So, WWX has left the village which house Mo Manor, and that ill-fated family behind. We meet him on the road, riding a donkey. He stops to rest at a well, and is later joined by a large group of travellers. He moves aside and overhears an argument between two of the travellers. You see, one of them is in possession of a compass designed by WWX in his first life. His companion calls into question the compass, a small argument ensues in which we learn that the owner of the compass considers WWX his idol - which makes for a refreshing change from all the horrible things that have been said about the unfortunate un-deceased.
In this scene, we meet an unfortunate young woman named Yan, whose tragic story factors into the plot of the episode rather heavily. She's not all there, you see, because of a soul-stealing statue. But more on that later. She makes friends with WWX's donkey, who is now called Apple because of her. Anyway, her calling Apple unfortunately drags WWX into the open from his hiding spot where he'd been observing a young member of the Jin Clan refuse to release the people trapped in the nets he set in order to try and capture whatever soul-stealing monster has been causing problems in the area recently.
The young Jin recognizes WWX as Mo Xuyanu - the man who was cast out of the Jin Clan and later sacrificed his body to bring WWX back to life. There is a small confrontation, in which WWX uses his 'tricks' to pin the young Jin to the ground. The young Jin threatens WWX with hell to pay when his uncle gets here. That same said uncle shows up just moments after WWX enquires as to who that might be and why it should make him scared.
Oh shit, his uncle is Jiang Cheng - the guying purple from the beginning of episode one who killed WWX.
His disposition has not improved. He's a dick to both WWX and his nephew. When he discovers that WWX used a trick created by the Yiling Patriarch (another name for WWX in his first life), he encourages his nephew to skewer WWX with his sword. For his part, the young Jin tries, but is thwarted at the last second by a very familiar blue energy crescent, which batts the sword away.
LWJ is near.
He shows up with all the young cultivators in tow. They're apparently here to find the soul-stealing monster, too.
WWX hides and now LWJ and Jiang Cheng have their own confrontation. They really don't like one another. It's ultimately resolved, though, and they parties all split up. WWX barely escapes. He learns shortly after that the young Jin is Jin Ying - his sister's son. He's the boy's uncle, too. He immediately regrets his harsh words to the boy on their first meeting.
Anyway, as it turns out, WWX is apparently also looking for the soul-stealing monster, and so ends up in the temple where there is a rock shaped like a dancing woman along with the young cultivators and Jin Ying.
The rock comes to life and starts attacking.
WWX recalls that this shouldn't be possible, as this very rock was sealed by him and LWJ in his first life. In any case, everyone flees before the dancing-now-marauding-woman rock. They manage to escape back down the mountain, where we learn Yan's tragic story and how it relates to this rock. One of the cultivators clues in that WWX isn't actually mad, as he's pretended to date.
For some reason, there is a cut in there to a tea pavilion where Jiang Cheng and LWJ are both sitting, and the angry tension between them is pretty damned intense. They really don't like one another.
Back at the mountain, WWX realises that Jin Ying isn't here. The foolish boy has attacked the rock, retreating slowly down the mountain with his two retainers. Unable to do much else, the rest of the folks at the foot of the mountain join in the fight.
Never mind, WWX is just going to carve a flute real quick.
With his newly carved flute, WWX begins to play a song and, from the forest at the side of the road jumps a pale figure with chains with black eyes and weird black veins all over his neck. WWX recognizes him as Wen Ning immediately, revealing that the man was supposed to be dead. In the short, flute-directed fight against the rock, it's discovered that the dancing woman rock thing was actually not a monster at all, just an illusion. Afterwards, someone recognises Wen Ning as the Ghost General.
In a bid to save him, WWX picks up his flute again, and compels the zombie Wen Ning to fight the crowd that is now trying to cut him down. Realizing he's been a bit overzealous in his playing, risking death to the folks there, WWX changes tactics and plays a recognizable tune (if you've been paying attention to the music to date), drawing the zombie to him and away from the group. He backs up, right into LWJ.
LWJ grabs WWX's wrist and for an aching moment the two just stare at one another.
With Wen Ning starting to stir again, WWX plays again, banishing Wen Ning back to the forest. He then drops the flute and grabs a hold of LWJ's wrist himself, and then the pair are just standing there, holding on to one another, staring at each other. You can just tell that LWJ recognizes WWX, and it's so fecking sweet and heartbreaking, guys.
It's revealed to him that Wen Ning turned up and that WWX summoned him. Jiang Cheng goes to whip WWX with his purple electric whip bracelet thing, but is blocked by LWJ.
No one whips his man. No, sir!
Except WWX proves to be exceedingly dense and tries to run away and gets whipped all the same.
Apparently, the whipping didn't do what Jiang Cheng wanted it to do. On second viewing, there could be a couple of reasons for that, but needless to say, the fact that the purple electric whip didn't dispel WWX from his body means that he can't have returned because the only way the dead can return is to possess someone else's body - which would be remedied by a lick of Jiang Cheng's whip.
And then we begin an epic multi-episode flashback.
In the beginning of this flashback, which takes up the rest of the episode, we see that Jiang Cheng and WWX were, in fact, very close. There was some tension, as there usually is with siblings, but they were fast friends. It was them, and their older sister Jiang Yanli - the closest siblings you'd ever seen. On second watching, knowing the shit this poor family is put through, and how the relationships fracture and break, it's incredibly bittersweet. I tried to enjoy it for a bit, but my heart was breaking the entire time.
What I Liked
Okay, without a doubt my favourite moment in this whole episode is the mutual wrist grab moment. It's such a brief moment, but both the actors conveyed so much in it. It's so incredibly sweet, more so on my second viewing, but it absolutely stuck with me on the first viewing, too. It's just so. damned. good.
In my first viewing, the flashback beginning was interesting to me, but it gained new weight on the second viewing. I love that the show can stand up to multiple viewings in this way, each scene bringing something new with it; some baggage that changes the tone for the viewer without changing anything at all. It's really well done.
What Could Have Been Better
Uh... nothing. I don't think that there's really anything that could be done to improve this episode. It felt slower than the first, but then, there weren't any huge battles or suicides or other impossible drama. But there were wonderful small moments.
And that wrist grab.
It still squeezes at my heart.
Honestly, I'm still stuck on that wrist grab scene.
M'kay, overall, a slower episode, but not without its own action and intrigue. A worthy successor, I think, to the first episode.