So I completely brain farted on this episode when I saw it for the first time. Now I’ve seen it again, I feel like I totally missed the cute first part. As for Lu Zhen, she makes a difficult choice that she later regrets. In the episode, the interaction between Chen Xiao and Zhao Li Ying practically sparked a fire on my new computer. Gao Zhan begins to hint at their love.
Lu Zhen is back with the Dowager Concubine, who is happy to see her and elevates her from the 4th Level maid to 3rd level maid. This pisses off the other two head maids, and the maid Lu Xu makes it clear that now she won’t be so kind to Lu Zhen.
Gao Zhan comes to visit her and sees her sighing. She smiles happily when she sees him and asks why he hasn’t visited her when she was sick. He’s shocked to know that she was sick and grabs her hand.
They walk and he takes his cloak and puts it on her. It’s such a quiet and sweet moment as he pulls it tighter for her. He told her that he was going to move her out of the palace of isolation but then realized that it might put her in the war in the harem again. Lu Zhen agrees and says that she really likes the Dowager Concubine.
Lu Xu sees Lu Zhen talking to a someone. Gao Zhan flees as the cloak falls off Lu Zhen’s shoulder. Lu Zhen lies that no one was here (it’s forbidden for palace maids to talk to men, it’s acutally an offense punishable by death). Lu Xu accuses her and tries to drag her to the inner palace affairs department ( like a justice bureau) when the Dowager Concubine comes out. She asks what’s going on and Lu Xu tells her that Lu Zhen has been meet with some bastard or another and must be hauled off. She shows the Dowager Concubine the cloak as evidence.
The Dowager Concubine doesn’t bat an eye and says that this cloak belonged to the former emperor. She had asked Lu Zhen to take it out for an airing.
Lu Xu knows that by calling the owner of the cloak a bastard, she has comitted grave offense. She’s on her knees begging for forgiveness. To make sure that Lu Zhen doesn’t get bullied anymore, the dowager concubine raises Lu Zhen from a 3rd Level Palace Maid to a 2th Level Palace Maid, only a level below Lu Xun and He Rei, and almost equal in power.
Once Lu Xu and the other girls leave, the Dowager Concubine tells Lu Zhen it’s okay for her to meet the boy. Gao Zhan had came to see the Dowager Concubine to ask her for permission, and after seeing him, the Dowager Concubine thought he was a nice boy.
Dan Niang takes Lu Zhen to her new room and bows to her. Lu Zhen, unaccustom to the kind of respect Dan Niang has shown her, begs her to treat her as before. Dan Niang shakes her head and tells Lu Zhen, in all of Dynastic history, no maid has risen has fast has she has, jumping from 4th level to 2nd in mere days. Lu Zhen bribes Dan Niang with some honey chestnut candy and Dan Niang skips off, leaving Lu Zhen in contemplation.
Over the next few weeks, Lu Zhen takes care of the Dowager Concubine and the latter begans to gradually get better and stronger. The Dowager Concubine favors Lu Zhen a lot, even giving her jewelry. He Rei (the other head maid) watches in jealousy.
He Rei prepares some medicine for the Dowager Concubine and was about to slip in some mysterious powder when Lu Xu catches her in the act. He Rei reasons that in the month or so Lu Zhen has been here, the Dowager Concubine has grown not only stronger but her old illness is fading. If the Inner palace affairs comes and asks why in the 5 or 6 years she and Lu Xu has taken care of the Dowager Concubine, she has never been better, they would get punished. The powder is only some strong almond extract powder (which The Dowager Concubine is allergic too), it’ll only make her a little bit sick. Lu Xu is convinced. After all, if the Dowager gets a little bit sick, it’ll get Lu Zhen in trouble and Lu Xun and He Rei will be back in power.
Only two days after the Dowager Concubine had the poisoned medicine, she asks after the boy who came to visit Lu Zhen, and wonders whether if she should give the decree for them to get…. Before she can finish the sentcence she falls ill and faints. Lu Zhen screams for a doctor
The Isolation palace is in crisis mode as doctors rush in, the Dowager Concubine’s illness has worsened and the He Rei is beyond losing grip on calm. Lu Xu tells her that if the Dowager Concubine dies, it’s a good thing, that means they can get out of the palace. Besides, as long as they do nothing and wait, they’ll come out of this unscathed. If the Inner Affairs asks, then they’ll just blame Lu Zhen.
Gao Zhan asks after Lu Zhen by sending his enunch Yuan Lu. But Yuan Lu comes back and tells him that Lu Zhen is so busy that he didn’t get to see her. The head maids and their group refuse to help Lu Zhen and her friends take care of the Dowager Concubine, and Lu Zhen hasn’t slept because she’s constantly by the Dowager’s side. Gao Zhan tells Yuan Lu to inform Wang Shang Yi about the situation so that she can get the maids in the Palace of Isolation in line.
The head maid Ran Niang under Wang Shang Yi comes to berate the maids. He Rei and Lu Xun takes this opportunity to bribe the head maid and ask for them to be placed in other palaces. Ran Niang scoffs and says that the Dowager Concubine from Qi Hu, a place that still upholds the tradition of killing servants so they can follow their master in the afterlife. They should prepare themselves, the Dowager Concubine might want all her maids to die with her.
Lu Xun and He Rei confirm this story by asking around the palace and finds out that this tradition is upheld by some of the upper class Qi Hu. One lady even killed all of her maids. Since the Dowager Concubine is a Qi Hu princess, she would probably do it. Lu Xun and He Rei decide that as long as the Dowager Concubine doesn’t wake up and dies without saying a word, she can’t do anything. They smile at each other evilly. They begin to rope the other maids into their plan.
That night Gao Zhan sneaks into the Palace of Isolation with Yuan Lu. Since it would look odd if Gao Zhan went into her bedroom, he asks Yuan Lu to ask her to come out, saying that his name is Gao Zhan.
Yuan Lu looks confused and says, but it’s your real name Gao… he smiles and says that Gao Zhan is still playing these kiddie games, it’s so childish of him to change his name. Gao Zhan gives him this glare and Yuan Lu hurries away.
Yuan Lu comes quietly in and sees a girl on the bed. He goes and calls her name gently. But she doesn’t wake up. He calls her name again and snarks quietly that she sleeps like a dead pig, how can his master like someone like this.
Yuan Lu smells some cookies on the bed and curiously reaches for the bowl of cookies. Dan Niang wakes up a flash and yells at the top of her lungs “PERVERT! PERVERT! YOU CAME TO STEAL MY COOKIES YOU PERV!”
Yuan Lu panics and grabs her mouth saying that he came a the behest of his highne… no! He came with Gao Zhan” Lu Zhen runs in and sees the two struggling on the bed in a compromising position.
Dan Niang runs to Lu Zhen and calls Yuan Lu a pervert. Yuan Lu grabs his cane like thing that marks him as a eunuch and Lu Zhen recognizes him as one of Gao Zhan’s people. Yuan Lu tells Dan Niang that he’s not a pervert, and besides, she doesn’t have anything to offer one either. Dan Nian shoots back that looking at his runty size, he couldn’t be a pervert either.
They head outside where Lu Zhen meets up with Gao Zhan. Dan Niang and Yuan Lu sit together, with Dan Niang strangling a bunch of flowers mutter loudly for them to die, which Yuan Lu looks at her in a mixture of horror and disgust.
Gao Zhan tells Lu Zhen not to worry about the Dowager Concubine, she’s going to recovery. Lu Zhen tells him that the Dowager Concubine really likes him when he met with her, and that the Dowager concubine told Lu Zhen that Gao Zhan is a good friend. Gao Zhan smiles and says that’s probably not all that the Dowager means. He continues to say that if anything does happen to the Dowager, Lu Zhen shouldn’t worry. He will be by her side forever and always.
Lu Zhen smiles a little. But Gao Zhan tells her that he’ll be temporarily out of the palace for a little while, she must be careful. Lu Zhen tells him to go and do what he needs to, he has to work hard to make sure that his evil stepmother can’t harm him. Gao Zhan smiles slyly and say that all men have 3 important things in life, Make Money, Become a Someone, Find A Wife. He’s already on the way to finishing the first two, perhaps it’s time to work on the third. Lu Zhen gets a little embarrassed and pushes him away (smiling).
Gao Zhang and Yuan Lu leave as Dan Niang observes that this must be the man that Lu Zhen likes. As they talk, a group of maids, headed by He Rei and Lu Xun walk by with the leftovers of the Dowager Concubine’s medicine, and are about to throw it away. Lu Zhen tells the that it’s forbidden and realizes that the head maids are behind the poisoning.
Lu Zhen and Dan Niang are kidnapped by the maids and told the truth, that if the Dowager Concubine wakes up, she’ll most likely order the deaths of all her maids. The maids plead with Lu Zhen to let them carry out their plan to keep the dowager asleep until her death. Lu Zhen might like the Dowager Concubine but that’s no reason to condemn them all to death. Lu Zhen doesn’t know what to do, but decides not to tell on them, and storms out with Dan Niang.
Dan Niang is crying and tells Lu Zhen that she doesn’t want to die, there are so many good things she hasn’t eaten yet. Also why did Lu Xu and He Rei not kill Lu Zhen and Dan Niang? Lu Zhen tells Dan Niang it’s because it would look too suspicous with the Dowager so sick. Lu Zhen goes to seek the advice of her teacher who she met when she was sick, Du Si Yi.
Du Si Yi isn’t fazed by the deliemma and tells Lu Zhen to Calm Down. The two head maids will most likely get blamed if the dowager dies and Lu Zhen will most likely escape punishment. If Lu Zhen really does die, then as someone who has done good in the palace, she will be granted any kind of favor after her death. Lu Zhen is shocked that she should let the Dowager Concubine die like this, to be poisoned by her maids, the Dowager Concubine is a good person. Du Si Yi says that there is no such thing as a good person in the palace. Lu Zhen, if she wants to survive, and keep all the maids alive, must let the poisoning happen.
Lu Zhen spends the night in tears and remorse as the maids carry out their plan. The next day the head maid Ran Niang barks how come the Dowager Concubine, who was getting better, is suddenly near death? The doctor, who is in on it, tells that it happens and that the Dowager has three to five days to live.
He Rei suddenly comes up with the idea of inviting priests of the Dowager Concubine’s tribe/ people to perform and excorcism. Maybe it’ll help suddenly turn everything around. Everyone looks at her suspicously, and the head maid Ran Niang gets permission from the Royal Concubine.
I don’t know if they meant this to be funny as they did, because it was so hilarious that either the director went on a psychedelic trip or they really thought the audience would buy it (in that case they must have been smoking some) But as the priests run around like headless chickens and breath fire, He Rei says that there is an ancient tradition that they should try.
She says that, if the mistress drinks the soup made from the flesh of her most beloved servant, then she will heal. Not just any part of the body, but directly above the heart. Lu Zhen realizes that this was how they mean to kill her. She struggles and maids grab her. He Rei asks Lu Zhen what’s the matter? Isn’t she the Dowager Countess’s most beloved? Shouldn’t she be glad to give some flesh for her mistress. The dagger descends as someone calls “STOP”
La Mei, the head maid of Luo Qing Qing comes just before He Rei kills Lu Zhen. La Mei asks what kind of insanity was this? She turns on Ran Niang and asks if she will be responsible if there is death in the palace? He Rei tries to explain but La Mei slaps her across the face, telling her that if she’s so desperate for the Dowager Concubine to heal, then she should cut out a piece of flesh from her own body. He Rei looks at La Mei in horror, and La Mei asks whats the matter? He Rei must be so loyal that she wouldn’t mind doing this for her mistress. Wouldn’t she be glad to perform such a sacrafice? Essentially throwing words that He Rei says earlier to Lu zhen back in her face. He Rei is given the choice of cuting it out herself or having somone else do it. He Rei cuts out the flesh with Lu Xu’s help.
Lu Xun is ordered to take the flesh and make soup for the Dowager Concubine, and she walks away traumatized to the core.
He Rei begs to be let out of the palace, having sacraficed her flesh, so she can go heal. La Mei smirks and says that He Rei must be punished, and they drag her away, with her screaming for her life and mercy.
Wang Shang Yi and her maid La Mei discuss the events in the Palace of Isolation. La Mei observes that although it isn’t like the rest of the palace, there are still about 100 people there that could under the control of the Dowager Empress. Wang Shang Yi tells her to observe it closely, for some reason, doctors, royal concubine’s head maids have all converged it there. If the Royal Concubine and the Dowager Concubine get together, then it might mean more power for Gao Zhan. Wang Shang Yi then muses, that the Emperor must be crazy, he gave the control of the Revenue to Gao Zhan instead of Wang Shang Yi’s uncle.
Speaking of Gao Zhan, as he pours over the accounts of the Revenue and treasury, he observes that Luo Guo Jiu (Wang Shang Yi’s uncle) has basically emptied out the treasury. He asks his guard how Dowager Concubine is and is told that the she’s much better. Gao Zhan smiles and says that “she” will also be able to sleep as well.
The Dowager Concubine finally wakes up and Lu Zhen is there taking care of her. Dan Niang tells her that Lu Zhen hasn’t left her side for days. Dowager Concubine tells her that she knows she will die soon, all she worries about is Lu Zhen.
Lu Xu is in her bed, shivering and crying, she’s scared witless by the death of He Rei. She overhears that now the Dowager Concubine awaken, someone will pay.
Lu Xu remembers that she has something in her possession that might save her life.
I think that Yu Zheng follows a certain cycle with his dramas. The good gets power and the evil pay in blood. I know that it’s a thing with all dramas, but in his the distinction is so clear that sometimes I just roll my eyes or click fast foward. But I liked that Lu Zhen has to make some realizstic choices in this episode. If faced with the death of all the maids in the Isolation palace, including herself, what would she do? She’s only 17 right now and fear has certainly played a hand in her actions. The romance is also moving forward and one thing I LOVE about Chen Xiao’s acting is that his facial expressions are so versatile. His reaction is so genuine and his smile is infectious that it would melt certainly the most cantankerous hearts (like mine). Every time he looks at the girl, there’s stars in his eyes and it’s clear that he’s starting to deeply fall for her. Dan Niang and Yuan Hou are like the anti-romancers, they’re first meeting is made even funnier by Dan Niang calling him a pervert who came to steal her cookies, which made no sense to anyone but her.
Overall I have to say that the two leads brought the episode together. I more or less couldn’t care what happens to Lu Xun.
Let me know what you think!