branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Branch ([personal profile] branchandroot) wrote2017-06-19 05:44 pm

About Yujin

The latest story is stalled in the way that usually means there’s something about these characters that I don’t know yet, so let’s think out loud for a bit about Yujin. (It may be Jingrui, but we’ll start with Yujin.)

The first thing that comes to mind is that Yujin is seriously Prince Ji’s understudy, which in turn suggests immediately that Yujin’s sunny smile is a bit of a front. This is not actually surprising, given that Yujin’s family life kind of shafted him. He’s the son of a woman his father didn’t love, and has been pretty roundly ignored by his father all his life. No matter how well-adjusted a kid is, that leaves a mark. I also note that Yujin is the one who says Lin Shu was impatient with the younger kids and not fun to be around, and that Jingrui was the one who dragged them both after Lin Shu all the time. Yujin preferred Prince Qi.

Now that’s interesting. Because Yujin is clearly reasonably smart, and very observant; he follows along with all the complicated plans easily. But he preferred the significantly older Prince Qi to the brilliant and older but still part of his own generation Lin Shu. So, yeah, I’m checking the box for “dad issues” here, and running on the supposition that Yujin has basically been hungry for any kind of father figure (which probably also ties into his friendship with Prince Ji).

And I have to wonder whether Yujin’s social-butterfly mode isn’t a way of reassuring himself that, whatever’s wrong with him (because of course he thinks there’s something wrong with him) it can’t be /too/ bad, right? You can see hints of this anxiety in what he says when he comes to thank MCS for fixing his family–thanking him for /allowing Yujin to be properly filial, which he’s been failing to do/. Of course Yujin frames this as all his fault, and I don’t think that’s purely down to cultural convention.

Yujin is a very accomplished fighter (in the top ten of the tournament, survives the attack on the spring hunt) and quite willing to follow Jingrui around the pugilist world, but he has no contacts of his own there. He also isn’t the understudy of any of the military types, so I’m guessing that the military was never an ambition of his. Instead, he’s following as closely as possible in his family’s diplomatic footsteps (put another check in “dad issues” I’m thinking) which may, therefore, be both his hope and his interest. He’s definitely the one who reads people best, identifying right away when someone is having a one on one and dragging Jingrui away, setting up Prince Ji to witness Wei’s escape, etc.

Interpersonally… well, here’s where he gets slippery. Because Yujin seems to have no personal friends or connections besides Jingrui. He’s cut off from his family, for most of the series, and his social activities center, not to put too fine a point on it, among paid companions. He’s socially adept, but I’m guessing that he’s going to have some problems with any kind of mid-range relationships (not father or Jingrui but not courtesans either). And if there’s the slightest hint that something he does might injure his relationship with his father or Jingrui, he’s almost certainly going to strike that off the menu of options rather than risk it.

…which suggests that it’s /Jingrui/ who’s going to have to make the first move, oh god. Because Yujin will /never risk it/. That’s it, right there. *headdesk* Oh, this’ll be such a pain. Okay, need to think about Jingrui next.

from Tumblr
maat_seshat: Winged Maat sitting (Default)

[personal profile] maat_seshat 2017-06-20 11:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Interesting! I agree with a lot of this, but I think I'd argue about Yujin's lack of midrange connection: it seems to me more like he has a problem with close connections. Yujin is very good at taking casual friendships at face value: he's friendly with Xie Bi, Prince Ji, and even Xia Dong, for all his obvious nervousness around her. He's the one delegated at the summer palace to list off everyone, because he knows them all. He even manages to remain friendly with Mei Changsu after MCS rips Jingrui's life apart. Yujin actually can do friendship without trust better than almost anyone else in the show, because he takes what people give him and keeps his expectations realistic. And he's quite good at reading what people are willing to give him: he knows that MCS will throw him under a bus for his principles but that he still makes a good friend if Yujin can appeal to those principles.

On the other hand, he's not of a military family, and his father explicitly refuses to be part of the Empress's empire-building, which means Yujin has little exposure to having retainers, as opposed to informants. Retainers--Jingyan's generals, Mei Changsu's Jiangzuo, the Xia siblings to Xia Jiang--are people you trust on a fundamental level to support your goals at least in part because they're yours, right? Whereas informants and allies are people whose goals you think you understand and can work with: the way that Yan Que perceives Mei Changsu. In a hereditary world, a child generally inherits their first retainers from their family: Jingyan got assigned an army, Lin Shu was the young Marshal, Nihuang got the Mu forces, Jingrui got the Tianquan connections in jianghu, etc. Yujin got an empty house (he has the line about how their house would be a Daoist temple if he weren't in town) and an aunt that his father holds at a distance.

Which means that he has hella trust issues, which may get you to the same place, in terms of being unwilling to take risks with his relationship with Jingrui. But it also means he's very good at reading people, so if Jingrui acts like he trusts and is attracted to Yujin, even if it's subconscious or never made overt, Yujin probably has a decent chance of seeing that. And he was willing to take the risk of trusting his father to MCS's plans, even after what happened to Jingrui (that line about please understand that his father has reasons for everything he does, before taking MCS in to see him), because he has hope that it will improve both the court and his family, so I'm not sure Yujin is entirely unwilling to risk those he loves.
maat_seshat: Winged Maat sitting (Default)

[personal profile] maat_seshat 2017-06-22 12:14 am (UTC)(link)
Absolutely, yes, refusal of engagement. But the number of levels upon which he can engage or refuse to engage are more complicated than just "facile" or "never let go." He and Prince Ji know they're using each other, but they still like each other. I guess I'm saying that taking what people are willing to give also means meeting them halfway: noticing Xia Dong's injuries and risking his life to protect her (even with the understanding that she's probably using him), knowing that Mei Changsu doesn't consider him an equal but still smoothing MCS's way with his father (where he rushes to explain that MCS was chronically ill when Yan Que needles him) and expressing regular concern over his health. He may even be so close to Jingrui because Jingrui does give everything in his friendships, and so Yujin rises to meet that.

There's the bit where his father is talking about working with MCS because he's supporting Jingyan, and Yujin doesn't say, okay, dad, if you think that's the right thing. He says, if you and Sir Su have such faith in him, then I will, too. I don't think he gives up on MCS even after what he did to Jingrui because on some level Yujin expected him to do it, and so he can keep the qualified trust that he and MCS have built up with each other, because it was never the wholehearted trust of Jingrui that MCS ruptured.