clan, who he later learns is his nephew. He also runs into his adopted brother, Jiang Cheng, who it turns out, is a complete dick. Still WWX escapes, his identity still a secret. His nephew and the young cultivators from Mo's Manor all end up getting attacked by a dancing fairy statue, which has been eating souls. Turns out, though, that was just an illusion. In the fight, WWX summons help from Wen Ning, also called The Ghost General, who WWX believed to be dead. Turns out, nope.
WWX runs into LWJ (literally), and it's obvious that LWJ recognises WWX.
Cue flashback in which we learn that WWX and Jiang Cheng were very close once, along with their older sister, Jiang Yanli. The three are on their way to the Cloud Recesses - home of the Lan Clan to attend cultivating lectures.
Right, we're caught up. Let's continue.
The lordling arrives with an enormous retinue. Seriously. How many attendants does a single bloke need. Anyway, he shows up and runs into the siblings.
Well, if Jiang Yanli doesn't have a crush on this pompous ass...
Anyway, despite once again stating their case, Jin Zixuan still kicks out the siblings. This, and an awkward solo encounter, leaves poor Jiang Yanli quite upset.
And holy shit! Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan are engaged? An arranged marriage between their parents? WTF?
So, unable to get the rest, WWX and his siblings make haste, arriving at the entrance to the Cloud Recesses before sunset. Technically, they should be able to get in, making it before curfew, but no, they've left their invitations in the damned tavern now occupied by Jin What'sHisFace.
LWJ arrives on the scene. Here they use a shot from one of WWX's remembrances in an earlier episode, and also slow motion, so you know this is the boy sees boy moment in the series. As it turns out, LWJ is leading the way in a morbid procession, in which a cultivator is carried in on a stretcher, his neck all marked up with what looks like cracks. You know, like a rock would have cracks.
WWX ponders aloud after someone murmurs about death, that the man on the stretcher isn't actually dead, but subjected to some wicked sorceries. This apparent braininess gets LWJ's attention. WWX seizes the moment to try and talk his way into the Cloud Recesses, but LWJ is having none of it.
Unable to to get even an inch from LWJ, WWX heads back to town to get the invitations while Jiang Yanli, Jiang Cheng and their retinue wait outside of the entrance to the Cloud Recesses, denied entry until the sun comes up the next day. Wait... what have we here? LWJ reappears. Does that mean they're allowed in? What does that mean for WWX?
WWX returns to find the campsite empty... and he's carrying two bottles of the liquor he really wanted to try but couldn't because of Jin Peacock-Boy. Hold up. These kids are, like, thirteen in this part of the story aren't they? Who the fuck is giving thirteen year olds rice wine? Not the point, I know, but someone needs to slap their parents.
Deciding to go find his siblings, WWX is stopped at the gate by a powerful magical ward... which he then easily breaks. We next see him climbing over the roof to get into the Lan Clan manor. He makes sure the coast is clear before he hauls himself onto the roof.
The coast wasn't all that clear, apparently. LWJ is there, staring at WWX. After WWX awkwardly greets him, LWJ informs the wayward would-be student of the Lan Clan rules he's broken. WWX tries to fix it by offering LWJ a bottle of his Emperor's Smile wine, for which he's chastised for attempting to bribe an enforcer of the law; another infraction.
Guess there's nothing for it. The pair are going to have to fight. In the fight, LWJ breaks one of WWX's bottles of liquor, which really upsets WWX. They finish their fight beside a large stone tablet, upon which the 3000 rules of the Lan Clan are listed. Unable to brook WWX's chattering, LWJ puts a silencing spell on him. Again. Man, I wish I had a spell like that. The peace and quiet I would get in my life...
Under arrest, WWX is taken to Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen - LWJ's uncle and brother respectively - who were examining the body of the poor unfortunate cracked cultivator on a stretch LWJ brought in earlier. Turns out, WWX was right - wicked sorcery. There, WWX is given the opportunity to plead his case. Lan Xichen is very reasonable about it all, but WWX is still punished. LWJ assigns him the punishment of writing the three thousand Lan Clan Rules three hundred times. After the punishment is assigned, WWX spies the body on the stretcher and begins his detective work.
We change scenes.
Cut back to the room in which the Lans and WWX are pondering over the body, and the body sits up and opens its eyes. The eyes are white. Spooky. It's decided the best name for such a poor unfortunate soul is 'puppet.' So, someone out there is making puppets of cultivators. It's Wen Ruohan, but they don't know that yet.
WWX is sent to his quarters, and we see LWJ standing outside, looking up at, presumably, the moon. What follows next is a really, really sweet brother moment. This is the point where I nearly fell in love with Lan Xichen. He's worried that he's been too strict with his younger brother (because, you know, LWJ is such a humourless stickler for the rules and doesn't know how to have fun). He confesses that he's glad LWJ is around during the lectures, that there will be cultivators his age around, and that he can make friends.
Then he says, and I kid you not, that he has a good feeling about WWX. He notes his brother's expression and then asks if WWX did not prove LWJ's equal in the sword fight. LWJ does not appreciate that, and he stalks off.
AND LAN XICHEN SMIRKS.
Oops, we back at the Fire Nation... I mean Wen Ruohan's throne room. Enter Xue Yuan. He's not part of the Wen Clan. He's just working for... with? for them. Wen Ruohan knows the locations of three of the fragments of Yin Iron (he has one, one is in the Cloud Recesses, and I forgot the other place already). Apparently, this Xue Yang knows where the fourth piece of the Yin Iron is, but he's refusing to tell until he gets what he wants from Wen Ruohan. I wonder what that might be?
And that's the end of the episode.
Things I Liked
Again, it's the small character interactions that I loved best about this episode. Lan Xichen's love for his brother is palpable in that gentle moment between them. I loved that scene best of all. I'm also rather taken with how well Wang Yibo is playing LWJ - the stoney face and unyielding personality really work here, and I'm there all the way. WWX's mischief is also great, and plays really well against LWJ's flat stoicism.
Like the things I read, I really enjoy characters done well. They're done extremely well here.
What Could Have Been Done Better
I'm really nitpicking here, like... really nitpicking, but the fight choreography could have been a tad better - a little less reliance on wirework, and some more training would have not gone amiss (though, I really do appreciate that it looks like Wang Yibo has a passing familiarity with some jian forms - jian being the kind of sword used here (a double-edged straight sword, as opposed to a dao, which is technically a sabre) - as evidenced by the way he used his off hand).
Look, I do martial arts, okay. I pay attention to these things whether I want to or not.
Another thing that made me roll my eyes just a tad was the equation of fire with evil. Look, these poor suckers happen to live in a live volcano. Does that automatically make them the villains? Apparently, yes. Probably all those volcanic fumes doing something nefarious to their brains. Still, it's a worn-out trope and it did make me snort a bit.
Once again, I'm here all the way in this episode. With the continuing introduction of new characters, I liked that the series is letting you sit with each one for a little bit... except for the Wens, really. And that Xue Yang character. I'm sure we'll get more in the next episodes.
I've seen it before.
Anyway, see you next week for Episode Four.