Available on: YouTube
Total episode #: 58
Dumpling-rating scale: 3.75/5
I had been eagerly awaiting the release of Princess Silver 白发 — marketed as the ‘perfect drama’ with a star-studded cast, compelling story-line and a good old fashion love triangle (which turned out to be more like a quadrilateral). Upon watching it, I was slight disappointed particularly in the middle parts where there was a distinct lull. Despite this, there were parts I enjoyed and think it deserves more attention than it is currently experiencing.
Princess Silver is about Rong Le (portrayed by Zhang Xue Ying 张雪迎), a princess who wakes up from a coma without any memory of who she is or her life before. What she soon begins to realize is that her brother, Rong Qi (portrayed by Luo Yun Xi 罗云熙) loves her dearly and will risk his life to protect her. Out of the love for her brother and kingdom, she complies with an order to marry Wu You (portrayed by Aarif Rahman 李治廷) thereby forging an alliance with the more powerful Northern kingdom.
When she arrives, Wu You out-rightly refuses to marry her. Unperturbed, Rong Le makes a deal with Wu You that if he doesn’t fall in love with her in six months she will leave. Secretly, Rong Le intends to search for he Qin family’s missing sacred book. On her quest to find the missing book, she encounters Wu You and the esteemed General Fu (portrayed by Jing Chao 经超) under the guise of being the mistress of a famous tea house, Man Yao.
It is easy to predict what happens next but I will leave the spoilers for the Episode Guide below. Given the success of other similar dramas (Princess Wei Young, Goodbye My Princess and even I Will Never Let You Go) I did find it odd that Princess Silver is not the subject of more attention. Watching it went some way to explaining why that might the case. Princess Silver rehashes a lot of the same scenes and themes from a lot of previous dramas.
The complex love triangle/brothers in love with the same lady theme aside, the number of times Man Yao/Rong Le faints, trips and falls is almost farcical. I know romance is often portrayed in Chinese Dramas with the guy catching the girl mid-fall but can we not replay that same scene three times in one episode?
Rong Le is meant to be this strong and strategic woman but can never seem to get herself out of trouble. That being said Zhang Xue Ying was the definite standout actor. Without her (and Luo Yun Xi, who doesn’t really feature), the acting was sub-par. That aside, I found the story line for the most part engaging (although predicable) and the pacing well done.
Princess Silver is a worthwhile drama to watch (despite the above criticisms). For those still interested, I have set out my Episode Guide below (starring 🌟 my favorite arcs) but beware there are ‼️ spoilers ‼️ –
- Arc 1 | Episodes 1 – 4 | Rong Le’s Mission
- Arc 2 | Episodes 5 – 17 | Love and Betrayal 🌟
- Arc 3 | Episodes 18 – 31 | General Fu’s transformation
- Arc 4 | Episodes 32 – 45 | Princess Silver
- Arc 5 | Episodes 46 – 58 | Reunion and Memories 🌟
Arc 1 | Episodes 1 – 4 | Rong Le’s Mission
Set in the Western Qi, the first episode introduces some important characters connected to Rong Le. There is Rong Le’s kind but sickly Emperor-brother Rong Qi. Rong Qi loves Rong Le and is willing to do everything in his power to protect. In open conflict with him is his mother — the Grand Dowager — who is intent on sending Rong Le to married to the Wu You, the Prince of the Northern Lin.
Despite Rong Qi’s effort, Rong Le decides that for her people and her brother she will travel to the Northern Lin to create a marriage alliance. However, when she arrives it becomes clear that Wu You (who has unresolved issues with his father) will not marry her. Rong Le and Wu You reach a middle ground where Rong Le has six months to make Wu You fall in love with her.
Secretly, Rong Le herself has no intention of marrying Wu You and is on a mission to find the Qin’s family’s book sacred book for her brother. Assisting her in her mission is a teahouse owner and fellow Western Qi citizen.
During her quest, she again encounters the arrogant Wu You, this time as Man Yao. Following the death of his mother (who is later revealed to have been killed by his father in a drunken stupor), Wu You cannot ‘touch’ women or drink. Rong Le’s wit and determination slowly erode Wu You’s arrogance and assist him in overcoming his childhood trauma. Wu You’s ‘Rong Le is the woman for me’ moment happens in episode 4, after Rong Le calls his bluff and attempts to sacrifice her hand for entertainer Chen Yu.
Arc 2 | Episodes 5 – 17 | Love and Betrayal 🌟
Most of Rong Le’s love interests come out of the woodwork in Arc 2. Wu You is well and truly besotted with Man Yao/Rong Le and abducts her more than once to convince her to be his ‘women’. His forthrightness combined with the numerous times he saves Man Yao cause her to slowly fall in love with him.
All the while, Rong Le is relaying her admiration for Wu You to her Emperor-brother. Rong Qi becomes extremely jealous and decides that it is time that he too goes to the Northern Lin.
Rong Le also meets the celebrated General Fu. General Fu is immediately taken by Rong Le/Man Yao and has his ‘Rong Le is the woman for me moment’ happens in when she expresses interest in his music (does not take much!).
Although Man Yao is under heavy scrutiny, she is not detracted from her main mission which is to find the Qin family’s sacred book. This sacred book (called the Mountains and Rivers Book) holds the secret to a successful kingdom and its owner will have the power to rule and conquer. Man Yao soon finds this book but in doing so also discovers the duplicity of the three men in her life.
Witnessing Rong Le’s affection for Wu You, Rong Qi conspires with General Fu to have him marry Rong Le in order to strengthen their power, defeat the Northern Lin Empire and separate Rong Le from Wu You.
Rong Le after the deceit and betrayal seeks refuge in Wu You’s arms. After consummating their relationship in episode 12, it is revealed that Wu You was also using Man Yao to obtain the Qin family’s sacred book.
Completely heartbroken, Rong Le proceeds with her brother’s plan and marries General Fu in episode 15. However, the possessive Wu You interrupts the wedding ceremony and tells everyone in attendance that Rong Le can only be ‘his woman’ as they had consummated their relationship and again abducts her.
Rong Le shamed and held captive by Wu You in his mother’s tomb tells him that although they felt love, their relationship was a sham. Neither had been honest with each other and that it is better that they forget each other. Three days holding Rong Le captive, Wu You releases her and both have to face the consequences of his actions. Rong Le has to go back to General Fu as his wife and Wu You (along with his trusted brother Wu Yu) is exiled.
Arc 3 | Episodes 18 – 31 | General Fu’s Transformation
Although General Fu loves with Rong Le and tries to treat her well, life doesn’t get any easier for her and she experiences more betrayal and suffering.
Rong Le, still in love with Wu You, cannot reciprocate General Fu’s feelings which causes a cold and fractious marriage. This combined with the attention and acclaim Wu You receives after his successful mission in the south causes General Fu to go dark (very dark).
Ultimately, it is revealed that General Fu is Wu You’s half brother — the son of the Emperor from an alliance marriage to a scorned Princess Fu Yuan– and has for years been planning a revolt. The motions for mass revolt had been set when he paralyses and holds captive the Emperor.
Rong Le on the other hand is betrayed again when Chen Yu abducts her to lure Wu You. She trades Rong Le for the sacred Qin family book but in doing so proves to her that Wu You really does love her. Although confessing their love for each other, Rong Le publicly rejects Wu You when he tries to rescue her. She asks him to leave her alone because she finds out that she had been poisoned by the Western Xi (and her ‘Mother’) and only has months to live.
Love loses again when Ling Yu and Wu Yu are separated. Ling Yu is forced into alliance marriage to Prince Ning Qian Yi. Ling Yu’s parting words to Rong Le (which I thought was odd given her own circumstance) was to fight for love.
Arc 4 | Episodes 32 – 45 | Princess Silver 🌟
General Fu escalates his plans for revenge and without realising it he tortures Rong Le (thinking she is Hei Xiang) and uses her to get back at Wu You.
His plans culminate when he forces Wu You to surrender by poisoning Rong Le. Wu You obtains the antidote to cure Rong Le but as a result of the poison Rong Le stabs him. Believing she killed him Rong Le’s hair turns white — finally Rong Le becomes Princess Silver in episode 35.
By episode 37, Wu You and Rong Le escape General Fu’s manor and spend a very happy year together in a rebel stronghold. Despite this, Rong Le is ostracized for her white hair. In episode 43, Wu You not only uncovers Ya Li and her father’s treachery but that he has ingested a poison to turn his hair white (as a sign of allegiance to Rong Le).
It remains a mystery why General Fu is still in love with Rong Le but in episode 45 he risks his life to deliver an antidote for her. In exchange for General Fu’s life his mother, Fu Yuan, trades Wu You’s mother’s ashes. The vindictive Fu Yuan, never intending to return, the ashes sets a trap causing the ashes to scatter. Guilt-ridden, Rong Le punishes herself and cannot bring herself to ingest the antidote brought by General Fu. Wu You on the hand, believing life is more important than debt, drinks the antidote to persuade Rong Le to do the same. Both have their hair turn black in episode 46.
Arc 5 | Episodes 47 – 58 | Reunion and Memories 🌟
The pacing really picks up in this arc. Rong Le and Wu You returns to the southern rebel stronghold as husband and wife. While Wu You is away doing important military things, Rong Le is framed (again) this time by her maidservant Ling Yue.
Ling Yue revealed to be working for Fu Yuan attempts to frame Rong Le for adultery by also manipulating Ya Li (who ends up killing herself). Ultimately, Rong Le turns exposes Ling Yue betrayal by seeking refuge with her friend Zhao Yun (now the Princess of the Zhen Bei). Ling Yue is killed by Xiao Sha after she admits her guilt.
Although Prince Ning Qian Yi and Zhao Yun are deeply in love and expecting a son, Prince Ning Qian Yi has dark aspirations of becoming the sole ruler. His chance to consolidate his power arrives in episode 51 when General Fu, Rong Qi and Wu You arrive at Zhen Bei to protect Man Yao. Prince Ning Qian Yi’s plan to kill all of them are thwarted by the reappearance of Chen Yu, Zhao Yun and the child Crown Prince of Zhen Bei. In the end, Prince Ning Qian Yi is forced to kill himself, causing Zhao Yun a huge amount of grief.
Importantly, it is disclosed that General Fu and Wu You are twin brothers, separated at birth by the scorned Fu Yuan. Fu Yuan, who was in love with their father, wanted revenge against their birth mother for taking their father away from him. Fu Yuan killed their mother and raised General Fu for the purpose of seeking revenge on her behalf. Rong Le soon after is revealed to be pregnant with Wu You’s child (much to General Fu and Rong Qi’s despair). Rong Le still not cured from the first poison (called the ‘destiny poison’) does not expect to live to see her child.
Promising to cure her, Rong Qi takes Rong Le away to live a secluded life till her delivery. During this time together Rong Le’s memories come back. Rong Le is in fact the daughter of the Qin family, her sister is Hei Xiang, and she was at one stage in love with and betrothed to Rong Qi. Fu Yuan who had trained Rong Le for revenge did not approve of the match and after the real Rong Le committed suicide force Rong Le (known as Man-er) to take her place.
Man-er consumed the destiny poison (now killing her) as way to save Rong Qi from his own mother, Fu Yuan. Fu Yuan gave birth to Rong Qi in order to transfer the destiny poison in her system to him (which explains why Rong Qi is dying). All this time Rong Qi has been pumping his body with an antidote to ultimately sacrifice himself for Man-er. The different types of poisons in this drama becomes really confusing…
At the end, there is a stand-off between Fu Yuan, Wu You and General Fu. Heaps of people die protecting Man-er, her son and Hen Xiang and General Fu’s daughter including the Emperor, Hei Xiang, Hei Xiang guardian and Rong Qi. Fu Yuan kills herself after she realises that Rong Qi is dead and that she has been defeated by Wu You and General Fu.
The ending was quite well-done — although a lot of people arguably unnecessarily died (like Prince Ning Qian Yi, why couldn’t Zhao Yun have her happy ending?). Each character’s fate was summarised well: some characters couldn’t get rid of their hate (Fu Yuan and Ling Yue), others sacrificed themselves for the benefit of their loved ones (Rong Qi and Hei Xiang) and they were those who were able to redeem themselves (General Fu and Chen Yu).
The final substantive scene is of Chen Yu teaching a group of children (including Man-er’s son and niece) about the so-called Qin sacred book which turned out to be a series of poem composed by Man-er and Hei Xiang when they were children. Their father wanted them to describe their aspirations for the world and a false rumour spread that that book was a sacred book.
While the pacing was problematic in the middle drama and there were just too many instances of betrayal and unrequited love, the message seemed to be good — that is, revenge is detrimental and will not right any perceived wrongs. The discussion between Rong Qi (who was by far my favourite character) and his mother in episode 57 really brought this message home.
It was particularly moving when Rong Qi asked his mum if she was satisfied and whether she felt like she had justice after killing scores of people — the answer is of course no, but for a lot Chinese Dramas there are often two glorified motivations, to ‘get revenge’ (报仇 baochou) and ‘to repay’ (报恩 baoen). For all it cliches, Princess Silver really went against the grain in this way!
What did you think of Princess Silver?