It's the beginning to get really bad.
Honestly, the flashback arc is my favourite, for what will become obvious reasons to those who know me.
Cut to Wen Qing and her brother Wen Ning. Wen Ning asks after WWX, wondering if they're at the indoctrination. His sister tells him that they'll never be friends and to stay away from WWX and LWJ. Wen Ning protests. WWX is a nice person, and he saved Wen Ning's life. Wen Qing does not budge.
Back at the housing, WWX is actually reading the proverbs while Jiang Cheng unpacks. He notes the hypocrisy of the Wens, as one of their tenets is that no one should "do evil. Evildoers will be executed and decapitated, their heads displayed as a warning." He notes that if that were true, the Nightless City would have more heads on pikes than pigs. Meanwhile, Jiang Cheng finds the comb he had bought for Wen Qing back when they were both students in the Cloud Recesses. He asks after Wen Qing, and WWX notes that they'll probably not be able to see her. The Wen Clan is so petty. That's how he makes the realization that something isn't right - why would the Wen Clan only bring LWJ from the Cloud Recesses. Something terrible must have happened. He runs to the door to go speak with LWJ, and that's how they discover they're actually prisoners. Two guards at the door. They can go nowhere and are not permitted to speak to one another.
Day two of the indoctrination, and LWJ, WWX and Jin Zuxian are called on to begin reciting the Wen Clan proverbs. LWJ states he cannot. So too does Jin Zuxian. WWX eagerly and cheerfully volunteers. AND THEN BEGINS RECITING THE 3000 RULES OF THE LAN CLAN.
At the punishment, though, LWJ isn't speaking. Not to WWX. Not to anybody. So, in order to try and get him to talk, WWX grabs LWJ on the shoulder, and his hand is immediately whipped by Wen Chao, who shows up. He demands to know what WWX and LWJ were whispering about. WWX tell him they were whispering about how the dung they have to shovel smells just like Wen Chao.
WWX gets whipped once, and this time Jin Zuxian even speaks up for him. Wen Chao tries to whip WWX once more, but this time LWJ catches the whip and pulls it out of Wen Chao's grasp. He doesn't say anything. He just stares coldly at Wen Chao. Wish I could find the .gif of that. Deciding this just isn't on, Jin Zuxian stops what he's doing and comes to WWX side, too. Am I starting to like this peacock? Am I?
Wen Chao concludes that WWX must have been trying to glean information about the location of LWJ's fragment of the Yin Iron, noting that the Wen Clan has it, because LWJ gave it up. Further, Wen Chao says that Xue Yang doesn't have the fourth fragment, and doesn't know where it is. If he doesn't know, then it must be that WWX has hidden it somewhere. WWX tells him to get serious. Wen Chao commands his guards to take WWX to the dungeon. LWJ puts himself between the guards and WWX again, but WWX ends up going voluntarily.
This was a mistake. As it turns out, WWX's cell has a guest already. A giant black dog. Remember, WWX is terrified of dogs, and this one is giant and mean. Wen Chao tells him that if he survives the night, he will consider WWX's punishment complete.
And if not, well, that was your own damned fault for being such a smart-ass.
Well, RIP WWX. Just kidding. But almost.
We cut to
Anyway, we cut to Jiang Cheng, who demands of his room guards to know where his brother is. There's almost a fight, but then Wen Qing shows up and dismisses the guards. There's quite a sweet moment between them. It's clear that Jiang Cheng has quite the crush on her. They ask each other in unison where Wei Wuxian is, and Wen Qing realizes where he must have been taken. She turns to leave. Jiang Cheng stops her and asks if Wen Ruohan was harsh on her. She says instead that she'll do her best (to help Wei Wuxian, it is heavily implied).
Having survived, WWX is returned to the indoctrination classes, but not before he challenges Wen Chao to a duel, despite looking (and probably feeling) like death. Once back with his peers, Wen Chao makes some announcements. The Lan Clan is considered rebels, and Nie Mingjue has sided with them. When Nie Huaisang demands to know what happened to his brother, Wen Chao heavily implies that he was killed in a clash.
Then Wen Chao threatens the Jiang Clan, calling the Clan Leader (Jiang Cheng's father) a coward, saying he can't wait to invade Yumeng. In a twist, WWX is forced to restrain his brother, who's temper threatens to make him do something rash that would cause problems.
The following day, while the cultivators are unenthusiastically reading the Wen Principles out loud, except LWJ, who isn't even looking at his paper. He's just brooding silently. As he does. Wen Chao is informed that there is a problem near one of the mountains that the Wen Clan cultivators have been unsuccessful in resolving. He decides to use his hostages as a meat shield and take them all on a night hunt.
Off they go. Wen Chao is sharing his horse with a young lady, and there is a whole lot of PDAs happening there. Gross. Get a room you two.
WWX notices that LWJ is limping, and in pain.
LWJ, being a dolt, insists that he's fine. WWX will not let him get away with it, tells him to stop pretending, and then offers to carry him
And that's where we end the episode.
What I Liked
WWX and LWJ are back together, and this time LWJ is much more protective, showing some fondness, even though he remains stoic and stone-faced. I'm enjoying all the small things that I didn't notice the last time - Nie Huaisang is getting bolder, making demands and using his voice. Jiang Cheng is showing his jealous nature more, which will be important later on. WWX is still being a brat to folks he considers bullies, but there's a slight dampening of his impish spirit after the dog incident.
It's small, incremental things that this series permits itself that I'm enjoying the most. Fifty episodes seems long, but with a tighter schedule, it would be difficult to let the characters and story breath and stretch like this.
What Could Have Been Better
There really isn't much to be improved upon, other than, perhaps the odd ending again. It would have been better to end the episode with Wen Chao musing about how he has a bunch of meat shields, rather than just as the night hunt is about to begin, but again, I mean... that's a small gripe.
An even smaller gripe is the giant dog. It was a little goofy, but I really do admire that they decided to do practical effects for this one. And honestly, Xiao Zhan (the bloke who plays WWX) really sold the wounds that resulted from a tussle with the animal, so there isn't much of a problem at all.
Story-wise, it's still great.
Next week, it gets both more awesome and impossibly silly.