Available on: Viki, YouTube
Total episode #: 60
Dumpling-rating scale: 3.75/5
From the creators of Eternal Love 三生三世十里桃花 is another xianxia epic, Love and Destiny 三生三世宸汐缘 . Love and Destiny stars veteran actors, Chang Chen 张震 best known for his role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ni Ni 倪妮 from The Rise of the Phoenix. This Cdrama initially received negative feedback from Cnetizens on the casting choice. The compliant was that both lead were too old for an ‘idol drama’ and Chang Chan was just not that good looking… Although initially concerned by the male lead choice, I was won-over by Chang Chen’s compelling performance and on-screen chemistry with Ni Ni.
As regular readers of this blog will know — I love xianxia dramas. Love. And this drama did not disappoint. While the OST wasn’t amazing, the CGI was infinitely better than Eternal Love and Ashes of Love. And the best part was that it faithfully recreated the world from Eternal Love without repeating the story.
Love and Destiny is the love story between star-crossed lovers the God of War, Jiu Chen (Chang Chen), and a young fairy, Ling Xi (Ni Ni). Jiu Chen, having sacrificed himself to defeat the demon lord, is reawakened from his 50 thousand year slumber by Ling Xi. It soon becomes clear that Ling Xi, seemingly innocent and powerless, also has the power to reawaken the Demon Lord and bring chaos to the Heavenly World. Jiu Chen, caught between his duty to his kingdom and love for Ling Xi, must find a way to have save both.
The Love and Destiny cast had very big shoes to fill following Eternal Love and for the most part held their own. Chang Chen convincingly portrayed the stoic and cold God of War. Although I couldn’t flaw Ni Ni’s acting, I wasn’t thrilled with the role — Ling Xi is yet another damsel in distress. At some point Cdramas will need to stop with the helpless female and long-suffering male leads. For Ni Ni, the epitome of elegance and grace, I would have welcomed a stronger, more defiant role.
The secondary relationships were very well-done. I really enjoyed watching the romance develop between Ling Xi’s older sister, Qing Yao, with high god, Yun Feng, and merman turned maiden, Shi San, with fate-maker, Si Ming.
The main issue with Love and Destiny was the pacing… while the first 5 episodes were good, the pacing came to a screeching halt in episode 6 and it took a while for story arcs to resolve. Given this, my episode guide will look a little different this time and I will be recapping with reference to the three main couples. Let me know what you think, but beware there will be ‼️spoilers‼️:
- Arc 1 | Episodes 1-18 | The Great Battle
- Arc 2 | Episodes 19 – 23 | The Great Escape
- Arc 3 | Episodes 24 – 50 | The Mortal Realm
- Arc 4 | Episodes 51 – 60 | The Demonic Spirit
Arc 1 | Episodes 1 -18 | The Great Battle
Ling Xi and Jiu Chen
Ling Xi longs to leave the peach forest which she is confined to by her father, a drunken medicine man called Le Bo. During one of her day-adventures, she is chased, by a couple of Heavenly Guards, into the Ice Palace where Jiu Chen is asleep. Ling Xi is able to revive Jiu Chen by coming into close contact with him. Jiu Chen in return saves her from the Thunder God who suspect her of being possessed by demon spirit.
Jiu Chen, who also suspects Ling Xi of being part demon, asks her to serve him at his manor. While living in the manor, Ling Xi — who is a fire phoenix spirit — saves Jiu Chen from his ‘chill’ on more than one occasion and they become closer.
The Heavenly Tribe — particularly the matriarch of the Yuan Tribe who lost her eldest son and 100,000 solider during the Great Battle between the Demon King and Jiu Chen, which caused both to lie dormant — are suspicious of Jiu Chen who refuses to explain how he survived the Great Battle.
Jiu Chen promised General Yuan, who had been possessed by the Demon Spirit and killed many of his comrades, that for the sake of his tribe, he would never reveal what actually happened. Jiu Chen kills General Yuan soon after making that promise. However, after significant pressure from Yuan Tribe and Yuan Tong — who is in love with Jiu Chen and jealous of Ling Xi — which almost cost Ling Xi her life, Qing Yan discloses the truth in episode 11.
Although exonerated, Jiu Chen and Ling Xi still face the issue of Ling Xi’s identity. It is revealed in episode 15 that Ling Xi is in fact the daughter of Ling Yue, Queen of Shan Ling Tribe, and Mo Huan, student of Le Bo.
Ling Yue’s family did not approve of the union and killed Mo Huan. Ling Yue, who manages to defeat her family’s soldiers, could not get to Ling Xi in time and thinks she is dead. Baby Ling Xi was in fact near Jiu Chen and the Demon King’s final battle ground. Before the Demon King was sealed, he transmitted his last power to Ling Xi. Witnessing this, Jiu Chen also transferred her the last of his power — which is the reason Ling Xi has both demon and god energy and the power to release the Demon King.
Ling Xi’s identity means that she is pursued by the six realms and the demons. The former want to kill her because she has demon energy and the later want her to release the Demon King. Jiu Chen, who has fallen in love with her, hides her in his Snow Manor and transfers her a significant amount of his God energy so that she cannot be detected by the other Heavenly beings. Although Jiu Chen is seemingly besotted with Ling Xi — to the point of sacrificing his life and going against the six realms — he is still quite cold towards her only cracking a smile a couple of times. Things heat up a little from episode 15 — when Ling Xi steals a kiss — but like Jiu Chen’s ‘chill’, its all a bit icy.
Qing Yao and Yun Feng
Qing Yao and Yun Feng have to be one of my favorite CDrama pairings: Qing Yao is fierce and intelligent while Yun Feng is playful and ostentatious. In this arc, we are introduced to Qing Yao as Ling Xi’s protective older sister and skilled medicine lady. While Qing Yao treats Jiu Chen from his ‘chill’, she encounters Yun Feng (Jiu Chen’s childhood best friend) and does not hide her contempt for him.
Qing Yao’s grace and ability captivate Yun Feng, who falls in love with her and begins to pursue her. Qing Yao eventually reveals to Yun Feng that she was once a mortal (who managed to cultivate to immortal) and was married to a man that drowned as a result of a flood caused by Yun Feng in a drunken stupor.
Shi San and Si Ming
Another favorite — Shi San was once a general in Jiu Chen army where she served alongside Si Ming. She was however a merman and fell in love with Si Ming. In order to be with Si Ming, she changed to become a human-god female. Si Ming, distressed by her transformation and unable to get over the fact she was a ‘man’, cannot reciprocate her affection.
Arc 2 | Episodes 19 – 23 | The Great Escape
It all comes to a head in this arc — Ling Xi is found out, the Heavenly Realm want to kill her and the Demon Lord, who has possessed Zhong Hao, needs her to bring him back. After much deliberation with this teacher, Jiu Chen realizes that Ling Xi needs to die in order to get rid of the demon spirit in her.
Yuan Tong still reeling from her mother’s suicide and Jiu Chen’s lack of affection kills Le Bo in episode 21. Ling Xi is herself killed by Jiu Chen — who kills her so that she can be reborn and be killed again to remove the demon spirit (very complicated process…).
Ling Xi’s mother is also finally told by Jing Xiu that Ling Xi is her long-lost daughter. By the time she finds out, Jiu Chen has already killed Ling Xi. Jing Xiu is subsequently banished by Ling Yue and then captured by Zhong Hao. Zhong Hao sought out the Demon Lord to seek revenge against Jing Xiu who slaughtered his tribe in the first arc.
The stand-out in this arc was Ling Xi’s family — although adopted, they all sincerely cared for each other and were willing to risk their lives for each other’s safety.
Arc 3 | Episodes 24 – 50 | The Mortal Realm
This must be the longest mortal realm arc ever – almost half the drama! Not only do the couples become actual couples but the love triangles also begin to solidify.
Ling Xi and Jiu Chen
Ling Xi is reborn in the mortal realm as Lin Mo without the ability to hear (the fire demon in the previous arc took away her sense of sound in exchange for an eternal fire to combat Jiu Cheng’s chill). Lin Mo’s adopted mother (who cannot herself have children) tries to kill her because of her disability however is stopped by Qing Yao. Her disability causes strain in her family — her adopted mother cannot truly accept her and her half sister resents her. Despite this, her father treats her very well and teaches her how to read, write and talk in sign language.
Lin Mo grows up and is considered beautiful and respectful, so much so that the esteemed Song family wish her to marry their son. Lin Mo accepts and meets Jiu Chen pretending to be the Song family son. Before the wedding, the Emperor issues an edict that young girls born on the day Lin Mo was born were to be killed to heal the Crown Prince. In the end, succumbing to family pressure, Lin Mo’s father tries to drown her. The demon mark ends up saving Lin Mo and suddenly the edict issued by the Emperor is withdrawn. Although Lin Mo returns home, she cannot get over the fact that the father she loved so dearly tried to kill her and ends up leaving to build a new life (even though he really regretted his decision).
In pursuit of a new life, Lin Mo settles in a new town and builds a home in an abandoned cottage surrounded by peach trees. Just as she was settling in, Lin Mo meets an injured Jing Xiu. Jing Xiu has lost his sight and the will to live. Jing Xiu is cared for by Lin Mo and regains his sight after drinking peach wine made by her (Jiu Chen plants the fire demon’s senses in the ground). He also ends up falling in love with her.
Lin Mo also regains her hearing — thanks to Jiu Chen and the peach tree infused with the fire demon’s senses — and falls in love with Jiu Chen, still under the guise of the Song family son. Jiu Chen’s identity is revealed in episode 44 and Lin Mo’s time on earth draws closer to an end. Jing Xiu fully in love with Lin Mo at this point, is unable to let her die in episode 47 and gives her part of his life energy.
Although brought back, Lin Mo is deeply hurt that Jiu Chen was waiting for her to die and bring back Ling Xi (who she believes is a different person). Ultimately, Lin Mo dies in Jiu Cheng’s arms. Not necessarily killed by him but definitely for him — she gives him, the Jing Xiu’s ‘life essence’. Although the demon spirit in her dies, part of the Demon Lord’s spirit enters Yuan Tong…
Qing Yao and Yun Feng
Qing Yao and Yun Feng’s relationship is as playful as ever. It does get a little more complicated with the Emperor’s edict that Yun Feng marry and the return of Qing Yao’s husband (now also an immortal) in episode 44. However, through it all, Yun Feng and Qing Yao’s affection for each other only grows stronger.
The real trial comes when Yuan Tong (now fully evil) frames Qing Yao for killing her army. Yun Feng asks the Emperor to punish him instead of Qing Yao and turn him into stone for 1000 years in episode 50. Grief-stricken, Qing Yao finally realizes her feelings for Yun Feng and decides to stay by his side.
Arc 4 | Episodes 51 – 60 | The Demonic Spirit
Ling Xi and Jiu Chen
Ling Xi is reborn soon after her mortal death and is now a High God. Instead of visiting Jiu Chen, she pays her respect to her father Lin Bo and exonerates Yun Feng. After Yuan Tong’s trial (where the truth is revealed about her framing Yun Feng and Qing Yao), Ling Xi meets Jiu Chen and tells him she needs time to find herself — she has been in effect killed by Jiu Chen twice.
Ling Xi returns to Shan Ling to meet her now dying mother. Her mother was attacked by Jing Xiu (now also a High God), who is trying to head the Shan Ling tribe. Qing Yao is able to heal Ling Yue, however Jing Xiu kills her. Jing Xiu, in love with Ling Xi, decides that she should be the head on the Shan Ling. Bao Qing, Ling Yue’s adopted daughter, in a jealous fit attempts to kill Ling Xi and reveal the truth about Jing Xiu but is instead killed by him.
While trying to uncover her mother’s murder, Ling Xi and Jiu Chen become closer, confess their love for each other and consummate their relationship. They also decide to get married in episode 58.
Before their wedding, it is revealed that the Demon Lord has not died and is kept alive by Yuan Tong and now Jing Xiu (who has gone full evil, after being discovered and punished by Ling Xi). Jiu Chen ultimately sacrifices himself by sealing himself with the Demon Lord/Jing Xiu. He is only able to do so with the help of Ling Xi — who goes to help him, telling him that she has already made a life commitment to him.
Despite Jiu Chen’s seeming demise, Ling Xi decides to live in the snow manor with their daughter. After hundreds of years… Jiu Chen comes back and is reunited with Ling Xi and their daughter.
Qing Yao and Yun Feng
Yun Feng is freed by Jiu Chen in order to cover for him while he sacrifices himself to battle the Demon Lord. Yun Feng is soon uncovered by Ling Xi — who immediately goes to Jiu Cheng’s rescue — and is able to make-up with Qing Yao. Qing Yao and Yun Feng agree to get married and live happily ever after.
Shi San and Si Ming
After what seems like forever (or at least most of the drama), Si Ming finally accepts his growing feelings for Shi San. However, just as he does, Shi San is killed by a possessed Yuan Tong. Fortunately, Shi San is reborn, this time as a mermaid (rather than merman) but has no memory of her previous life or her love for Si Ming. Shi San and Si Ming’s story finishes on a cliff-hanger but it is heavily implied that Si Ming (still in love with Shi San) will have to do all the chasing this time round, karma.
Although the pacing was seriously problematic, I thought the final arc was well done. I definitely liked the reunion element and Ling Xi’s growth story — she went from ditsy and delicate to considered and somewhat empowered.
I expected more from Ling Xi-Jiu Chen’s relationship. It had a lot of potential but didn’t quite hit the mark. As for the secondary love stories — I loved them, particularly (if I haven’t already made it clear) Yun Feng and Qing Yao.
What do you think of Love and Destiny?