So after reading an article saying that netizens are complaining about the ugly male leads, I decided to take a look. Honestly, it was very difficult to keep waiting for the episodes to come out since I was used to chinese dramas being released daily. So I decided to watch the episodes that are already out and if I hated it, I would stop thinking about it. I went into this drama with poor expectations because it didn’t make the top 10 drama ranking however I am now on episode six and I am sadly proclaiming that I am addicted. (FYI Hu Ge’s drama The Disguiser ranked number 1) I am writing the first episode recap of Yunge From the Desert because I can’t get this drama out of my head.
The drama starts off with the young Meng Jun watching as his younger brother is being executed. Due to some withcraft incident, Prince Wei and the Empress was sentenced to death. Prince Wei used his own son to replace him and the Empress hanged herself.
While standing in the crowd of spectators, the young Meng Jun tries to see his brother once last time before he dies, but is held back by his mother. (it is unclear whether Prince Wei escaped death or died and I am also unsure of whether Meng Jun and his mother was pardoned death). A carriage carrying the young Liu Fu Ling with her mother passes by and he accidentally drops a ball.
Meng Jun picks up the ball only to be commanded by Fu Ling to return the ball and guards reprimand the civilians for not bowing to the sixth prince. Meng Jun’s mom quickly gives the ball back and later tells Meng Jun not to be so careless but Meng Jun is held up on the fact that it is Fu Ling’s father that caused his brother to die. Hatred is embedded in the young Meng Jun’s mind and he will remember this for the rest of his life.
Emperor Wu coronates the six year old Liu Fu Ling as the crown prince and to prevent his wife’s family from interfering in political matters, he sentences Liu Fu Ling’s mom, Zhao Jieyu, to death.
Liu Fuling wakes up from his nightmare of witnessing his mother being dragged away to her death. He blames himself for his mother’s death, because if he wasn’t the crown prince, his mother wouldn’t have died.
He has been lost in the desert for 7 days and a sandstorm destroys his troop of people. A young girl dressed in a lime green dress approaches the him. Thinking that she is his mother he grabs onto her but after coming to his senses, he flings her away. Sensing that his master is being disrespected, Snow, the wolf bites Liu Fuling but after seeing that that Fuling is dehydrated from the heat, she tells Snow to stop and gives him some water.
She pulls out her waterlily-embroidered pouch and puts medicine on the bite wound. Seeing that the girl means no harm, Fu Ling lowers his guard. We find out that the girl is the young Yunge and she came out to find ingredients to cook with. Fuling’s servant, uncle Zhao, finally finds Fu Ling after being separated from him but before they could talk more, a sandstorm comes along and Yunge instructs them to hold onto each other’s hand to not be separated.
They are blown to a different part of the desert and when they regain consciousness Yunge discovers a lake which they quickly head towards to get a sip of water.
However after getting a sip of water, a women with a mask, emerges from the lake, accusing them of stealing water that belongs to their city. Yunge is awestruck at such a beautiful lady and calls her a fairy. Upon seeing Yunge, the women with a mask mistakens her for someone she knows named Nuo Yian but Yunge corrects her that she is not Nuo Yian but Yunge.
Suddenly assassins emerge out of the sand trying to kill them but uncle Zhao comes just in time to fight off the assassins. Yunge tells the fairy to be careful. Seeing that she is kind-hearted, she tells her people to stop the fighting and offers them to stay at her city: the city of No Tears.
While entering the eerie city, Fu Ling points out that there are mud statues of a couple all around the city. We find out that the lady with the mask used to live happily with a girl that looks just like Yunge. She is certain that Yunge is Nuo Yian and does not plan on letting Yunge leave the city.
While roaming around the city, she picks up a ball from a group of performers that were practicing. Fu Ling seeing that she likes the ball, he tells her that he will buy the ball for her. However the ball belonged to Meng Jun who was in the midst of practicing and he recognizes Fuling, so he coldly tells them that he will not be selling the ball. Yunge asks Meng Jun if he knows if there is a nice place in the city for them to play which another performer joins the conversation and tells them to check out Mu Yuet Palace since there are festive music coming from there every night.
It is now night time and there are many performances taking place inside the Mu Yuet palace. The City leader decides to get uncle Zhao drunk since he was guarding over Yunge so she can proceed with her plans. She asks uncle Zhao a riddle: what is square like a field but sells for a tong chian. It is a type of food. (tong chian is a currency used in the past similar to a dime or nickle).
Uncle Zhao is having a hard time answering the riddle. Fu Ling gives him a hint, prompting him to give out the correct answer of tofu but this angers the City leader. Sensing that she is not pleased, the uncle Zhao drinks the wine since he wouldn’t have known the answer if the children didn’t help him out. Pleased that they are falling into her trap, she signals for the next performance.
Meng Jun is being chained to a spinning board while the troupe leader throws daggers at him. He accurately throws the daggers without missing him but seeing the scars on Meng Jun’s face, Yunge couldn’t bear to watch the performance any longer. She asks to place the troupe leader on the board instead so she can perform the same trick. This excites the city leader and they follow her instructions
Meng Jun appreciates Yunge for getting the troupe leader to get a taste of his own medicine.
In the middle of the night, they hear screams coming from the Mu Yuet palace. They try to wake uncle Zhao but he is completely passed out. Fu Ling and Yunge goes inside the Mu Yuet palace to find out what was happening.
Inside, they find lots of mud sculpture. When Yunge touches one of them, the candles are blow out and Yunge is abducted. While running around trying to find Yunge, Fu Ling discovers a boiling pot of mud that is used to preserve a live person into a mud sculpture.
He realizes that they are in danger and desperately searches for Yunge. However the City leader calmly appears asking why he is making so much noise in her palace and accuses him of being a thief for being in her palace at such a late hour. Just then, Uncle Zhao appears right in time, apologizing for the child’s rudeness. Realizing that the city leader would not let them off, he asks the city leader to let them check out the inside of the palace to prove their innocence. Fuling takes them to the place where Yunge disappeared but couldn’t find any evidence. Pleased, the city leader claims that the child is imagining things.
Uncle Zhao finds Yunge’s waterlily pouch and knows that Yunge has been abducted so he quickly apologizes for Fu ling’s absurdity in order to safely leave the palace. Outside, Uncle Zhao tells Fu Ling that it would be difficult to save Yunge since they didn’t know the area well and their opponent knew martial arts. He tells him that it would be best to come back with soldiers after he brings him to a safe place but Fu Ling refuses to leave without Yunge.
Meng Jun trips the abductors and tries to escape with Yunge but is caught by the city leader. While she is preventing them from escaping, Yunge throws rocks at her but it dislodges the mask and her forehead scar is revealed.
Yunge and Meng Jun escapes during the chaos and Meng Jun runs off to divert the guards to a different direction while she escapes. However, she accidentally breaks a mud statue and that alerts the city leader of her whereabout.
Knowing that she is inside, she starts telling her about her pitiful story. She lived happily with her husband Ai Yun until she saved a girl, Nuo Yian, dying from drought in the desert. They treated Nuo Yian like her own sister however, as Nuo Yian grew older, she became very pretty and Ai Yun fell in love her. While her husband ran away with Nuo Yian, she accidentally shot Ai Yun when aiming for Nuo Yian. Nuo Yian deserted him and ran away while he died in her arms.
She preserved Ai Yun’s body in the boiling clay and ever since his death, she no longer shed tears. She wants Yunge to forever stay in the city so that she can’t grow up and hurt others in the same way that Nuo Yian did by stealing her husband.
Uncle Zhao and Fuling returned back to save Yunge. While uncle Zhao is dueling with the city leader, Meng Jun distracts her by telling her that her mud sculptures are being burned down and Uncle Zhao takes this chance to stab her in the stomach.
However, she takes back out the knife like nothing has happened and drags Yunge with her into the burning palace. She tries to save the mud sculpture of Ai Yun from being burned but gets trapped by a falling beam. We see that she was hurt by the wound from uncle Zhao but because of her love for Ai Yun, she mustered out her last bits of energy to rush back into the palace.
Yunge feels that she is pitiful and wants to save her but Meng Jun stop them, saying that if you save her, she will kill them all. He persuades them to escape the burning palace before they all die.
Uncle Zhao brings them all onto the carriage and they flee from the city.
In the desert, Meng Jun is envious as he watches Yunge tending to Fuling’s wounds but as Yunge offers to treat his wounds, Meng Jun declines the offer saying his life is worthless and to take care of the young master instead. Yunge thanks Fu Ling for saving her life or else she would have turned into ashes in the burning palace. Fu Ling replies that if she had died there, he would accompany her. It’s a bit cheesy when I see kids say things that adults would.
They asks for Meng Jun’s name and he says that his name is Qui Sheng which translates to Begging for Life. When Fu Ling remarks that it’s a peculiar name, Meng Jun responds that he got his name due to the late king who only cared about warfare and neglected the citizen’s lives. Poor people were forced to steal and deceive others in order to live and he was named Begging for Life because he wants to live. He said his family was destroyed because of the late king, but Fu Ling thought he meant his family died of poverty and promised to improve the citizen’s living.
The next day when they wake up, Meng Jun left a note telling them he has left and told Fu Ling not to forget his promise of taking care of the citizens.
Fu Ling reaches his original destination and decide to stay there for the night before he heads back into the city of Chang An. He asks if Yunge would accompany him to the city of Chang An but she replies she can’t because her parents have never permitted her to visit the city. However she promises that she will meet him in the city of Chang An when she grows up and teaches him how to pinky promise.
To commemorate their promise, Fu Ling gives her a necklace that is made using his mother’s hair so that when she reaches Chang An, he can recognize her. Seeing that he cherishes the necklace, she asks for the jade ornament instead but he hates the jade ornament because it was given to him by his father and he couldn’t possibly give her something that he hates so he told her to accept the necklace since it looks good on her.
Not wanting to accept something without giving something in return, she takes off one of her shoes and gives it to him. They promise to meet in the future and Yunge falls asleep singing while Fu Ling plays the melody on his flute.
The next morning the two are forced to separate as an eagle brings Yunge a message to meet her brother in the marketplace and Uncle Zhao tells Fu Ling he needs to set out. They tearfully break apart and Fu Ling tells her to look for him under the surname of Liu in Chang An.
Episode 1 was pretty boring but it sets the stage for the rest of the story. As always the CGs aren’t that great but since I have already watched till episode 6, I can tell you CGs are nonexistent after episode 1. The main focal point of the drama is the love triangle between the characters and judging by the hatred from episode 1, I can forsee that Meng Jun will be Fu Ling’s greatest nemesis. So if you’re a major fan of romance, love triangles etc. continue watching.
I am liking the child’s acting. The young Fu Ling has this sort of brattiness that the rich people possess. He is crown prince after all and I am sure his servants would never dare to disobey him. However you can also feel that he is well educated as he talks with manners and politeness. In contrast to the highly protected Fu Ling, you can feel that Meng Jun has went through lots of hardships and it is through those hardships that he learned to be street-smart and clever. While Fu Ling was only concerned with finding Yunge, Meng Jun figured out ways to help uncle Zhao in fighting the guards and to help Yunge escape. Despite his cleverness, Meng Jun is independent, impulsive, easily agitated, introverted and feels that he is inferior to Fu Ling.
Both of the male leads have different personality that distinguishes them from each other. However I didn’t find that the older counterparts maintained that personality when they were older. I will talk about the changes in the next episode.
The one thing I hate about childhood romances is that I can’t stand children acting like adults. Saying stuff like “if you die, I will die with you” and patting your hand on the other persons hands seems like things that only adults would do. I wish the directors didn’t personify the children like they were adults.
I have watched up till episode 6 where Yunge has met with both Meng Jun and Fu Ling. I am so excited to see what will happen next. If you’re one of those that hates to wait for the next episode, I would advise you to wait until a majority of the episodes are out before starting. I am totally addicted right now.