Winter Begonia’s latest episodes plunged us right into a tornado of problems, plaguing our main leads Shang Xi Rui and Cheng Feng Tai. The current episodes focused on Shang Xi Rui’s childhood while Cheng Feng Tai faces the Japanese forces invading Beiping.
–Edited by TheFNGee
Although separated at times, Shang Xi Rui and Cheng Feng Tai always reunite to tide over the issues together and work against the Japanese forces. Let’s continue on our journey of this hit drama which is gaining widespread popularity.
Cheng Feng Tai leaves for Shanghai to solve some major business issues. Mrs. Cheng visits Shui Yun House and takes over control. Shang Xi Rui is at his wit’s end trying to appease her and as a last resort, runs off to Shanghai. The whole situation is so hilarious; you can’t help but laugh. Ning Jiu Lang asks Shang to represent him at the Opera Circle meeting in Shanghai. Liu Dan Qiu is introduced as Shang’s junior who receives him at the station. We later get to know that he is actually Zeng Ai Yu’s brother. She is Fan Lian’s mistress. At the Shanghai Opera Circle Meeting, Shang is deeply influenced by Boss Jang’s Kungqu performance and requests to join him in an Opera Play. When Boss Jang introduces Shang to Zeng Ai Yu, he feels a connection with her. Later, Shang Xi Rui reunites with Cheng Feng Tai at his Shanghai residency.
When Cheng Feng Tai drops Shang Xi Rui at the Shanghai theater for his rehearsal, he chances upon Zeng Ai Yu, and both are shocked. Shang realizes that the Pheonix pendant that Zeng Ai Yu wears to quite similar to the broken pendant that he has. The pendant is the only memory of his childhood before he was adopted by his late father. He has a nightmare and next morning visits Zeng Ai Yu. Zeng recounts how she lost her brother during an opera performance. The story makes him recollect everything. He is overwhelmed as he realizes that Zeng Ai Yu is actually his biological sister, and as such, Feng Yi is his niece.
Shang shares the details with Cheng Feng Tai, but they can’t figure out the mystery behind Liu Dan Qiu. They dig deeper and find out that Dan Qiu owed huge amounts of due to a gangster. When Zeng Ai arrived in the town two years back, the gangster introduced her to Dan Qiu knowingly so that they could dope her. Believing their words, Zeng Ai went to Beiping and became Fan Lian’s mistress. Shang is appalled to know about the hardships that his sister had to face for a fake brother. As Zeng Ai is about to leave town with Dan Qiu, Shang accosts him and tells him everything. Since Zeng Ai hates opera performances, Shang can’t tell her the truth. He warns Dan Qiu to take care of her and with a heavy heart parts ways with his sister.
Just as Shang gets over the separation with his sister, new problems ensue. Chen Ren Xiang’s mistress finds them and takes them to meet him. The former Opera Maestro is severely injured and in bad shape. He has stopped performing and has got addicted to alcohol. We learn about how Boss Chen fell for a rich family’s girl. They were separated by the family goons who broke Boss Chen’s leg. Shang Xi Rui breaks through his walls and encourages him to perform again. But things go south when the depressed Boss Chen commits suicide on the stage.
Difficulties can’t keep away from our Opera Maestro. A new character is introduced, XueZhi Cheng. He is Japanese and seems to be a huge fan of Shang Xi Rui’s Opera Performance. He invites Shang Xi Rui and Master Du for dinner. At the dinner, XueZhi Cheng performs Japanese Opera. Shang isn’t impressed and wears a Kimono to redo the performance in Chinese Style.
Mrs. Cheng finally figures out the truth apart Feng Yi’s true parentage. She forgives Cheng Feng Fai, and as such, after a long reprieve, he returns home. She tells him to bring Feng Yi home so she would be bought up in the Cheng’s Mansion. But Cheng explains the story behind Shang Xi Rui’s childhood. Shang Xi Rui, on the other hand, returns home and is overwhelmed to see Feng Yi. He takes over caring for the little girl.
In the following days, the Japanese forces invade and occupy Beiping. Commander Cao is actually working with his son to overthrow the Japanese forces. Yu Qing returns home and turns a journalist reporting against the Japanese. While other troupes cancel their shows, Shang Xi Rui keeps performing and donates to the press reporting against the Japanese.
Unfortunately, events occur. Xiao Lai is killed while trying to save a little girl from being raped by the Japanese soldiers. Shang goes berserk and goes to the Japanese Headquarters. But Mrs. Cheng reaches there on time and manages to calm him down. It seems that Shang had promised a posthumous marriage proposal to Xiao Lai. So he decides to marry her and then bury her corpse at their family burial grounds.
The ruthless Japanese in an attempt to control the Opera Circle decide to form a new Chinese-Japanese Opera Circle. They dismiss President Jiang and choose Ning Jiu Lang as the new President. Unable to refuse them directly, Jiu Lang decides to become a monk instead. Lord Qi moves out of town, and they both have a painful separation. Shang Xi Rui is beyond consolation, but he accepts the painful reality.
Japanese next target Hou Yu Kai by arresting his son and forcing him to perform Operas. It enrages him, and his already weak health condition weakens. The Japanese force all major troupes to sign an agreement with them, but Shang Xi Rui refuses. They are about to shoot Shang, but XueZhi Cheng rushes to help. A press photographer meets Shang Xi Rui and offers him a deal for his photographs with Xue Zhi Cheng. But Shang Xi Rui refuses the deal.
Colonel Sakata, the Japanese Head, enters the scene at this crucial point. He seems to hold a major grudge against Cheng Feng Tai. Knowing that Shang Xi Rui is his weakness, Colonel Sakata forces Cheng Feng Tai to ferry their goods against the mountain terrains. At the same time, some author is writing and circulating scandalous books about Shang Xi Rui. Xi Rui’s elder brother Shang Long Sheng arrives, and we are treated to a marvelous martial arts fight between them. I was actually stunned when Sheng easily subdues Xi Rui.
He has read the infamous book and has arranged Xi Rui’s marriage to save the family name. Xi Rui stubbornly refuses, and Cheng Feng Tai has to intervene. The next day, Hou Yu Kai dies, and despite being popular, very few arrive at his home to pay their last respect. Shang Xi Rui takes the “Best Performer” plague and lays it down as a gift to Hou Yu Kai’s memory. President Jiang tries to provoke him to take up the position of the President, Chinese-Japanese Opera Circle. But Shang Xi Rui’s figures out the treachery and berates him.
Finally, Cheng Feng Tai comes to know about the photographs, and he is angry. As he is leaving with the Japanese troops, he tells Shang Xi Rui to lie low. When Xi Rui is performing on stage, some roofies distribute the photos, and the audience gets enraged. They beat Shang Xi Rui, who is stunned by their reaction. He gets really sick and starts having hearing problems, and is temporarily impaired.
Cheng Feng Tai meets with Cao GuiXiu when Gu Da Li kidnaps them along with the consignment. Cao GuiXiu advises Feng Tai to lie low for now and deliver the goods on time. He wants to use Cheng Feng Tai’s Liuxiandong to blow up Kujo, the Commander of the Japanese forces. Feng Tai agrees and, after successfully delivering the goods, returns home. It is only then that he learns about the problem at Shui Yun House. He goes searching for Xi Rui, to find him in a brothel. Xi Rui is drunk and has decided to give up on his performances. But Cheng Feng Tai somehow convinces him otherwise.
Chemistry between the Main Leads
Joy and Happiness! These are the two expressions that come to my mind when Shang Xi Rui reunites with Cheng Feng Tai in Shanghai. The hug and wide smiles that follow betray their closeness. Shang Xi Rui’s gifts Cheng Feng Tai with a photograph of both them in front of a Begonia tree, and on the backside, it is written “Soulmates.” I might have cried a little because I was overwhelmed.
Cheng Feng Tai becomes his rock and support when the reality of Zeng Ai Yu becomes apparent. He even becomes the voice of reason when an enraged Shang Xi Rui thinks of killing Liu Dan Qiu. I just love their dynamics. Even though Shang Xi Rui is angry, and most people would avoid him in such a situation, Cheng Feng Tai doesn’t back down. It is really surprising how even Boss Jang notices their closeness and comments, “Mr. Cheng does everything for You. Is there anyone in this world, who could so be caring. You are wayward. But when something happens, you ask him for advice, and Mr. Cheng takes decisions for you.“
My personal favorite is, however, the scene in Episode 33. Cheng Feng Tai and Shang Xi Rui are walking down the street, and Xi Rui asks him why he watches Shun Yui House’s Opera performances. Cheng Feng Tai almost spells out a confession “I only watch yours, because the roles you play are so vivid. When you are on stage, the souls enter your body to portray their former life. When you are offstage, the stories still remain. Everybody says that nature person with a fine spirit like you can only be observed from far. Only I, Cheng Feng Tai, can do everything to accompany you.“
Shang Xi Rui is appropriately stunned. This whole dialogue is so honest that I’m still speechless.
Cheng Feng Tai misjudges Shang Xi Rui’s insistence on performing as his childish whim. But later, when Shang Xi Rui explains that he wants one-tenth of their revenue to Yu Qing’s press, Feng Tai feels proud of Shang Xi Rui and also apologizes for belittling him. Their relationship is of equals, and both apologize when they are in the wrong.
The most painful moment comes when Xiao Lai dies, and Shang Xi Rui decides to marry her corpse. Cheng Feng Tai is unable to accept the decision. But when Shang Xi Rui breaks down, Cheng Feng Tai tearfully consents. At that moment, you can see a world of expression in Cheng Feng Tai’s eyes. Huang Xiao Ming certainly stole the show with his silent expressions.
Obviously, every relationship has its ups and downs. When Shang Xi Rui decides to perform an Opera Play on rebellion unknowingly, it gives Colonel Sakata the perfect opportunity to blackmail Feng Tai. Feng Tai loses his calm, and they have a huge showdown. But things get settled down sooner than later. Cheng Feng Tai is especially worried when he sees Xi Rui fight a losing battle with his skilled elder brother. He literally wants to get in between them to stop the fight. He also intervenes when Long Shen beats Xi Rui for refusing to marry. The second time, Cheng Feng Tai loses his calm is when he learns about the scandalous photographs showing Xi Rui in a Kimono with Japanese in a hotel. But he is worried about the situation going out of control in his absence. He really doesn’t want to leave Xi Rui alone, and you can feel his concern. Obviously, things go south in Feng Tai’s absence, and Shang Xi Rui can’t seem to tide over his problems. But these two are a unified force, and I’m sure Cheng Feng Tai will pull Xi Rui out of his flunk soon. They are each other’s best strengths.
For now, I leave you here with these heavy emotional moments as we move toward the finale episodes. I’m a little scared of what will happen as the Japanese forces plot to gain control over Beiping, how would their plans affect our main leads and their relationship? Will it survive and persist? Keep watching this space for further updates on the finale episodes!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars [See our Review Guide]