Who else cried, because I certainly cried a lot this episode!
The incident was incredibly tragic, and the one that has to grieve for each loss was Lady Ah-Duo. First she loses her child– to simply because Fengming at the time did not know that the honey she was feeding the prince is considered poisonous for infants, and accidentally killed the baby as result of that. Then one of her servants commits suicide by throwing herself into the moat to prevent suspicions of their actions towards Lady Lishu from falling onto her. And finally Fengming turns herself in for attempting to murder Lady Lishu and is executed for it. How devastating.
And it’s sad, because Lady Ah-Duo was never interested in becoming a concubine, and yet she did and to her surprise she hung onto the role longer than she thought she would. In the beginning she was simply the Emperor’s friend, and now, being given a place in the south, she has gone back to that role. She’s an incredibly woman, and it’s not hard to imagine just how amazing of an Empress she could’ve been, but at the same time, perhaps she would be happier like this, more free to do as she pleases.
The reason why Fengming wanted to kill Lady Lishu was of two reasons. The first, was because she was afraid Lady Lishu would share her knowledge with Lady Ah-Duo about the dangers of honey. That was why, despite the fact that Lady Ah-Duo and Lady Lishu had such a wholesome relationship, one akin to a mother and a daughter, Fengming was determined keep them separated at all cost– which is sad considering the joy, comfort the two had brought each other, as well providing Lishu protection from the (at the time) former Emperor. But after the death of the former Emperor and Lishu returned to rear palace as a consort once more, she became a threat to Lady Ah-Duo’s position, and to prevent her inevitable removal, Fengming sought to eliminate Lady Lishu from the picture.
That was why Maomao suggested to her to simply turn herself solely on the claim that she had attempted to kill Lady Lishu with the intent to protect Lady Ah-Duo’s position. By doing so, while it doesn’t change the outcome of her fate– which was capital execution, but it at least allowed her to take her secret of accidentally killing the baby to the grave.
Though given Ah-Duo’s personality, I do feel like that she probably would have forgiven Fengming because while it was a grave error, it wasn’t intentional. It’s in part of why she didn’t blame any of her servants, and simply grieved on her own. It also pained Ah-Duo how her ladies in waiting were so willing to sacrifice themselves for her sake, to ensure that their errors would not cause her any dangers of suspicion to fall onto her– especially when it as entirely their own doing.
On top of the flurry of emotions, this episode also dropped a bomb to feed into speculations. Ever since Ah-Duo was introduced to us, the resemblance between her and Jinshi was basically impossible to ignore. And now throw in Maomao’s deductions of picking up the little details of simply the way Ah-Duo chose to word how her son was “taken away”. Of course “taken away” could be interpreted as ‘taken away by the will of the gods‘, or it can be said in the literal sense. Given the circumstances with Luomen’s expulsion from the palace, and the unmistakable resemblance strongly indicates the latter.
There is also the fact that Jinishi has a close relationship with Lady Ah-Duo, enough to grieve her departure. However, if he were to be her son, whether he were to know about his birth secret is an entirely different matter altogether. His tears could certainly indicate so, but it could also simply be grieving for the loss of a friend. After-all, he and Lady Ah-Duo were close enough to share drinks, one which she had hilariously left and came back only to kick him out, which is how he ended up finding Maomao.
But most importantly: Should it be revealed that he is in-fact the current Emperor’s first son, well that would certainly make things a whole lot more complicated– something Maomao would rather avoid at all cost. It would raise a lot of questions: For starters it would mean that it was the Empress’ baby (therefore the current Emperor’s brother) that had died at Fengming’s hands, the other would be whether or not the Empress even knew or eventually came to know about the baby swap. This whole possibility happened because as it turned out: Both Lady Ah-Duo and the Empress ended up giving birth at the exact same time, forcing Doctor Luomen to prioritize the Empress who had already had undergone a terribly harrowing delivery in the past, and consequentially resulted Ah-Duo losing her uterus, unable to give birth again. So order to ensure the best treatment for her newborn baby, the call to initiate a switch. This would not only, explain why Doctor Luomen was expelled from the palace, but also why Jinshi bears such uncanny resemblance to Ah-Duo, and why Ah-Duo said her baby was “taken away”.
The sheer complication and mess of the matter is exactly why Maomao would much rather brush it off as a “delusional idea” as she put it, and deny any knowledge of it. After-all, the one thing Maomao is keen of doing is feigning ignorance as a means to not give a straight answer to something she may know the answer to, but wants no part in, especially if it’s something as outrageously complicated as this one.