‘The Untamed’: 5 times Lan XiChen captained the WangXian ‘ship
In case you’ve been living under a rock & don’t know yet, The Untamed is a Chinese BL drama based on the novel, Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. Set in ancient China, it follows a community of supernaturally charged cultivators as they rid the land of evil & corruption.
At the heart of it all is the story of Wei Wuxian (Xiao Zhan) & Lan Wangji (Wang Yibo). While the show is highly censored due to strict laws & regulations in China regarding LGBTQ depictions on television, the forbidden relationship that develops between these two characters takes center stage.
The creators of this show masterfully skirted censorship issues. They used many symbols & tricks to show the development of the relationship, including supporting characters.
Enter Lan XiChen (Liu HaiKuan). He is Lan Wangji’s brother and we have coined him the certified captain of the WangXian ship. From the moment Wei Wuxian & Lan Wangji meet each other, Lan Xichen, older & wiser than his younger brother, seems to understand that there is a connection between Lan Wangi & Wei Wuxian that runs very deep. It could be argued that Lan XiChen knew the boys loved each other before they even did.
He never tries to dissuade them from spending time together. In the beginning, he is even responsible for shoving them together in situations that Lan Wangji would otherwise have avoided because of propriety. The more Lan Wangji seems to struggle with his feelings, the more Lan XiChen pushes them together. We stan a supportive brother!
While we acknowledge there are many moments throughout the 50 episodes where Lan XiChen valiantly & shamelessly steers these two boys together, we have put together a list of our top 5 favorite moments of Lan XiChen playing captain of the WangXian ship.
Episode 43: He’s your soulmate
Towards the beginning of this episode, Wei Wuxian & Lan XiChen have some time together without Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian takes this moment to ask about the whipping scars on Lan Wangji’s back. He informs Wei Wuxian that they were part of Lan Wangji’s punishment for protecting Wei Wuxian’s honor after he died.
Lan XiChen goes on to tell Wei Wuxian the tale of all the things Lan Wangji did after Wei Wuxian died, and all the consequences that brought to Lan Wangji’s life. Lan Wangji endured 300 lashes, repenting in the cold cave, and was banished to the back hill of Cloud Recesses for three years.
While Lan Wangji was imprisoned, Lan XiChen went to him to try and talk some sense into him. Lan Wangji’s response was that he considered Wei Wuxian his soulmate. Wei Wuxian is overcome with emotion.
This moment landed itself in the number one position because of the forward and honest manner in which Lan XiChen says these words. Up until this point, while his support for the pair is clear, he is always subtle & even sometimes cryptic in the way he delivers his approval.
Censorship be damned, though. In this moment, Lan XiChen comes right out and says exactly what everyone wanted to hear: Wei Wuxian & Lan Wangji are soulmates, and that’s all there is to it. Even though Wei Wuxian is the reason Lan Wangji suffered all those years, Lan XiChen knows that Wei Wuxian brings Lan Wangji happiness, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Wei Wuxian then stumbles inside after Lan Wangji, clearly overwhelmed by this declaration. Us too!
Episode 42: Cold Recesses
At Carp Tower, after everyone figures out that Wei Wuxian is in fact not Mo Xuanyu (Xiao Zhan), but actually a reincarnated Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji & Wei Wuxian fight everyone off before making a run for it. They escape, but Wei Wuxian is badly injured in the fight and passes out soon after they escape Carp Tower. While he is passed out, Lan Wangji takes him back to Cloud Recesses.
It’s a bold move for Lan Wangji, as Cloud Recesses is a very chaste environment with many rules – over three thousand in fact. It certainly isn’t the type of place where you hide a forbidden love who is being hunted by everyone else in the cultivation community.
However, when Wei Wuxian regains consciousness and he realizes Lan Wangji brought him to his home, mild panic sets in. Just when Wei Wuxian is asking Lan Wangji what will happen if Lan XiChen finds out Wei Wuxian is here, Lan XiChen appears in the room, informing Wei Wuxian that he is here because Lan XiChen approved of the situation.
Lan XiChen goes on to tell Wei Wuxian that he actually asked Lan Wangji to bring Wei Wuxian back to Cloud Recesses. He says that Wei Wuxian will be safe from the rest of the cultivation community at Cloud Recesses because they won’t come looking for him while Lan XiChen is there.
While Lan XiChen tries to downplay the moment as being one of Wei Wuxian’s safety, Lan Wangji knows that his brother did this for him. Wei Wuxian is Lan Wangji’s past, his present & his future, and he needs him close. Lan XiChen has never stood in their way before, and he isn’t about to start now.
Episode 6: the Cold Pond
While this moment is fleeting, it’s profound! After taking quite the beating as punishment for getting drunk (an activity banned at Cloud Recesses), Wei Wuxian runs into Lan XiChen as he is stumbling his way through Cloud Recesses. Lan XiChen informs Wei Wuxian that he feels his punishment might have been excessive. He offers a solution to speed up recovery.
With a smirk on his face, Lan XiChen informs Wei Wuxian that he should go to the Cold Pond to assist faster recovery. Viewers are treated to the smirk, so it’s clear that Lan XiChen is up to something, but we don’t actually get to hear him tell Wei Wuxian that the Cold Pond his destination.
It’s not until Wei Wuxian arrives at the Cold Pond are viewers able to put the pieces. Lan XiChen told Wei Wuxian to go to the Cold Pond because Lan Wangji was also there working on healing faster. Lan XiChen knew the boys would be alone and would be able to spend some uninterrupted, private time together.
We wonder if Lan XiChen also knew that Lan Wangji would be naked? Inquiring minds want to know. . .
Episode 5: Hunting water ghosts
In this episode, Lan Wangji & Lan XiChen are heading out on a night hunt to fight water ghosts. Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng (Wang Zhou Cheng), and Wen Qing (Meng Ziyi) request to go with them. Lan Wangji, ever stoic, says that there is no need for the trio to accompany the Lan clan members on this hunt.
With a mischievous smirk, Lan XiChen agrees with the others: the young students should indeed come along. As they set off, Lan Wangji asks his brother why he allowed the others to accompany them. Lan XiChen responds that he could tell from the look on Lan Wangji’s face that he wanted them to, or more pointedly, he wanted Wei Wuxian to come along.
This scene is poignant because it shows that even before Lan Wangji was able to articulate his own feelings for Wei Wuxian, Lan XiChen was able to recognize their connection and assist in helping the matter along.
Lan Wangji is clearly still conflicted about his feelings for Wei Wuxian. Lan XiChen’s actions here show Lan Wangji that his brother supports him spending time with Wei Wuxian. While this makes Lan Wangji uncomfortable in the moment, it could be argued that without Lan XiChen’s blatant support, Lan Wangji may never have allowed himself to accept his feelings.
Episode 7: Leaving Cloud Recesses
At the very end of this episode, the clan disciples are making preparations to head back to their respective homes. Lan Wangji is watching longingly as Wei Wuxian walks away with his siblings when Lan XiChen approaches from behind, having witnessed Lan Wangji’s state.
He mentions to Lan Wangji that Cloud Recesses will be quiet again once Wei Wuxian leaves, yet this statement isn’t one of disapproval. It’s warm and it is clear Lan Xichen is hoping Lan Wangji will engage in the conversation about how he feels. Lan Wangji, true to his nature, does not.
So Lan XiChen tries again. He asks if Lan Wangji is planning on telling Wei Wuxian that Lan Wangji is headed out on a mission to find the Yin Iron alone, suggesting that Lan Wangji should tell Wei Wuxian so that Wei Wuxian can accompany him. Lan Wangji says no, understanding the implication of Lan XiChen’s question, and walks away before the matter can be pressed any more.
This unspoken, yet incredibly obvious show of support for Wei Wuxian & Lan Wangji’s relationship functions in much the same way as our previous selection in episode 5. At this stage in the show, the relationship between Wei Wuxian & Lan Wangji was still very elementary, fraught with confusion & forbidden feelings.
While he never explicitly says the words at this point, Lan XiChen uses subterfuge to let Lan Wangji know that what he is feeling is okay. As if that wasn’t enough, Lan XiChen’s face is incapable of hiding his amusement over his brother’s relationship with Wei Wuxian. He smirks & smiles his approval all over Cloud Recesses for everyone to see, and thank the ancient Chinese gods that he did.
The Untamed is available to stream on Netflix, Viki, Youtube, and WeTV.