In more ways than one, Lu Zhen’s life is constantly in danger. She’s beset by enemies, some petty, some violent on all sides. But Lu Zhen’s nature is one that also draws people in, and they remain steadfast loyal. We get to meet one of my favorite people in this episode.
Lu Zhen meets the Dowager and the Royal Concubine. The dowager asks Lu Zhen. to raise her face and gets a shock, Lu Zhen’s. entire cheek is red and swollen. The Dowager asks what has happened and Lu Zhen stammers that because she wanted to look pretty, she put on some blush that made her face go blotchy. The Dowager is dissapointed and snarks at Lou Qing Qiang, “This is the kind of trash you bring me?” Lou Qing Qiang is visibly agitated and follows the Dowager as she storms out.
Lu Zhen turns to Royal Concubine Xiao, and begs that she not be thrown out of the palace. The doctors told her that her face will be like this for a year, and if she leaves now, she’ll never get married. Xiao, after seeing the Dowager’s embaressment, smirks and allows Lu Zhen to stay. She assigns Lu Zhen to Palace of Peace and Quiet, or what is also known as the palace of isolation (this is where high status concubines who fall out of favor and can’t be killed usually live). However, right now the only one who lives there is the Dowager Concubine.
Lu Zhen finds Teacher Yang who asks her how she turned her face like that, it’s such a pity to ruin her pretty face. Lu Zhen says that it’s only for a few days, she had lied to the Dowager and Royal Concubine. Lu Zhen tells Teacher Yang that as long as she gets to stay in the palace, she doesn’t care if she goes to the Palace of Isolation, she still has hope of becoming a Female Official.
Lu Zhen moves in and the Dowager Concubine immediately takes a liking to her smartness and sweetness. However, Lu Zhen soon learns that the true master of the Palace of Isolation is actually the two head palace maids Lu Xun and He Rei.
Lu Zhen angers He Rei because Lu Zhen read to the Dowager (He Rei’s job) when He Rei wasn’t there. He Rei bars Lu Zhen from entering the dormitory to sleep on a rainy and cold night.
Lu Zhen huddles outside and a palace maid comes and throws her a blanket. She sweetly smiles and puts a finger to her lips. Lu Zhen meets Dan Niang the next day and thanks her for the blanket. Dan Niang tells her that in this palace, only the head maids are boss, the Dowager Concubine gets bullied by them all the time. Lu Zhen genuinely feels sorry of the Dowager Concubine, who was a princess from another country that married the deceased Emperor. But there had been romours about her background, some say that she was a love child, so her status in the palace has always been shaky. Once the old Emperor died, she was relegated to the Palace of Isolation by the Dowager. While the maids seem respectful of her, they bully her into doing things their way and run around unchallenged most of the time.
At Gao Zhan’s palace, Yu Qia0, the Dowager’s Spy who fell in love with Gao Zhan and has switched sides, comes to see Gao Zhan about Lu Zhen. Gao Zhan had asked her to keep any eye on him. Yu Qian, lies to Gao Zhan and says that Lu Zhen was sent to clean the old emperor’s tomb, and won’t be back for a year. Yu Qian had previously given Gao Zhan a silk satchel and she smiles when she sees that he’s wearing it on his belt.
Gao Zhan is worried that Lu Zhen will meet trouble and tells Pan Hou (His eunuch) that he needs Yuan Lu to go there on business, and give bribes to the maids to treat Lu Zhen well. Yuan Lu smiles and teases that Gao Zhan must really really like Lu Zhen. Gao Zhan gets embaressed and gives Pan Hou a well aimed kick to the backside to send him on his way.
Lu Zhen develops a cough from spending the night outside and the two head maids kick her out to the sick bay called the Garden of Peaceful Heart.
Lu Zhen discovers that no one cares about the sick, who are infected with some kind of coughing disease. Lu Zhen sees the squalor they live and begin to clean up and give everyone herbs that she knows that have healing properties. One of the sick ladies laugh at her but Lu Zhen persists and manages to heal most of the girls. The lady turns out to be Du Si Yi, a Female Official who was in charge of the hall of records.
Meanwhile Gao Zhan gets the news that Yu Qiao has been killed by Royal Concubine Xiao. To not let the Dowager know he knows about the poison, he drinks it. When the girl leaves, he quickly throws it up.
When he visits the Emperor and mentions it, the emperor admits that he himself might have been at fault. The Emperor had noticed the satchel Yu Qiao had given to Gao Zhan and had happily and accidentally told told his wife the Royal Concubine (who holds a delusional torch for Gao Zhan) and she had beaten the girl to death. Gao Zhan blames himself for the girl’s death but moreover, now believes that he has to be even more careful in protecting Lu Zhen.
Lu Zhen reads some of the books laying around and realizes that this lady was not only smart but could help her to get out of the Garden of Peaceful Heart and back to the Palace of Isolation. Lu Zhen can’t leave without permission, and she wants to go back to a place where she has a chance to rise in the ranks of maids, since no one had the power in the Garden of Peaceful heart, she must get back to the Palace of Isolation.
Du Si Yi agrees to help Lu Zhen get back to the Isolation Palace on one condition, Lu Zhen help Du Si Yi make copies of her books. Du Si Yi’s illness had taken much toll on her and she can’t finish her books, she needs someone competent. She tests Lu Zhen on her writting and comments that she is adequate, and then tests her knowledge with an ancient saying. Lu Zhen correctly interprets the saying and they strike a deal. Lu Zhen asks why Du Si Yi doesn’t keep Lu Zhen in the Garden with her, and Du Si Yi replies that a girl like Lu Zhen, with so much ambition would not be able to stay here with patience.
The Dowager Concubine is glad that Lu Zhen came back and shows her favoritism for the two head maids to see. They are visibly jealous.
Meanwhile the Dowager Empress is in a terrible temper. Yu Qiao their spy for Gao Zhan, has been killed by the Royal Concubine Xiao. Yu Qiao as the girl who brings the poisoned medicine to Gao Zhan. The Dowager Empress laments that he has never shown interest in a girl before and it’s next to impossible to get a drop of water into his palace, let alone another spy. Lou Qing Qiang reassures her mistress that as long as Gao Zhan takes the poison, it’ll be fine.
Dan Niang is hands down one of my most favorite characters in this drama. She’s sweet, smart when she needs to be, and her goal in life is simple – to eat all the good things she can get her hands on. What I love about this character is that she is loyal to Lu Zhen from down to the bone. Dan Niang has the innocence of a girl child and is always a good friend, counsel, and comic relief when needs be. She and Yuan Lu (Gao Zhan’s enunch) has the cutest, most antagonistic friendship.