Stakes Are High: First Impressions of Secret of Three Kingdoms

Secret of Three Kingdoms (Source: Soompi)

Everything is at stake from the first episode of Secret of Three Kingdoms. The imperial family is on a mission and the odds are against them, meaning that all hands should be on deck. But are all hands really on deck? At any rate, I’m here for it!

This drama had me at Three Kingdoms. It could have been called Random Villager A in Province 2 and I would be on it. I love Three Kingdoms! Due to its length, complexity and sheer number of characters, it lends itself to multiple treatments.  The team behind Secret of Three Kingdoms have taken some liberties, but I’m not mad. It still sets up the kind of power dynamics that drive all good dramas.

From the first episode, you can tell that times are perilous! What makes this drama a little different are secret motives and shaky alliances among a group of people who do not really have a lot of power. Back in the capital, the royal family is engaged in a polite war with Cao Cao, and many have already been sacrificed. No one is safe! Out in the countryside, villagers are having a hard time, subject to random attacks by bandits. Things are rough.

In the midst of the intrigue, the tension between Liu Xie (Ma Tiyuan) and Fu Shou (Regina Wan) draws your attention because they seem to want the same thing, but have two radically different ways of achieving it.  On one hand, wide-eyed Liu Xie rolls in all high and mighty with his armchair tactics and compassion. Under normal circumstances, this works, but I don’t think he fully understands how the royal family has been living under Cao Cao. The imperial family is desperate, which is why Fu Shou is constantly giving Liu Xie the side-eye when he does not fully grasp the situation. It’s not like they haven’t tried other things. Liu Xie doesn’t fully recognize that Fu Shou, the former emperor and Tang Ying (Dong Jie), the princess consort have been dealing with this situation for a while. Where has Liu Xie been? Chillin’ with his homie Sima Yi (Elvis Han) in the country. I need him to show a little more respect! On the other hand, because they have been on the front lines of this domestic war with Cao Cao, the royal family has lost some of its compassion and humanity (some?). They do tend to go with the extreme plan and overkill. There are alternatives. I certainly hope that they will learn to trust each other and become closer.

Speaking of Sima Yi, Liu Xie needs to keep an eye on him. While Sima Yi likes to denigrate the royal family, he is just as guilty of trying to control Liu Xie. He will use all kinds of means to get what he wants as well. Hey, instead of criticizing the royal family, why don’t you come up with a plan, Sima Yi? Or better yet, why don’t you get ready for the return of Guo Jia, who never makes a mistake? Be of some use! Guo Jia deserves special mention, because Sunny Wang is doing this character justice. He seems to play the debauched, strategic expert well.

My initial foray into the drama had me binge-watch 5 episodes, so it is definitely worth your while if historical dramas are your thing.


“Secret of the Three Kingdoms – 三国机密之潜龙在渊.” DramaFever. (19 May 2018)

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Stakes Are High: First Impressions of Secret of Three Kingdoms by CeeFu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

One thought on “Stakes Are High: First Impressions of Secret of Three Kingdoms

  1. I watched this drama a few times and it actually led me to research more into that period of Chinese History. This is one of my go-to dramas after Nirvana in Fire (ok update – The Untamed is the top fave that I have watched endlessly daily) I want to know about ancient Chinese History its culture philosophy music writings despite it’s warring states.

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