This episode had a lot of secrets being unpacked, some fully out in the open, and others we simply got out first peek into. So let’s start with Maomao’s frigid relationship with her birth parents, and the full reveal that Lakan is in-fact her birth father.
Maomao’s mother lost her high status as a courtesan after she had gotten pregnant with Maomao. They didn’t dive into why Lakan hadn’t showed up all that time just yet (but they will shortly), but still made the point that for the past decade he has been trying hard at the very least to get in contact with them. However as Maomao’s mother has succumbed to syphilis, a terrible disease she came into contact with while servicing a customer during Vergiris dark days, she’s been (graciously) quarantined to the annex. And since she never got properly treated before the disease went out of control, her body has deteriated to the point she had even lost her nose (which they covered up with her hair), and her memories are in shreds. As such Lakan has no idea what has become of her.
But it was because Lakan never showed up after she got pregnant, that she directed her frustration and anger towards baby Maomao, and cut her pinky, a trauma that still haunts Maomao to this day.
As for Maomao’s case: Regardless of the Lakan’s efforts to bring her under his care, the problem is that Maomao does not reciprocate that will, and wants absolutely nothing to with him. Everyone knows that, and so they help Maomao avoid him when she can when he shows up at the Verdigris House. However it’s much more difficult to avoid him when they both work in the outter palace. Lakan has been being a nuisance to Jinshi because he had beaten him to the punch, but still makes it clear that he and Maomao will meet one way or another, and even had Jinshi serve as the messenger. But after seeing a look at could kill, Jinshi recognizes unless Maomao changes her mind, she will make sure to continue to avoid him, and reassured her he’ll turn him down on her behalf. Though if I may add as side note: They made that glare transition happen SO FAST that I couldn’t actually see it the first time. I had to rewind and slow it down to properly catch it, but yeah no wonder it spooked Jinshi, because he didn’t realize until now that she was capable of making that face, nor that he ever want to see her make it again.
Bearing that in mind, it’s an understatement as to why Maomao doesn’t perceive Lakan and her mother to be her parents, and she refuses to acknowledge them as such. Maomao likens her mother to the woman who bore her, and nothing further. The saddest part however was that this whole mess ended up warping her perspective of ‘love’, to the point she believes she isn’t capable to ‘love’ anyone, nor can she understand it, thus claims to have left it behind in the womb. However that isn’t to say she’s incapable of loving someone. While Maomao can’t identify it with herself, we the audience can see through her actions that she at the very least loves her adoptive father Luomen. She worries about him being left alone, always looking to help him maintain business because she knows that he isn’t’ not business savy as he needs to be to survive. There are also her sisters of the Verdigris House. They are a combination of motherly-sister figures, all who care for her as if she’s one of their own, and in return she cares about them dearly. There’s also granny who put up with Maomao’s mischief with her experiments! Not every place was about to put up with her blowing up a room, she probably would’ve been kicked out altogether and bared from entering apart from doing deliveries or treatment. In any case, this is Maomao’s true family. The ones who have poured their love and care for her, helping her grow up into this bright young woman she is together.
In the end, both Maomao and Jinshi ended up having something about them revealed about each other that they didn’t want the other to know. Maomao didn’t want anyone to know she is Lakan’s daughter, and Jinshi doesn’t want to see the day when Maomao learns the truth of his status. He knows the minute she does, their already fragile relationship could fall into shambles– especially since she’s of a mind of working for him rather than with him.
Although Maomao has made the efforts not to think too hard about the mysteries that shroud Jinshi, she has been slowly connecting the dots to the fact Jinshi bears an important role. She has noticed the recent preparations are for the upcoming Ritual Ceramony, one she previously thought eunchs had no part in. That means purifying his body with incense, baths and eating vegitarian meals. Additionally as of the late, there’s been more and more hints pointing Jinsh is not your typical eunch in the rear palace. And today Lakan finally called Jinshi out on being of a higher status, something he (if he had a choice) really didn’t want revealed, much less to Maomao for as long as he could help it.
This was also why when Suiren picked up on the awkwardness between Maomao and Jinshi, as well of seeing Maomao was not grounded like she usual is, she decided to have a talk with her. Suiren knows very well that Maomao is very conscious about her social standing, and how she makes the effort to not overstep her bounds, and stay humble in presence of higher class. However Suiren wanted Maomao to understand that despite their differences in status, at the root of their being, they are all the same. That’s why she sees how Maomao mayy find herslef expirencing regrets of sabatoging opportunities if she keeps herself fixed to that mindset.
And finally but not least: Suirei, goodness– this woman is suspicious as hell. She is definitely wary of Maomao considering her wealth of knowledge for plants and medicine. But she has revealed something that had Maomao immediately intrigued: She’ll working on growing a medicine resurrect someone. For that, she will soon be planting morning glories. While that certainly rings alarm bells for the rest of us watching, Maomao on the other-hand seem to completely overlook that because she’s far too interested in the very concept of medicine being able to do such a thing, and wants to know everything about it!