The Path Not Taken in Ashes of Love

Ashes of Love 香蜜沉沉烬如霜 ended amidst teary eyes and relieved sighs as 2018’s favorite Chinese drama for many of us. While executive producer, Liu Ning has already announced a Season 2 for the show; it’s worth glancing back at the paths not taken in Season 1.

For me, the show had quite a few ‘what-if’ moments. My take is, that till the point our merry gang departs for the Mortal Realm to experience hardships, the game of – I like to call it -‘Jin Mi’s  Choice’ (between the two brothers) could have gone either way. Could another path have been less painful for all and help Jin Mi avoid the Great Doom she was destined to befall? To that end, here are my top picks of moments where the story could have taken a different turn:

Spoilers galore...tread carefully!

1. Xu Feng refusing to accept the royal engagement

The main pivotal point was when Xu Feng essentially pulled the old like-father-like-son move. He decided not to accept Jin Mi and Run Yu’s engagement based on his own feelings rather than what would be an easier path for Jin Mi. Back in the day, his father, the Heavenly Emperor also refused to let go of his love, the Floral Immortal, Zifen and chose to imprison her than let her marry the Water Immortal. 

Xu Feng too had fallen in love with Jin Mi by the time her true parentage was revealed but Jin Mi at this point was under the influence of the Unfeeling Pill (Yun Elixir) and was content to go ahead with her pre-destined engagement.

He repeatedly misread her actions and assumed that she was expressing feelings for him. The results were some hilarious scenes like when he was showing off his closet full of mementos from past conquests to impress while Jin Mi simply thought he means to occupy an empty shelf with her head. 

Had he accepted that she were to be his sister-in-law, Jin Mi would have been the same girl that she was, naive, innocent and she would have been in a comfortable albeit passionless marriage with Run Yu (since this was before he turned evil and she did like him as a friend). 

2. The confrontation with Rat Fairy 

This was a tough call for the Night Immortal and a serious speed bump in his wedding plans with Jin Mi. The discovery of Rat Fairy being a rebel gave the Heavenly Empress a chance to accuse the Water Immortal. He retaliated by declaring Run Yu and Jin Mi’s engagement void but Run Yu pacifies him by requesting to postpone the wedding by a year instead. 

Even Xu Feng commended Run Yu on this close save but in time this gap of one year would prove to be fatal to his chances of getting a happily ever after with Jin Mi. 

3. Xu Feng following Jin Mi to the Mortal Realm

I get it that when one gets to know their mother is getting the woman they love killed in an alternate universe, you jump first, think later. However the Fire Immortal could have protected Jin Mi better if he had remained ...ehem... immortal (like the Night Immortal did). His breaking the rules by jumping in to the Cause and Effect Plate nearly resulted in Jin Mi being sent back to go through the process again! 

He basically chose jumping off to another realm over having an uncomfortable conversation with his mother…well I guess there I can’t blame him. Once in the mortal realm the bond between Xu Feng and Jin Mi was so strong that it even weakened the Yun Elixir and the choice was made. Therefore while imprudent, Xu Feng's decision paid off and truly felt like the moment when the scales tipped in his favor to win Jin Mi's heart. 

4. The meddling of the Moon Immortal

The most industrious wingman if there ever was would pale in front of the Moon Immortal. He is a great comic relief but creates some serious mischief. Using his magical red strings to connect Xu Feng and Jin Mi together in the mortal realm while knowing she is engaged to Run Yu may be edging towards tilting the scales unfairly. Also as the Moon Immortal isn’t he supposed to like the Night Immortal better…just naturally? 

His biased intentions ultimately gave the added nudge to push the lovebirds towards each other.  However this action might not have contributed to turning the tide towards Jin Mi choosing Xu Feng as much as the earlier ones. Once in the mortal realm, I believe their destinies would have gotten them together no matter who intervened.

Do you agree with these? Did I miss your top pick? Do tell.


  1. She would have never been happy with Runyu bc she would have the pill in her body thus never knowing real feelings. I also think that if she didnt have the pill she would have realized her feelings for Xufeng earlier on. Imo she liked him since before her engagement was announced.

    I think a big what if would be if she hadnt killed XuFeng at the wedding. I think they wouldnt have been happy this way bc once again the pill.

  2. Another what if -- What if Run Yu didn't fix Jin Mi's yun elixir? Would she have cancelled the engagement and gone with Xu Feng?

  3. What if the Rat immortal was not successful of disturbing Xu Feng when he was trying to reach the stage of Nirvana. He would of not went into the flower realm and meet Jin Mi. Night immortal would never meet Jin Mi either.

    What if Xu Feng just left with out being Jin Mi back with him to the heaven realm then there would be no story ����

    1. This is the best "what if". The whole show is cancelled lol. But I believe they would have met in another way.

  4. What if they make the exlixir pill more sensible, is it a pill to make a person dumb and illogic? Or is it a pill that still allow you to understand logics, but just not feeling anything? They made Jinmi dumb to a certain point that annoyed many viewers. She should have logics, just because she doesn't feel anything, doesn't mean she gets excuses to ignore other people feelings bc she should have the "knowledge" about life. There are "unfeeling" people in real life too, and they are not dumb to reality. For example, even when everyone is only a kid we all understand the concept of love but that doesn't mean it's bc we had romantic partners that's why we are able to comprehend it, we just understand it because it's a concept of how life works. What's so confusing?
    Then it's also a question, if she is unfeeling (to everything? or just love between man and woman?)then why does she still undersatnd love of friendships like toward her one friend that died?

    1. I agree. The lack of the logic of the pill confused me too. Maybe it was clearer in the book? I think it would have been simpler just to say she doesn't have or understand romantic or sexual feelings instead making her character act like a dumb child because she clearly wasn't unfeeling as she cared about people and her friends.

  5. What if Jinmi actually stayed when Phoenix got reborn in the cave?! It would cut short the angst imo.

  6. I think Jin Mi going through with the marriage to the fish would hurt her in the long run, because her real feelings for Xu Feng would break the pill eventually. She was already in love with him as well, but could not figure out the reason for the pain in her heart -her true self imprisoned in the frozen shell trying to break free. When that happened she'd already be in a marriage with RY but being unable to break away, she'd be pining forever, just like her father who's in his own loveless marriage.

  7. Jin Mi was already falling in love with Xu Feng before the mortal realm. Her natural instincts toward Xu Feng was a telling sign even if she didn't understand it. If she didn't kill Xu Feng, the pill would've eventually break. I think that was 1 of the thing about their love story, that it's so strong, it can break the pill. It was really selfish of Runyu of fix it knowing how she felt about Xu Feng. In the was a truly beautiful heartbreaking drama. Xu Feng becoming the Demon King was one of the best twist.