Goodbye My Princess is yet another example of the typical Chinese drama that starts off as a pretty engaging show, starts falling apart in the middle, and can barely hold itself together by the time it reaches the finish line.
I was totally captivated by the drama during the first couple of weeks, where the story was more focused on the Li Dynasty’s plans to conquer the Western Provinces after the Crown Prince’s untimely death. Xiaofeng is a bundle of cute, and Peng Xiaoran manages to portray the naive princess as a likable and innocent young maiden, rather than as a spoiled and foolish girl who doesn’t know any better. The young princess also gets a growth arc, as evident from her decision to remain princess consort. Xiaofeng realised that no princess can ever escape the fate of a political marriage, and finally understood the gravity of the situation when confronted with the harrowing truth of the conflict between two kingdoms.
Chen Xingxu has a tendency to overact in key emotion scenes, but I am giving him a pass because he was stuck with a badly written character in Li Chengyin. In the novel, Li Chengyin is heartless, selfish, and power-hungry, and he isn’t afraid to admit it. In the drama, Li Chengyin goes from being an affectionate and merciful romantic to everyone except Xiaofeng, to a hypocritical, unforgiving and jealous scumbag without any warning. Towards the end of the show, the screenwriters had completely forgotten they had already watered down Li Chengyin’s personality, and there was no logical progression of events that warranted such a change in temperament. I don’t see a problem in toning down a character’s personality when adapting them for another medium, but the incompetent writing meant there was no smooth transition when it came time to integrate the two different personalities.
The ill-fated romance during the first 10 episodes between Xiaofeng and Gu Xiaowu in the Western provinces was the highlight of the show for me, and the gorgeous scenery and lovely instrumentals by composer Feng Da was icing on the cake. I was hoping there would be some good political conspiracies to help pad out the rest of the show (the Crown Prince’s rebellion was child’s play), but it turns out my expectations were just too high.
Images credit to: 一只帅桃, Azure-epic, 依依哟-