Everything about the Blue Princess is a lie.
The episode’s cold open hits us with the big reveal that the Kokachin we know (and feel indifferent about) is in fact the cowardly servant pretending to be her dead mistress after the real Kokachin committed suicide rather than be shipped off to the Khan’s harem. This subplot perhaps just got a whole lot more interesting.
Unfortunately the first scene after the opening credits involves Kokachin acting bratty, entitled, and hurling insults at Khutulun the Bad-Ass Wrestling Princess. This Fake Princess disparagingly refers to a Real Princess as “that wrestling whore.” In a later scene where Kokachin, Khutulun, and Empress Chabi are surveying the city’s preparations for the White Moon Festival, Kokachin makes a rude comment about poor people and states that the empress isn’t as popular as she thinks she is. Whatever goodwill I almost wanted to muster for “Kokachin” just flew out the window.
Apparently the peasant guy that “Kokachin” has been sending jewelry to is her ex-fiancé from her old life before she assumed the identity of the Blue Princess. When confronted by Marco about why she’s been giving away priceless jewelry to a humble peasant, Kokachin admits that she planted the snake that almost killed him and claims that she offers the jewelry to her old friend in the hope that he will not reveal her secret. Marco takes it upon himself to handle these transactions from here on out which clearly doesn’t end well. Marco, Marco, WHAT are you doing?
Elsewhere in Cambulac, Marco bids farewell to his father and uncle, now branded as thieves and forever unwelcome in the Khan’s vast empire. Good riddance, they treated Marco poorly and even Papa Poło agrees that they were lucky to survive the Khan’s justice with their lives intact.
In the midst of the city’s preparations for the White Moon festival, Marco and Byamba resume their special mission to figure out who hired the assassins that tried to kill the Khan. They question Finance Minister Ahmed and Vice Regent Yusuf who appear to both have ironclad alibis. Jinggim, ever eager to be in the know, tries to shake Marco and Byamba down for information regarding the results of their mission in the previous episode. Both men were sworn to secrecy by Kublai however and tell Jinggim nothing which obviously doesn’t go well with the Crown Prince himself who feels his rank being undermined by his bastard brother and a foreigner.
Mei Lin’s friend from Xinjiang sneaks into the Khan’s court to relay a new mission from Jia Sidao as well as the news that her daughter Ling Ling has had her feet bound. She is given the stern warning that a worse fate awaits her daughter if she doesn’t succeed with her mission. Fearing for her daughter’s fate, Mei Lin is resolved to carry out her seemingly impossible task: assassinate Empress Chabi. The initial attempt, involving a tantalizing orgy with Kublai, Chabi, and the rest of the Khan’s harem, fails and leaves an innocent concubine dead by the morning of the White Moon Festival.
It is the final minutes of the show that truly defined this episode for me. Mei Lin, frustrated with her failure and desperate to ensure her daughter’s safety, hazards all and embarks on a suicide mission. In what is a very spectacular, suspenseful, and action-packed scene, she runs in headfirst toward the dais where Kublai and Chabi are seated and fires an arrow that misses the empress by a mere few inches. When that attempt also fails, she takes out several of the Khan’s guards and heads towards Chabi, sword in hand, ready to murder her target up close. Mei Lin is stopped short by an arrow that strikes her across the shoulder fired none other than the Empress Chabi herself. I was fist-pumping and cheering at this point. Looks like Chabi’s boasts weren’t unfounded when she claimed to be a good rider and an excellent marksman. You don’t mess with Mongol women. The blood of Genghis Khan runs strong in their veins. More of Chabi flexing her archery skills and Khutulun wrestling people to the ground please.
The episode ends with Mei Lin screaming in pain and anguish as she is captured by the Khan’s guards. Her screams are visceral and you can tell that it isn’t just for her wound that she cries for but for the fact that her failure has pretty much signed her daughter’s Death Warrant.