Impressed by Hu’s knowledge, Professor Chen accepts him on to the team. He gets introduced to the three other students of Professor Hao: Sa Di Peng majors in archaeology but his super interested in aliens. Chu Jian’s specialty is hiking. Last, the only female student is Ye Yi Xin.
After the introductions of the students, the other woman who was previously working with Professor Chen before they arrived approaches the group with praises for Hu. Professor Chen introduces her as the sponsor of their research team: Shirley Yang. She’s a photographer for the American magazine National Geographic. Fatso tries to make a joke out of her name and in turn has her questioning his skills. Hu defends him and says that Fatso is a very skilled marksman.
Fatso then jumps into a story about how he defeated bandits in the Xinjiang (Hu looks exasperated at this point) and brags about taking down their leader. He then shows off the jade heirloom he wears around his neck as a trophy of his achievement.
Professor Hao points out that the extermination of bandits in Xinjiang occurred around the the founding of China and asks when he was born and what year he served.
Professor Chen takes an interest in his jade and asks to take a look at it. He shares a look with Shirley and she agrees to let Fatso join the team. She tells them that they will be paid $10,000 USD for going on this expedition and if they find Jingjue Kingdom, they will be paid double. Hu and Fatso agree and they leave to get ready.
Back in the house, Professor Chen tells Shirley that the characters on the jade pendant were that of Devil’s Cave. Devil’s Cave dwellers were an ancient minority ethnic group in the Western Regions. Unfortunately, they’re all extinct now and more studies needs to be done on the Devil’s Cave characters. Shirley agrees and shares that those characters might be related to the secret of the Jingjue Kingdom but she can’t be sure of it until the notebook is found.
Professor Chen picks up a notebook and they resume talking about their route. A newspaper with a photo of Hu with five other soldiers is revealed. No clue why Hu was the only one circled.
On the train, the scene opens with Hu and Fatso playing a card game with the other two male students until Hu is called away by Professor Chen. Fatso goes to see what’s up and sees Hu angrily exiting the compartment he was in with Professor Chen. Fatso follows him to the train door and after a few silent moments of watching Hu smoke, he asks what happened.
Hu tells him that they’re changing routes and heading to the glacier of Karakoram first. Fatso doesn’t seem to mind this change in plans but Hu is adamant about not going. The reason is because he did his military service there so he knows how dangerous it is. He also recounts of a time when something really strange happened to him there.
One time him and his partner were out getting supplies. On their drive back, a flash of blue hit their windshield, causing them to brake suddenly. They go out of the truck to check it out and it turns out to be this strange blue beetle like bug that they’ve never seen before. His partner decides to catch it in a jar to keep. They return back to the truck but now it won’t start. A pipe is broken so Hu tells his partner to stay behind and watch the supplies as he heads towards the military depot to get help.
However, when Hu returns, he finds his partner missing and a patch of snow completely burnt and charred in the shape of a human. The glass jar with the bug is nearby with the cap off and the bug is no where in sight.They concluded that he must have been burnt to death.
At the end of his story, they discover that Shirley has been eavesdropping on them. She doesn’t say anything except invite them to her compartment to talk. Once inside, she shows Hu a picture and asks if it’s the bug he saw. It is. The bug is called the Beetle of Fire, literally meaning the beetle sets things aflame. It has only ever been recorded by travelers and archaeologist worldwide. Many people consider it a legend.
Professor Chen asks for Hu to share his encounter with the bug with them. Hu tells them of the time when his squad was assigned a top secret mission but something happened midway. One of his comrades trip and fell into the glacier. As they’re standing around the dying comrade, the blue bug comes flying and crashes right into one of the soldiers there. He bursts into blue flames and they watch in horror as he burns to death. Witnessing such scene scared some of the younger soldiers and shots were fired. More of the blue beetles came flying out and they shot at it while trying to run away. This triggered and avalanche that buried all of them. Hu was the only one who survived that incident.
Professor Chen tries to explain what happened then. The avalanche wasn’t caused by the shots fired but by a light earthquake. He read about it in an incident report that was later verified by the National Bureau of Geology. The earthquake caused a crack in the foothill east of Karakoram. Hu questions how any of this has to do with their search for Jingjue Kingdom. Professor Chen explains that his close friend was the one leading the expedition that went before them (aka Shirley Yang’s father). They made a detour to the glacier of Karakoram for unknown reasons. Then they went missing. The final distress signal came from the foothill east of Karakoram so they’re speculating that their disappearance has something to do with the crack.
Fatso asks what is it that they’re looking for. A notebook. They’re trying to look for the notebook of a British explorer, Mr. Walter, who recorded step-by-step in his diary how they discovered Jingjue Kingdom. It plays a crucial role in their search for the kingdom in the desert. Hu thinks it over and agrees to go with them to the glacier.
Back at the door area, Fatso agrees why Hu decided to go with them when he was so adamant about not going earlier. Hu tells him that after listening to them, he realized that he’s been a coward all this time by trying to avoid it. He thinks it’s time that he needs to come to terms with what happened and face it head on.
Two other soldiers – Ga Wa and Titan – join their team as additional protection when they arrive at the glacier. The team is wished good luck as they start their trek through the snow.
After a while, they finally stop to take a rest and Hu starts looking around. He recognizes it as the place where his comrades had fallen when he finds a pin that belonged to one of them. Shirley watches him from afar.
The episode ends when they reached the crack.
Those blue bugs are terrifying! Though I’m curious as to how they would actually work in real life. After watching Stay With Me, watching Chen Qiao En in this drama is like seeing a completely different person. Her character here is a complete 180 from the adorable, bubbly Li Weiwei. Shirley Yang is more stoic and cold and seems to only talk on a need-to basis. I like this change. I’m curious as to how her character will pan out.