‘Intrusion’ extra, what it says about Jiang Cheng’s role in MDZS, and how Wei Wuxian looks back on his past with the Jiangs
I said back in like June that I’d write meta on this and then put it off for a few months, oops! Here we are, finally!
First things first, both the ‘Intrusion’ and ‘Iron Hook’ extras are not just silly romps featuring married wangxian and fanservice, as some people seem to believe?? I’d say both of them clear up pretty neatly, for those that are still confused, points of contention in the fandom - such as Wei Wuxian’s heroism, and Jiang Cheng’s role as an antagonist. Specifically, if his actions were justified or sympathetic, and if he was punished unfairly by the narrative.
The first and most obvious statement made in ‘Intrusion’ is the parallel between the story of Young Master Qin (YMQ), and JC and WWX’s youths. I’ll summarise quickly the relationship between YMQ and the fierce corpse that has been bothering him.
They grew up together in YMQ’s grandmother’s house, since they were a similar age they played together
The fierce corpse (FC) was a servant in YMQ’s grandmother’s household
The grandmother took a liking to FC, and he was in some ways treated less like a servant, and more like a member of their clan, and was allowed to attend school with the other boys
YMQ specifically notes that his grandmother used to praise FC a lot
YMQ describes a story at the school in which someone answered a question, and FC incorrectly claimed he answered wrongly. When FC pushed the matter, the other students became annoyed and drove him out of the class
It is very heavily implied (to the point where ‘implied’ isn’t really the right word) that ‘someone’ was YMQ, that he had actually answered the question wrongly, and that he felt shown up by someone he felt should be below him proving so, and that he led the other boys in driving FC away
FC left the school and didn’t attend again
I probably don’t need to lay out where the similarities are…?
In response to YMQ’s story, Wei Wuxian (rhetorically) says this - ‘“Regarding the solution to that problem, in the end, who was right and who was wrong?”’
Aside from just exposing the kind of person YMQ is, in reference to a story wherein ‘FC’ is clearly a stand in for WWX, and YMQ for JC, MXTX’s decision to highlight specifically that it was FC that had the right solution to the problem is not insignificant. Nor how she specifies that he was the instigator of FC’s expulsion, while hiding behind the mob mentality of the other students.
Another interesting detail is that YMQ deliberately obscures the truth throughout the chapter, because despite his refusal to acknowledge it, possibly even to himself, he knows that between him and FC he is the one in the wrong. Similarly, JC obscures the truth about WWX, to the wider cultivation world during the period of WWX’s ‘downfall,’ (Ch.73) but also, more importantly, to JL after WWX’s death. JL believes that WWX ordered WN to kill both JZX and JYL (Ch.42). Of course, if JC did not have a guilty conscience, he would not feel it necessary to lie about these things. Or rather, convince himself that they are true, as he still blames WWX for the deaths of his parents’ and JYL and the end of the story (Ch.102).
YMQ’s attitude about servants is bad enough that it upsets Sizhui quite a lot, and shortly after their interaction with him, we have this exchange between LSZ and Wangxian.
‘Lan SiZhui thought about it, “I do not know either.” He responded with honesty, “He never did anything truly evil, but perhaps I find it difficult to deal with people of such character. I do not particularly like the tone with which he mentioned the word ‘servant’…”
He paused at this point. Wei WuXian was oblivious to it, “Typical, typical. Most of the people in this world looks down upon servants. Servants sometimes even look down upon themselves… Why are you two looking at me like that?”
Halfway through, he interrupted, not knowing whether to laugh or frown, “Stop—is there a misunderstanding here? How could I compare? Lotus Pier isn’t the usual household, after all. I’ve beaten Jiang Cheng up way more times than he’s ever beaten me!”
Lan WangJi didn’t say anything, but instead gave him a silent hug. Wei WuXian couldn’t help but smiled. He hugged back, stroking Lan WangJi’s back a couple of times. Lan SiZhui coughed. Seeing how confident Wei WuXian looked, not at all sensitive to the word ‘servant’, he was finally at ease.’
There’s a lot going on here...
Firstly, WWX definitely does not think badly of himself because his father was a servant, because WWX doesn’t think badly of servants. It is also true that Lotus Pier wasn’t so strict with hierarchy as other sects (Ch.51, Ch.71), and that WWX and JC sometimes playfully fought on equal terms in their youths. But WWX was also very clearly treated badly in the Jiang household due to his status, notably by YZY (Ch.51, Ch.56, Ch.57, Lotus Seed Pod extra), JC does also repeatedly enact real physical violence against WWX, that he simply brushes off (Ch.56, Ch.59). You could argue that the example from Ch.59 is under extenuating circumstances and therefore should not count, but the same excuse cannot apply to Ch.56.
Knowing this, Lan Wangji’s response to this, to hug WWX, does not feel casual at all. Instead it comes across as if he is offering comfort, which WWX accepts.
Finally, this exchange finishes with ‘Seeing how confident Wei WuXian looked, not at all sensitive to the word ‘servant’, he [LSZ] was finally at ease.’ To me, this seems to suggest that the entire purpose of this was not at all reader directed exposition about how good and equal the Jiang household was, but rather a WWX-typical veneer meant to appease LSZ’s concerns (taking a moment to quietly fangirl about how good MXTX is at ‘show, don’t tell’). Also suggests that WWX is aware on some level that he was treated badly, and LWJ is too - presumably, it is something that they have spoken about.
Continuing with the story of YMQ and FC…
YMQ returns to his home village as an adult wearing a jade pendant that belonged to his now deceased grandmother
FC asks to borrow it, YMQ allows it, thinking FC is missing his grandmother
FC returns telling him he has lost the pendant, YMQ thinks he has actually sold it, and has him beaten, it is very heavily implied that he breaks his leg
In the present, YMQ admits that he doesn’t actually think FC would have gone so far as to sell something of his grandmother’s
This is reflective of JC’s attitude towards WWX throughout his life, with regards to how he frequently comes to the worst conclusions about him, without having any real evidence, and lashes out at him for it. I spoke about this a bit before here. Most notable example is probably during their conversation in the demon-slaughtering cave wherein they discuss WWX’s defection, and JC decides that WWX is acting carelessly and playing the hero, though admits himself that WWX is following the Jiang Sect’s teachings, then declares WWX an enemy of the cultivation world behind his back.
The ambiguity of FC’s death, and YMQ’s role in it discussed in part 3 of the extra is referencing WWX’s own death, and JC’s role in it. In the end the conclusion is that whether or not YMQ was responsible, FC did not hold him to it.
In the end, FC is content to simply throw some fruit, and punch YMQ in the face in vengeance for his death, and even goes out of his way to avoid hurting LSZ when he is fighting him. He returns the jade pendant, that he really did lose and not steal, and goes back to resting peacefully.
WWX, LWJ, and LSZ’s views on YMQ’s fate are as follows
‘Lan WangJi gently tugged Lil’ Apple’s rein, his voice calm, “He was fortunate.”
Wei WuXian agreed, “Indeed. Young Master Qin has got quite the luck.”
After some time, Lan SiZhui finally couldn’t hold his words back any longer. Sincerely, he spoke, “But I still feel that only one punch might be a bit insufficient…”’
JC didn’t even get a punch to the face. I’d say he got off very lightly indeed.
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