Okay not gonna lie, I thought this episode was a bit weirdly put together. The first half was fine, but it was the second half that kind of came off as sorta clunky. But since I’ve reread the novels up to the latest volume (9), I think I understand why it ended up feeling that way, and I’ll get to that in a moment.
The first half of the episode involved properly identifying what caused Kounen, (a well liked bureaucrat) to die so suddenly. As Jinshi was close to the man, getting to the bottom of this was important for finding closure. That’s why he sought for Maomao’s insight, because he wasn’t convinced by belief that Kounen had died from alcohol overdose.
As it turns out, what killed him was salt that had been mixed in his drink. Salt isn’t considered a poison, but it can be on the body if one consumes too much of it. Unfortunately Kounen couldn’t taste salt, only sweetness, so Maomao’s diagnosis of his death was the accumulation of salt mixed with his alcohol is what killed him. Whether the one who put the rock-salts into the drink on purpose is left to be seen, but their eyes in the beginning of the episode certainly suggests a malicious intent.
For the second half of the episode covered the death of the servant under Consort Ah-Duo, supposedly related to the poisoning of Lishu. It was initially believed that it was suicide, but signs of struggle from her redden fingers, and the fact that her feet were bounded made it impossible for her to ascend the wall on her own. These two details alluded to the possibility that she may have in fact been murdered, and was pushed off the wall while she was a live to make it look like it had been suicide.
This half of the episode was okay up until the point they inserted the whole “walking on a fine line of death” montage. And I’m not gonna sugar coat it, I thought it was bad. Like, it was so obviously shoved in for the sake of it-– and for me it just it just ended up disrupting the whole scene to the point I actually cringed. I know they were trying to get the emotional sentiment across, but I feel like… I don’t know, it didn’t feel like it really fit. It felt too random and all I could think of was in that moment was: What is happening right now? I wish they didn’t do it, but I don’t know what else they could’ve done. This was just one of those moments you have to shrug off since all things considered, it’s really just a minor thing, which may be considered a pet-peeve more than anything.
And for further context: The chapter they covered was pretty short to begin with. So as you can imagine, when you have limited content to use for the remaining time of the episode, what do you think is going to happen? They have to insert something to fill up that time, right?
That said, the one thing that the montage did succeed doing however (and perhaps this was the intent), was showing Maomao’s thoughts of death, and how she understands very well how no one can predict when it happens. So if she were to have control over it, the way she’d want to die would be by poison. That’s why she had asked Jinshi to put a word in hopes that she would be granted that, should she, god forbid be lined up for an execution. To no surprise Jinishi was quite disturbed by that, but who wouldn’t be?
And finally, the episode concluded with addressing the Garden Party’s poisoning incident. Gaoshun and JInshi have been long investigating behind the scenes, and finally they managed to track down the one behind it: Fengming, Head Lady-in-Waiting of the Garnet Pavilion who serves under Consort Ah-Duo.
I will admit, this bit had initially left me feeling a bit confused, as though they had cut out something in the middle. But that was because they actually switched the time of its placement. This was a scene that would have happened right before Kounen’s case, but instead they flipped it to be at the end of the episode. In hindsight this re-arrangement does make sense in the adaption for the sake of the flow, but it certainly left my head spinning hahahaha.
Overall it was a good solemn episode that still had its funny moments like with Maomao just chugging away at the alcohol though, and seeing how protective she was of the bottle which Jinshi gifted her as a reward after he teased her about she hasn’t expressed her gratitude enough when he mentioned there’s a bill that suggests raising the drinking age to twenty. There’s two things Maomao can’t live without: Alcohol and Poison!
Although we already know that Jinshi and Gaoshun have already found evidence to point to Lady Fengming being the culprit behind attempting to poison Consort Lishu, it’s clear like the previous case with Kounen, Jinshi hopes for Maomao to do something only she can do. In particular for this assignment, Jinshi didn’t give her any specifics, which means it’s up to her to decide on what action should be taken, or at least intervene in a way that Jinshi himself would not be able to do.
We weren’t told too much about the relationship between the Emperor and Lady Ah-Duo, but what we do know is that she was and still is someone he deeply cherishes. Back then when the Emperor was still a Prince, she was his only concubine. She gave birth to a son around the same time the Empress gave birth to the Emperor’s younger brother. However Ah-Duo’s baby ended up dying in infancy, and she hasn’t been able to have a child after that, so their situation had changed. We also learned that Lulemon was banished following the death of their prince, which resulted him being expelled and punished by losing a bone in his knee.
And then there was Lady Lishu. The reason why she’s afraid of honey is because when she was a baby it made her very ill, so since then she has been told not to eat it. Fortunately both Maomao and Gyokuyou were able to graciously save her face by coming up with a valid excuse to switch to ginger tea instead. We also learned that part of her fear with honey also has something to do with Lady Fengming as well.
But goodness, we already knew Lishu was surrounded by terrible ladies, but it still pisses me off to see them waiting have the audacity to act like they are thinking of her best interests while at the same time, lazying about, not even paying attention to their consort and talking behind her back. At the very least Lishu has her food taster (crap I forget her name) who has finally turned a new leaf for the better, but I wish they could just fire all those awful ladies. But Lishu is unable to stand up for herself when she is being constantly being subjecting to gas-lighting, not realizing that these ladies are stirring mistrust to outsiders who otherwise look out for Lishu so that she would only trust their word. However it’s also sad that Lishu hasn’t been able to sense something is amiss with her surroundings based on simple observations of how other ladies in waiting behave with their consorts. Then again, Lishu was sent to the inner palace when she was merely a child. She had no one within her circle to rely on, nor anyone who bothered to truly care for her. There was one glimmer of hope however, but to my surprise they didn’t touch on it this episode (though they did briefly hint at it), so I’ll save touching on that next week so I don’t spoil too much.
And finally, as Maomao keenly observed herself, Jinshi has noticeably been acting less ‘professional’ around her as the late. She doesn’t quite get it herself, but it does show that he trusts her and considers her someone close to him to let his guard down to the point he’s much more youthful and mischievous around her. That said, I think we can all agree that Jinshi definitely took it too far with the honey joke, because I mean, EW. Who wants to take that from someone’s fingers? That’s disgusting man —unless you’re into that kind of thing, but to each their own. Maomao definitely drove the point home with Gaoshun when she straight-up told him, “You should lick it then,” which of course made him feel nauseous. Bless Lady Gyokuyou for showing up at the nick of time to send Jinshi scurrying.
Compared to last week’s episode, I was happy to see this one was much better executed, and I know next week it’s going to be an emotional one because the first thing that crossed my mind at the end of this one was: Ah man, next week gonna make me cry I know it. So take that as you will. 😉
Oh and yes, Lady Ah-Duo most certainly resembles a certain dazzling man, to the point you could probably switch outfits with the two and you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference.