I admit that when I first started watching this show, it was specifically to judge the viable chemistry between the main lead characters Tang Fan and Sui Zhou. Of course, being dubbed as “Bromance” doesn’t leave much space for that. However, I’m certainly appreciative of how the show’s Producers daringly depicted their relationship. Let’s review Episodes 41 to 48 to learn more about the events transpiring in the Ming Dynasty.
– Edited by TheFNGee
Unlike other Chinese Bromance dramas, where we have frequent substitutions of male leads by females to mislead or distort the truth, this show had no such major flaw. The web drama’s finale left me with bittersweet feelings, but they were good feelings indeed.
The finale episodes begin with the introduction of General Gao, a prisoner of war released by the Oirats as a gesture of peace after being held prisoner for 30 years. He saved the current Emperor’s father by risking his own life. Gao was an acclaimed General in the Ming Army and is averted the Legend status for his accomplishments. Problems ensue when his wife refuses to accept him and asserts that her husband is long dead. Also, our trio has doubts of their own as General Gao does seem shady. His sudden release makes them skeptical.
Tang Fan thoroughly investigates the issue and figures out that, indeed, General Gao isn’t an imposter. Mrs. Gao had an illegitimate son from an extra-marital affair after the General’s disappearance for 30 years. To hide her grave mistake, she uses legal means to obfuscate the infidelity by adopting her own son. However, General Gao magnanimously understands her predicament and accepts her son as his own. At the dinner feast with the Emperor, he strongly opposes the position that Wang Zhi holds and the subsequent power surge. He might be generous with his wife but continues holding prejudices against the eunuchs working in the Palace.
Tang Fan finds himself in trouble again when he follows General Gao and figures out his true intentions. General Gao, though tortured by the Oirats, was later entrusted with caring for Amasanj, the King of Oirat’s second son. He seems to have fought many battles for them. Although the Oirat King’s elder son Borona Halle wants peace with the Ming, Amasanj is colluding with Li Zilong. Gao, as such, is here to stop Amasanj’s plans. Tang Fan and Gao plan to win Li Zilong’s trust. Gao exchanges Tang for information. Li Zilong then tells General Gao about his plans to assassinate the Emperor.
While Gao might not trust Wang Zhi, but he does believe in Tang Fan. He goes to the Western Depot and surrenders himself. He delivers the message and also lets them know that Tang Fan sacrificed himself to get this information. Wang Zhi hastily draws a plan to block the attempts to prevent the Emperor from being harmed at the Spring Blossoms festival. Sui Zhou helps him but is increasingly worried about Tang Fan as well.
To figure out the location of the Bolangs that are under Wang Zhi’s security, Li Zilong cleverly uses Tang Fan. He asks Fan to choose between the million people Zilong plans to kill or the Emperor. Unknowingly, Tang Fan falls for the trap, and Li Zilong steals all the Bolangs from the Western Depot secret house.
They may have disagreements, but our dynamic trio tries their hardest to secure the Palace. However, Li Zilong’s plans are too far advanced to be halted completely. He lights up the night sky with Bolangs tied to Chinese Lanterns. Tang Fan, along the group of skilled Oirat archers, takes care of the Bolangs while Sui Zhou fights the rebels. Wang Zhi drugs the Emperor and hides him at the Huanyi Brothel, not exactly an ideal hideout.
However, Wang Zhi’s plans are foiled when it becomes apparent that Prime Minister Wan An, Commander Wan, and Commander Shang have all joined hands with Li Ziong to murder the Emperor. Thus begins a cat and mouse chase, where Wang Zhi is declared dead, and Tang Fan is branded as a fugitive. Sui Zhou safely escorts the Emperor to the monastery, where the Yu family members take care of him.
Wang Zhi is still alive, as it was his imposter who got killed. Both Tang Fan and Wang Zhi disguise themselves as beggars carefully craft a plot to rescue and take the Emperor back to the Palace. However, their plans are foiled by Qingge, Li Zilong’s foster daughter. Wang Zhi is shocked beyond doubt when his right-hand man, Ding Rong, colludes with Commander Shang to imprison him. Betrayal at its worst.
Tables turn when Consort Wan decides to rescue the Emperor, with help from the Empress Dowager. She sends her warriors to rescue Wang Zhi and JiaKui, who successfully imprison both Ding Rong and Commander Shang. Sui Zhou seeks help from Marquise Wu An, and with assistance from the Oirat archers, they successfully defeat Li Zilong. Peace is restored, as the Emperor returns to the Palace safely and decrees to let Wang Zhi now lead the militia. The show ends on an interesting note when Dr. Pei rushes into Sui Zhou’s home to tell them about the rampant mysterious deaths happening in his hometown. Does that mean there are chances for a Season 2?
The Chemistry Between the Main Leads
The finale episodes were filled with thrilling twists and didn’t allow for much romance between our main leads. However, they managed to find their way back to each other despite all the odds. Some cute moments, however, were sprinkled around. Like in this scene, Tang Fan is still under Li Zilong’s custody, and Sui Zhou is obviously worried. It’s really comical when he tells Wuyun, with a straight face, “I need to find him soon and take him home for dinner.”
Li Zilong releases Tang Fan with the single Bolang in his possession and hurts his shoulder. Fan limps and rushes out, only to find Sui Zhou stationed at the end of the road. The way they run towards each other while Sui Zhou catches a wounded Tang Fan will always be the most romantic scene ever. The emotions playing on their face, along with the flashbacks of their memories, reveals the true nature of their relationship. No doubts that they are in love.
Fu MengPo, in their reaction video, admitted that during this scene, they both grabbed their phones to play some accompanying music while shooting. Darren Chen, on the other hand, was very shy when he confessed, “I think both Tang Fan and I had the same feelings, that we are glad to meet this person.” That bought a broad smile on Fu MengPo’s face.
When Sui Zhou seeks shelter at the monastery along with the Emperor, despite being in the safe haven, his obvious worries about Tang Fan never cease. It was surprising to see Lady Yu help them out because, at this point, it’s quite apparent that Tang Fan is more than a friend to Sui Zhou.
Even though Tang Fan falls for Li Zilong’s trap and Wang Zhi is annoyed, Sui Zhou doesn’t stop supporting him. The next morning he cooks a scrumptious meal for Tang Fan and encourages him to bounce back. Wang Zhi might be enraged, but Sui advises Tang not to give up hope, and they still have to protect the Emperor. Their relationship is so beautiful because this is the same Sui Zhou, who virtually lost his sanity with Tang Fan’s previous absence. Tang, despite all his flaws, brings a unique kind of calm and peace to Sui Zhou’s life.
Actor Liu Yuo Yuan as Wang Zhi lamented the fact that Ding Rong betrays his character. He was shocked when he read this scene in the script because these characters have been together through thick and thin. Ding Rong has saved Wang Zhi’s life a countless number of times. When asked if Ding Rong and Wang Zhi had feelings for each other, Liu answered that they definitely did. He further explains, “Ding Rong is a very competent person, if you let such a person work for someone else, you will definitely be in crisis. So, Wang Zhi always kept him close.”
When the main leads were asked to share their final message with the fans, Darren Chen replied, “Tang Fan is a person with a lot of flaws, despite that he is an awesome person. He treats everyone with sincerity, and although there were a lot of misunderstandings, I think Tang Fan grew up a lot”.
Fu MengPo stresses more on the importance of their two character’s relationships. “When I read the screenplay, I was impressed with Sui Zhou and Tang Fan’s relationship. They have a lot of differences, yet they perfectly complement each other. Hence, Sui will always protect Tang Fan. Because his love for Tang is deeper than familial relations.”
MY OPINION ABOUT THIS DRAMA
Period dramas are usually not my cup of tea. I avoid them as much as possible, and yet here I am, reviewing my second Chinese Bromance drama. This show might not have raked up the requisite television ratings, but it still remains a fan favorite. While we have heard a lot about the lead actor Darren Chen’s lack of acting skills, I beg to differ.
In my opinion (Editor’s note: Me too), Darren Chen was flawless in his portrayal of Tang Fan. I cannot imagine someone else playing this gullible yet adorable character. Fan might seem to be a glutton, a wondrously ironic conceit considering his size, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is kind, caring, and truly loyal to the Ming Dynasty. His intelligence stems from his innate ability to judge situations, and he rarely makes mistakes. That’s why Tang Fan is the Sleuth!
Fu Meng Po, on the other hand, plays the competent Sui Zhou with a performance that truly comes to life. He shines in the fighting scenes, and that’s saying a lot when you are being trained by Jackie Chan’s martial arts team. However, I prefer watching him work in the kitchen, where his skill with creating meals, along with those wonderful camera shots, fascinate. Sui is the happiest person on Earth when he cooks for the people he loves. Tang Fan and Dong have become an integral part of his life, so much so that Dong couldn’t bring herself to separate from either of them. I truly enjoyed watching them become a family.
Liu Yuo Yuan’s character surprised me the most. When the show started, I was so sure that he is the villain. I was almost ready to start hating him. But as the show progressed and I got to watch Wang Zhi more, I truly appreciated the significance of this character. He is like the thread tying Tang Fan and Sui Zhou together, the one person who always saves the day.
His relationship with Consort Wan is unparalleled. They may not say it, but Wan considers him as her son, and Wang Zhi would die for her. The extension of this devotion is the basis for Wang Zhi’s unquestioning loyalty to the Emperor. He would sacrifice everything and anything to protect the Emperor and the Ming Dynasty.
However, Wang Zhi also has a softer side, which we get to see when he is playing with Tang Fan or enjoying a conversation with Dong. His odd friendship with Dong is one of the show’s highlights. The little girl’s intelligence draws him in, and he appreciates her for her talents. The scene where he delivers the news about Tang Fan’s abduction to Dong is unforgettable. Sitting there, listening to her talking about family might make him nostalgic and sad, but still, he gathers the courage to give her the news.
I could probably go on, but let me sum it up by saying that this show gave me a lot of life lessons. Tang Fan taught me how to be street-smart and never give up trying. Sui Zhou teaches us what true dedication and love are, and it can be directed towards your work and family. Wang Zhi not only gave us valuable lessons on loyalty but also on how to turn unfavorable situations into your advantage.
The web drama wasn’t just about Tang Fan and Sui Zhou’s palpable chemistry but also the family they gathered. From Dong, who unknowingly becomes an important part of their lives, to Tang Yu and Dr. Pei’s adorable love story, Dora’s sacrificing her life to save Tang Fan to Wuyun, standing guard over Fan because that’s what his Aha would have demanded. The show redefines relationships to the extent that it even turns the stoic, cunning Wang Zhi into a fluffy mass of emotions. The Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty will forever be etched in our minds for the various unique characters that added a touch of reality and an ounce of emotions to make this potboiler truly amazing.
A good ending is always the start of new beginnings. Here’s hoping that we get to watch Season Two soon ! I’m leaving you here with a short message from Darren Chen to Tang Fan expressing his gratitude.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]