lin dynasty

10

I will be so disappointed if any future drama that contains a concubine selection sequence does not have this trope, where the demure innocent girl from a lesser family spills water/tea/soup/insert-liquid-here on the snotty, bratty rich girl from the powerful family, requiring the plucky female lead who is a Strong Female Character™ to come to her rescue and have an argument with the bratty girl in the middle of the palace.

Also related is the trope of the plucky female lead who is a Strong Female Character™ entering the palace for concubine selection, planning to hide her talents because she doesn’t want to be chosen, but Fate conspired against her and made her reveal her talents anyway, leading to her being the Chosen One, thus starting off a whole epic herstory of palace rivalries and intrigue.

南宋 馬麟 蘭花圖 冊頁 絹本
Orchids
Artist: Ma Lin (Chinese, ca. 1180– after 1256)
Period: Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)
Date: second quarter of the 13th century
Culture: China
Medium: Album leaf; ink and color on silk
Dimensions: Image: 10 7/16 x 8 7/8 in. (26.5 x 22.5 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973
Accession Number: 1973.120.10,  Metropolitan Museum of Art


Description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “ This exquisite representation of an orchid, signed by Ma Lin, son of Ma Yuan (act. ca. 1190-1225), exemplifies the style of formal realism favored by the aristocratic Southern Song court. The simple asymmetrical balance of flowers and leaves, meticulously rendered in subtle shades of lavender, white, and malachite green, bespeaks a consciously aestheticizing sensibility. Such flower paintings recall late Southern Song lyric poems about flowers.”



The Lin Chung Dynasty

(Part 2 of a recent re-blog but this part seemed to keep losing the images.  So re-done just for those who’ve recently seen part 1.)

This Ep centred around the offices of a woman’s magazine, hence my choice of chapter headings!

Part 2: Strictly business

The re-emergence of Lin in Away with the Fairies probably pays lip service to the on-going relationship between Phryne and Lin as lovers in the books. I presume that would be Phling. But I’m sticking with the TV shows and hoping that Lin will disappear.

At the end of the last Ep with Lin Chung, he had decided to marry the bride chosen for him for the honour of his family, but in Fairies things get complicated in an on-again off-again engagement.

Lin’s engagement to Camellia is to promote and restore the family’s business and Phryne makes it clear to Lin that her association with Jack is strictly business. Hmm, this doesn’t augur well for Phrack!

There are parallels between the Lin/Camellia situation and the main plot where the status of education for women is still  wanting in society dominated by men:

  • the magazine (Women’s Choice) hides articles on women’s health and well-being amongst recipes and crochet patterns
  • the agony aunt’s advice perpetuates a woman’s servile role and there’s evidence of its destructive powers
  • Mrs Opie’s affair with John Bell involves more talking about art and literature than anything else - topics her husband feels are irrelevant to her
  • Lin’s fiancée, Camellia, is educated, albeit by Chinese communist teachings and this is something to be hidden from her new family.

Cover page

The Ep opens with some flirty Phryne and diffident Jack reminiscing about the pash in Montparnasse, and sustaining a series of close encounters:

Jack is, as usual, hesitant to involve P immediately in the case. (Why does he do this?  We know she’ll end up solving it.  Why resist?)  But just as well he does because we then have that exquisite scene chez Phryne:

Phryne:  Are you wooing me for information Inspector?

She calls him Inspector as she is in wooing mood too.(and is this a near miss kiss?)

And then there’s a knock at the door and Mr Butler announces another visitor. At least it’s not Aunt P. Lin enters, P cannot contain her pleasure in seeing him, and Jack has to leave with his tail between his legs.

Phryne: Lin!

Lin:  My apologies for the intrusion (I don’t think so). Detective Inspector.

Jack: Nice to see you again Mr Lin (I don’t think so).

Both men protest too much me thinks!

Gossip column

Lin and Phryne adjourn to the boudoir for some Phling and Lin updates her on the progress of the marriage stakes.

Lin:  I’ve missed you silver lady. (yerg)

Phryne: Likewise, beautiful man. (even yergier) Tell me why you’re here.  I thought you had a whole Chinese dynasty to appease.

(Yes, so did I.  Go away and appease them.)

Lin: My engagement has been indefinitely postponed.

Phryne: What happened?

Lin: Grandmother feels Camellia is not demure enough to be her daughter-in-law.  She’s answering her back.

Phryne: I like the sound of Camellia.

Lin: And grandmother questioned her chastity and she refused a medical examination.

(Slightly ironic given he’s in bed with P and not subject to any such scrutiny).

Phryne: Never mind a woman’s privacy when a dowry is at stake.

Lin: The longer it takes to resolve this dispute the more time I have with you.

Phryne: True, but not today.

Thank goodness for that!

Lin clearly sees Phryne as his lover and believes that while he is still not formally engaged to Camellia that he can continue their relationship.  However, there is still the shadow of Jack Robinson to contend with…

Crosswords and puzzles

Then things take a bit of a turn for the worse on the Camellia front as the grandmother decides to send her back to where she came from but the Hu’s won’t cough up with the fare so there’s a bit of an impasse.  

P is introduced to Camellia and Lin says that she has no English. He then asks to speak to P in private to explain the stalemate, and ushers Camellia out. (Why if Camellia doesn’t speak English does she have to leave?  Why doesn’t he explain in front of her?  He can hardly explain it to P in Mandarin.  Unless he knows she does speak English…)

Lin asks P to give her shelter until things calm down as the grandmother has taken to Camellia with a cane in retaliation.  

(Well at least that will keep him out of P’s boudoir for a bit.)

Phryne:  How awful!

Lin:  Don’t worry.  Camellia fought like a tiger but I need you to keep her safe until I calm the waters.

Phryne is unfazed about protecting her lover’s ex-fiancée.  She is not jealous of her and accepts Lin’s request readily.

Dot bathes Camellia’s wounds and Phryne discovers a little red book in her luggage which appears to be some kind of communist manifesto.

Dot: Is Miss Lu a communist?

Phryne: There’s clearly some connection.  She may have a much more colourful history than Mr Lin’s family knows.

Dot: Would Mr Lin object?

Phryne: His grandmother most certainly would.  Let’s keep a close eye on her.  I like to know exactly what I’m dealing with in a house guest.

Table of contents

Mr Butler mistakes the identity of Miss Fisher’s dinner companion and prepares a Chinese menu and the table is set with candelabra and chopsticks. But of course it’s Jack, who appears just a tad discombobulated with the setting.

Phryne:  Never mind Mr Butler.  Perhaps a little more light on the situation but I’m sure the Inspector and I will cope.

Jack: Mr Chung looks well.  We crossed paths as he departed.

Phryne: I hope you like Chinese food.

The purpose of the dinner is to discuss the latest evidence Phryne has gleaned from the magazine’s offices.  Strictly business…

Next day P and J discuss possible suspects for the murders having discovered Mrs Opie’s affair with John Bell (aka Giuseppe Campana).  Jack suspects that Mr Opie could have been involved in the murders once his wife’s infidelity was discovered, and in a picture postcard postscript to his dinner with Phryne adds:

Jack: Some men will do anything for a hot meal.

Business section

Dot figures out that Camellia’s English is rather better than at first indicated and she is forced to reveal her background - the widow of an executed communist whose family wish her as far away as possible.  Returning to Shanghai is not an option.

P then has a last  Phling (or not). Why is she in a slip with the bed fully made and Lin is in a three-piece complete with tie and scarf?  Maybe they didn’t. (Hope not. And anyway where’s Camellia? Not in the next room surely! And where’s Aunt P when you need her?)

Phryne: You made your choice to follow your tradition and marry for duty and honour.

Lin: Perhaps I was wrong and this broken engagement is my last chance … for love. (Oh please scriptwriters give us a break).  Come out with me tonight to Chinatown, for dancing.

Phryne: Not tonight.  I have to rise earlier than I care to.  Inspector Robinson and I are working on a case.

Why does she say this?  She doesn’t need to.  Wasn’t it obvious when he came over the other day, and then when their paths crossed,  that there was a case in progress?  She needn’t have mentioned his name, but she does.  Red rag to a bull I’d say.

Lin: Is he unable to solve a crimes alone?

Phryne: Jack is strictly business. Lin, I care for you but you know I can never commit myself to any man.

Lin: I know.

This conversation begins almost as if Phryne resents and regrets Lin’s decision to pursue an arranged marriage, with Camellia or anyone, “You made your choice…”  But this sentiment, if it is there, quickly dissipates when he offers her an alternative.  Not only does she not accept it, she won’t even go out with him that evening and uses Jack’s name as the excuse for her need for an early night. Jack, being strictly business, parallels Lin’s need for an arranged marriage - relationships based on imperatives other than love.  Let’s hope when she said that her relationship with Jack was “strictly business” that she meant “strictly my business and his business”!

Births Deaths and Marriages

This conversation may well have provided the catalyst for Lin to resolve the deadlock in relation to the Hu’s and the Lin’s. He summons Phryne to assist as he takes on some cousins, backed by Mrs Lin the matriarch, threatening Camellia. (Now despite his deft moves in the alley in the previous Ep, Lin sends P in to deal with the thug cousins while he -er -um, goes round the back.)

Lin stands by Camellia, exerts his titular rights in the family and the marriage is back on.

Meanwhile Phryne consults her watch, knowing she is expected elsewhere, just as someone across town consults his (and has a bit of a lean).

Jack: If you are going to demand a dénouement Miss Fisher, the least you can do is turn up on time.

Murderer identified and arrested, case solved.  P gets Camellia on the cover of the article on migrant Melbourne in “Women’s Choice” and Dot turns down an alternative career as an agony aunt to stay with Miss Fisher. So happily ever after.

Appendix

Phryne: Jack, good of you to come. (They shake hands!)

Jack: And what puzzle are we solving tonight?

Phryne: No puzzle.

Jack: And no candlelight.  And no chopsticks either.

Phryne: There won’t be any chopsticks at this table for quite some time.

Jack:  And how would Mr Lin feel about that?

Pryne: Mr Lin will have quite enough to worry about with his communist-revolutionary-fighter bride.

Jack: Really?  Pass on my congratulations.

Phryne: Perhaps we could allow ourselves just one candle.  What do you think?

Jack: I think I could cope with that..