Episode 1 begins, like many others, with a voiceover but one that is more impactful that the rest, "From this day onwards you are a god, a vengeful god. The mystery surrounding the massacre at Plum Blossom Temple must be uncovered, go, avenge your father," as a man (Zhu Yi Long) rides off deep into the perilous sandstorm.
In a tavern elsewhere, Mu Rong Ming Zhu takes an innocent hostage while another intervenes, teaching Mu Rong a lesson and stealing his identity in the process.
The man wears Mu Rong's clothes but a young woman recognizes him instantly, revealing that he is Ye Kai (Yu Qing Bin), a mischievous hero that she has admired for some time.
Ye Kai blows her cover in turn, stating that she is no ordinary girl because she is Ding Ling Lin (Gong Mi), the 7th miss of the prominent Ding family. Ling Lin is more than impressed with his deduction but she is left in a bind, literally, after Ye Kai refuses to take her along.
Ye Kai arrives at Border Town in an artificial setting that seems to have been taken right out of the pages of the Arabian Nights. He purposely makes a scene in order to be acknowledged by the innkeeper (Vincent Ziao En Jun) as Mu Rong Ming Zhu, the future son-in-law of Boss Wan.
The swordsman from the desert also enters the inn and his piercing demeanor catches the eye of lead harem Cui Nong (Chai Bi Yun), stirring ire and jealousy amongst the other customers.
To prevent conflict, Ye Kai invites Fu Hong Xue to stay with him and they spend an awkward evening together wherein Ye Kai attempts to make conversation and Hong Xue broods. A very literal hand to hand combat ensues between the two as Ye Kai tries and fails to sneak a peek at Hong Xue's saber.
The inn houses a spy network under Boss Wan and they learn that a highly-skilled member of the Evil Sect has come to Border Town.
Desperate to find the person, Cui Nong sends assassins to eliminate Ye Kai. Even though her group is defeated, the skirmish is enough for Cui Nong to conclude that Ye Kai is no immediate threat since his martial arts does not hail from the Evil Sect.
She also realizes belatedly that her initial apprehensions towards Fu Hong Xue are correct as he launches an attack on Boss Wan's entourage. To Hong Xue's surprise, a beautiful lady appears in defense.
First Impressions: The creators of New Xiao Shi Yi Lang are on a hot streak to reviving Gu Long novels as they reunite members from New Xiao Shi Yi Lang to join New Border Town Prodigal and second time's a charm in this case because the small screen is sizzling.
New Border Town Prodigal is undoubtedly a highlight in a year chock full of uneventful dramas and I am loving every single minute. It brings a fresh take on a classic that I didn't even realize I had already seen in a previous adaptation that must not have been that good starring Wallace Chung and Baron Chen.
Fu Hong Xue and Ma Fang Ling (Viann Zhan Xinyu) are two very flawed personas but their twisted and vengeful ways are oddly appealing, not to mention their drop dread gorgeousness, minus the towering hair that is.
Ye Kai and Ling Lin also share the limelight as the antithesis to the main couple that I laugh at their comical interactions, especially when she shoots a dagger at Ye Kai, by mistake.
Episodes 5-8 just came out so I recommend checking it out if not for the breathtaking sceneries then at least for the traditional wirework that is dearly missed in wuxia series.
Last but not the least, is this guy Huang Xiao Ming's doppelgänger or what?
For more synopsis, cast and ratings, see my 2016 Chinese historical drama listing.