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‘Marco Polo’ Episode 7 Recap: “The Scholar’s Pen”

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Marco and Hundred Eyes take on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the walled city of Xiangyang, while its chancellor struggles to hold on to power.

Another flashback gives us a look into Jia Sidao and Mei Lin’s relationship before she became an Emperor’s consort and got Jia a position of Chancellor. Mei Lin began working as a prostitute at a young age to feed her and her older brother after their parents died.

In present day, a beat-up Mei Lin explains that her brother Jia Sidao sent her to kill the Empress, not the Khan. When she begs the Empress for her life, saying she did this to save her daughter, Chabi pulls a sword on Mei Lin before ordering guards to take her away in disgust. Later, she counsels Kublai to spare Mei Lin and use her information against the Song.

Ahmad is left in charge of Mei Lin, who tells him that she was sent to assassinate Empress Chabi to instill wrath in Kublai and bring him to the doors of Xiangyang, where Jia Sidao would defeat him and win honor for himself and the Song dynasty. Meanwhile, Jing Fei has made it back to the Walled City, where she tells Empress Dowager about Jia Sidao’s treachery. She lied to him about Mei Lin’s successful assassination to protect Ling Ling from harm. The Empress promises to protect her and Ling Ling, but Jing Fei will have to keep lying to Jia for another day while the Empress finalizes her son’s coronation. (Side note – does it freak anyone else out how Jia keeps painting Jing Fei’s face to look like his baby sister’s in the flashback? Creeeeepy.)

Kublai Khan sends Hundred Eyes and Marco Polo to Xiangyang to kill Jia Sidao and gather information on the rebels. Empress Chabi summons Kokachin to a private audience and scopes her out as a new wife for Jingim. Byamba and Khutulun rally their soldiers to fight for the Khan. When the soldiers question Khutulun’s ability, she wrestles with Byamba to show them her skill… and loses, but totally on purpose, which Byamba calls her out on later. I SHIP IT.

Kokachin, sensing the potential for a royal marriage, meets with Tulga and tells him to leave the city. He doesn’t, naturally,

Jingim is still resentful and suspicious of Marco, and expresses this to Ahmad, while Marco himself is busy infiltrating the Walled City with Hundred Eyes and making their way into the palace. They capture Jing Fei and get her to help them. The next day, the baby Emperor’s coronation proceeds and Jia Sidao begins to transfer his power to the Empress’ champion. Instead, Jia attacks Fang. Hundred Eyes jumps into the fight when he arrives, unfortunately providing the distraction for Jia to kill Fang. Guards arrive, and Hundred Eyes is able to fight them off and escape, but he doesn’t manage to succeed in killing Jia Sidao.

Jing Fei rescues Ling Ling and sends her to Cambulac along with Marco Polo and Hundred Eyes, but decides to stay behind herself so she can be an ally to Empress Dowager. Jia Sidao enters the coronation covered in blood and reclaims his position as Chancellor. Ugh, everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong, but at least Mei Lin and Ling Ling are reunited, and Marco has information on a hole in Xiangyang’s defenses. Cambulac’s forces march on the Walled City.

Memorable Quotes

Chabi: The concubine was a tool. Like a sword, she has no say into whose body she is thrust.
Kublai: You wanted her head yourself. Don’t weaken your resolve now, wife. I will not weaken mine.
Chabi: What I wanted in a weaker moment, husband, I resisted.

Kublai: To have Buddha on our side is a great ally, I know this. But as the Bible says, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’
 Oh, Kublai. You quote whatever holiness suits you at the time.

Chabi: If you attack Xiangyang, thousands will perish. I will not bathe in that blood. I will not have war in my name.

Khutulun: You are not the butterfly I expected.
Byamba: And you are not the lioness.

Empress Dowager: After you’ve packed your porcelain, we will clean up the shambles you’ve left behind.

Byamba: War is easy. The waiting will kill you.

Byamba: I’ve seen you defeat far more proficient wrestlers than me. I do not have the skills –
Khutulun: Or the balls to marry me.
Byamba: So it was a ploy. You lost by design in order to secure my hand in marriage.
Khutulun: You think much of yourself, Byamba. If I wanted you, I would have had you years ago. But for now, I am engaged to Decisive.
Byamba: I would never sever you from your blade. You needn’t sacrifice one for the other. We are warriors. Battle me.