We somehow managed to pick the best WangXian scenes in The Untamed, but believe us when we say it was difficult to do. (spoilers)
The Untamed (陈情令) is a Chinese historical fantasy show that is available to watch on Netflix in its entirety and has taken the internet by storm. What sets The Untamed apart from other shows like it, is the fact that it is about two soulmates/life partners, Lan Zhan Wanji and Wei Ying WuXian (WangXian), and the story of their relationship. Not only is it groundbreaking in terms of Chinese censorship in regards to the LGBT aspect of their relationship, but how there isn’t another epic LGBT fantasy love story like it on the small or big screen.
LGBT relationship representation in media is still a rarity, especially ones with happy endings and a slow build with complexities where the story arc is more about what’s happening around them and how they deal with harsh life choices, along with the consequences of those choices spanning years.
Recently I wrote about normalizing LGBT representation and relationships in fantasy, so watching The Untamed and seeing WangXian’s relationship unfold was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date.
In a way, the censorship hoops the production went through in order to make it made their relationship more profound, more pure, and the most epic slow burn. It shows that love can be shown and felt without saying the words “I love you,” and sometimes it’s trailing off sentences that imply more than they are able to say.
As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words,” and The Untamed is drenched with these moments, from Lan Zhan incurring punishment after punishment, after helping Wei WuXian time and time again, to him no longer hesitating to stand by Wei WuXian’s side despite the consequences of doing so.
I’ve compiled a list of the best and most poignant WangXian scenes in The Untamed; a daunting task considering it’s 50 episodes of tension, love, and longing. Beware, this list has major plot and relationship spoilers!
10 best WangXian scenes in ‘The Untamed’
Wei WuXian’s punishment in the Library Pavilion in episode 5
Wei WuXian’s punishment is to write out the Lan Clan’s disciplines. While doing so half heartedly, Wei WuXian tries to get Lan Wanji’s attention by leaning on his desk and is only able to do so by calling him by his formal name.
Lan Zhan wants Wei WuXian to apologize sincerely for his transgression, to which Wei WuXian jokes that he could do it on his knees. This, of course, gets a glare from Lan Zhan and a silence spell cast upon Wei WuXian.
Not only that, but after a short cut scene, Wei WuXian draws a portrait of Lan Zhan instead of writing down the disciplines, along with switching Lan Zhan’s book out with a NSFW picture book, which Lan Zhan rips up. He keeps the portrait though.
WangXian in the Cold Cave in episode 6
Lan Zhan and Wei WuXian are dragged into a hidden Cold Cave where they find an ancient guqin (zither) that attacks anyone who isn’t part of the Lan Clan. In order to save Wei WuXian from its backlash, Lan Zhan wraps his headband around both of their wrists, essentially handfasting them.
The Lan Clan headband is sacred and can only be touched by family and significant others/cultivation partners. Throughout the show not only does Wei WuXian touch Lan Zhan’s headband multiple times, he also takes it off and puts it back on Lan Zhan, giving an unspoken depth to their relationship that toes the line of Chinese censorship.
Later on in the series, Wei WuXian touches Lan Zhan’s headband as he possesses a paper man for seemingly no reason except that he wants to before heading off for a mission. It’s obvious that the production team wanted to make it known that Wei WuXian and Lan Zhan are more than friends; they’re soulmates and lifelong confidants.
WangXian lantern lighting in episode 7
While everyone attending the lecture at Cloud Recesses make paper lanterns, most of the romantic couples are paired up, WangXian are sitting next to each other and Wei WuXian asks if Lan Zhan would like to light a lantern with him.
Wei WuXian’s lantern has a rabbit on it; a nod to the rabbits they found in Cold Cave when Lan Zhan wrapped his headband around Wei WuXian’s wrist.
Together they make a pact as they let the lantern go together to stand with justice and live with no regrets as the lantern floats away.
Turtle cave scenes in episodes 13 and 14
I’m putting these together because they all take place within Turtle Cave. Wei WuXian using Lan Zhan’s headband to wrap his injured leg and Lan Zhan’s reaction to not only Wei WuXian taking off his headband, but also when he forces the “stale blood” out of Lan Zhan by pretending to take off both his and Lan Zhan’s clothes and essentially making Lan Zhan throw up the blood out of distress was one of the best scenes of the entire series in terms of WangXian material.
Not to mention when Lan Zhan gets jealous about Wei WuXian saving Mianmian, but Wei WuXian assumes that Lan Zhan likes Mianmian. The resulting look from Lan Zhan is priceless, as if he’s saying: “Are you serious right now? I like YOU!”
It got even better though, after Wei WuXian gets hurt in the cave and Lan Zhan sings him a song; their theme song that is a duet of the two of them singing, while a montage of their scenes together up until that point plays.
Wei WuXian asks what the name of it was, but he passes out before he heard what it was. The name, though they don’t say it flat out in the show, is lip synced as WangXian. Lan Zhan named a song he wrote for Wei WuXian after the two of them, and it’s underscored in almost every single one of their scenes together.
First conversation WangXian have after Wei WuXian returns from the Burial Mounds in episode 20
When Wei WuXian appears after the burial mounds with new powers, he is confronted with both Lan Zhan and Liang Cheng. Wei WuXian calls Lan Zhan Hanguang-Jun, his title, instead of his name, putting a divide between them. The scene is heartbreaking because before now, Wei WuXian was never distant. He demeans the Lan Clan when Lan Zhan tells him there is a price to pay when using the demonic powers.
Lan Zhan tells Wei WuXian that he wants to take him to Cloud Recesses to help him, and the cinematography for this scene stands out as it shows half of their faces and the devastation of the situation by the back and forth of the camera.
The Jin Clan Night Hunt in episode 25
After a talk with Lan XiChen in a previous episode about not being selfish and a realization that his decisions affect those he cares about, Wei WuXian attempts to avoid Lan Zhan and send him away because Lan Zhan’s brother asked him to keep his distance. Lan Zhan, of course, comes to his side as soon as he sees him.
Lan Zhan has learned new music to help Wei WuXian’s temperament, but Wei WuXian doesn’t want him to help. The ensuing conversation has Lan Zhan asking who he is to Wei WuXian, to which he answers “I used to treat you as my lifelong confidant,” to which Lan Zhan responds “I still am.”
Immediately after this confession, there is a confrontation with Jin Zixun and other members of the Jin Clan, where Lan Zhan attempts to keep Wei WuXian calm by holding onto his arm. Throughout, Lan Zhan doesn’t look away from Wei WuXian despite everything going on around them. The blocking and cinematography are key in these scenes, especially in terms of Lan Zhan’s sole focus being Wei WuXian.
Lan Zhan allows Wei WuXian escape with the remainder of the Wen Clan in episode 25 and 26
One of the most poignant WangXian scenes in The Untamed is when Lan Zhan leaves a meeting with the clan leaders in order to stop Wei WuXian from taking Wen clan members and escaping with them.
When Lan Zhan arrives in the rain, Wei WuXian asks him if he is going to stop him. It’s as close to begging as Lan Zhan gets, pleading for Wei WuXian not to go. He lets him by after Wei WuXian says that he hopes that if there is a fight, they will fight together, but if he has to die, being killed by Lan Zhan would be worth it.
What really gets me is the sheer amount of emotion radiating off of Lan Zhan throughout the entire scene when his face remained stoic. Wang Yibo’s eyes are so expressive that his heartbreak is palpable.
The reunion in episode 1
The first time that Lan Zhan and Wei WuXian come face to face in the series is actually the first time that Lan Zhan has seen Wei WuXian in 16 years. Not only does Lan Zhan grab hold of Wei WuXian’s wrist as he plays the flute, which is one of the few times in the series that they consciously touch, but Wei WuXian is playing the song that Lan Zhan wrote for him.
On top of Lan Zhan holding onto Wei WuXian’s arm, Wei WuXian then drops his flute to the ground and grasps Lan Zhan’s hand as they stare at each other in silence for a tension-filled extended amount of time before they are interrupted by Jiang Cheng.
Lan Zhan chooses to stand with Wei WuXian at Lanling in episode 42
In Lanling, completely surrounded by the other clans out to capture Wei WuXian once more, Wei WuXian tries to give Lan Zhan an out by separating them so that Lan Zhan won’t be implicated alongside him. Lan Zhan, who lived with the regret of not choosing to stand by Wei WuXian’s side 16 years ago at the Nightless City, refuses to step aside.
In fact, Lan Zhan draws his weapon, standing his ground beside Wei WuXian. He has a second chance to choose Wei WuXian’s side and he won’t stand back and allow Wei WuXian to stand alone like he had years before.
Lan Zhan brings up the saying that Wei WuXian used to say, about how he’d rather walking along a single log bridge than walking a crowded, broad avenue, and how he wants to travel that path with him. He says all of this while swords are pointed at them.
Wei WuXian gives Lan Zhan a final chance to back away, but the two of them stand back to back together, ready to fight alongside each other… and they do.
The final scene in episode 50
The final 10 minutes of The Untamed is all Lan Zhan and Wei WuXian circling around each other, going back and forth on staying or going. They’ve both got lives to live, but can’t decide if they should travel together, stay at Cloud Recesses, or separate all together.
I’d say that the final 10 minutes had my heart beating quicker than the rest of the series because what if they didn’t go off together? What if they decided to go their own paths? It was truly heart wrenching as they came together and then separated multiple times in those last few minutes.
A true “will they, won’t they,” where they finally leave each others sides, with a shot of Wei WuXian playing his flute, their song, and a pan back across the beautiful countryside looks to be the final shot of the series. But the words “Wei Ying” are muttered from off screen, said by Lan Zhan, and Wei WuXian stops playing his flute, turns around, sees Lan Zhan off screen, and smiles the biggest, warmest smile.
The last shot speaks volumes not only to the end of their story, but how it opens the doors to more epic LGBT+ fantasy romances to be shown on the small screen with such care and compassion as the The Untamed did.
Not only are all of the above scenes vital to WangXian’s relationship dynamic, but there are smaller details that can be seen throughout the series that adds yet more layers to their epic love story.
Throughout the series, especially once Wei WuXian starts cultivating with demonic energy, Lan Zhan protects Wei WuXian during fights, blocking enemies while Wei WuXian plays the flute or is unable to fight because he can no longer use a sword. This makes for epic fight scenes where Lan Zhan visually keeps Wei WuXian safe. Not only that, but he protects Wei WuXian from Fairy, Jin Ling’s spirit dog, without thinking about it because Wei WuXian is terrified of dogs.
The music in The Untamed is important, especially in terms of their song, which is is titled WangXian within the show but Unrestrainted otherwise, that Lan Zhan wrote for them and that the two actors sing as a duet.
Throughout the series WangXian is played as an underscore in almost every scene they have together, or when they are thinking about each other. In more poignant scenes, the version is played where they sing it, giving even more emotions to whatever is happening in the moment, such as when WangXian plays as Lan Zhan takes punishment for letting Wei WuXian escape with the Wen clan by having to kneel in the snow for days.
Something that goes throughout the present scenes that is pertinent to their relationship is the fact that once Wei WuXian comes back into Lan Zhan’s life in the present day, he barely spends a second away from him, staying by his side. The lengths that Lan Zhan goes to and went through for Wei WuXian is epic in and of itself, but once they find each other again the only person he looks at in a crowded room is his soulmate.
Not mentioned, though I wish I could have included them, were the revelation scenes of their secrets (Lan Zhan’s scars and Wei WuXian’s lack of golden core), Lan Zhan carrying Wei WuXian, their date in Yiling with Wen Yuan, the roof scene when Lan Zhan says he wants to help Wei WuXian and he accepts, along with the drunken scenes in episode 6 and 36.
There are simply too many amazing scenes with them where their relationship transcends the limitations allowed in the script, as seen in the actor’s choices when delivering not only lines, but body language choices and implications behind movement in general, such as Wei WuXian hiding behind Lan Zhan whenever Jin Ling’s dog appears .
Going back and rewatching The Untamed heightens every interaction between them, cementing the idea for me that this is one of the most epic love stories I have ever witnessed. It isn’t every day you see a slow burn like this, and I for one, cherished every moment of it.