As promised, here are the rest of the recaps I’ve done so far. I LOVED 11-20, there was so much goodness in these episodes. I’ve linked the mini-recaps to my larger ones. Let me know what you think!
Lu Zhen and the maids gather to receive an edict from a Lady Official. They are given poison wine which Lu Zhen and Dan Niang alone do not drink, because they realize it is poisoned. They’re locked in the room as it burns and Gao Zhan hears about it. He runs to the palace of Isolation and jumps into the burning building, carrying Lu Zhen out while getting injured. Dan Niang, who also escaped, learns of Gao Zhan’s true Identity as the Crown Prince. She and Yuan Lu, Gao Zhan’s eunuch develop a rapport and she promises not to tell Lu Zhen who Gao Zhan is. Gao Zhan also warns the Emperor not to talk about Lu Zhen or tell Lu Zhen who Gao Zhan is. Lu Zhen wakes up with no recollection of the events, but is allowed a day out of the palace to rest and relax.
Lu Zhen is spotted by a guard who recognizes her as a wanted felon. However, Gao Zhan is also out and about outside the palace and they have a very cute date where they hold hands and shop together. The guard realizes that Lu Zhen is a palace maid when Lu Zhen enters the palace. He goes to a minister of the law, who happens to be Shen Bi’s father, and Shen Bi is estatic that she can take down Lu Zhen. However, when Shen Bi accuses Lu Zhen of being the wanted felon, Dan Niang is able to produce Lu Zhen’s ID which shows that she is someone else. Shen Bi is punished while Lu Zhen has a suspicion that it’s Gao Zhan who has helped her out. He meets her secretly and they have a very cute interlude. Lu Zhen, thinking that Gao Zhan is a palace guard for the Crown Prince, gives him a ring that the Dowager Concubine had asked her to give to the crown prince on her behalf. This ring signifies military power from foreign countries. The dowager Concubine knew that the Dowager Empress was her murderer and wants Gao Zhan to avenge her death.
Lu Zhen and Gao Zhan flirt some more and she happily agrees to call him by a cute nickname. However, Lu Zhen is also getting ready to take the Lady Official’s test, which will allow her to be elevated from 1st rank maid to 9th Rank Lady official. Lu Zhen’s goal is to get to 6th level Lady Official, to which she can reopen the case of her dead father and avenge him. Lu Zhen is under the tutelage of Du Si Yi who realizes that Lu Zhen is in love with some boy. Lu Zhen makes a belt for Gao Zhan. She meets the Emperor and asks the Emperor to set up a meeting between her and Gao Zhan. At the meeting she trys to give him the belt. Gao Zhan sees that a spy is listening to their conversation and cruelly refuses, worried that she might die because he loves her. Heartbroken, Lu Zhen drinks away her sorrows. Gao Zhan, meanwhile learns the tradition he did not know about behind the belt. When a girl gives a belt to a man, it means that she likes him and wants to spend life together with him. Knowing that she’s about to take the test, Gao Zhan chooses to stay away, instead of explain the situation.
Lu Zhen is late to the test due to her drunken rejection last night and Wang Shang Yi does not let her take the first part. Lu Zhen and Wang Shang Yi has a bet, if Lu Zhen doesn’t get first place on the second part, then Lu Zhen will never be allowed to take the test and has to become a 3rd level maid for the rest of her life. Lu Zhen thinks of what she’ll make for the skills section and decides to make a 7 treasure necklace. However, Shen Bi, who was asked to get all the materials in order for the test, sabotages Lu Zhen’s string and Lu Zhen breaks one of the treasures. Lu Zhen goes to Master Zhu, who she met once, the head of the Objects department, and asks if she can use his kiln, she is a potter’s daughter and she will make a Guan Yin vase, with a green glaze. She uses some of pottery powder she found under a tree and is able to produce the first ever White Ceramic. Wang Shang Yi however declares that she cannot win as Lu Zhen did not make what she said she would make. Lou Qing Qiang is outraged, and Master Zhu comes to Lu Zhen’s defense, just then, the Emperor calls all of them to his palace in regards to this matter.
Lu Zhen is ordered to recreate her pottery, if she can do it then she will be elevated to the 8th rank Lady Official. Lu Zhen does this after she fights with Gao Zhan (who tries to apologize) and is ordered to be in charge of Si Yi Si, the department of treasures. She meets Ling Long a head maid who makes trouble for her when Lu Zhen goes through the accounts. But, through hard work, leadership and incentives, Lu Zhen is able to win the maids over. Du Si Yi comes and offers Lu Zhen a chance to become a Lady Official powerful enough to hold court with the men.
Due to Lu Zhen’s diligience of going over the accounts, only she and her department survived the internal audit initiated by Wang Shang Yi. Lu Zhen and Gao Zhan make up and Lu Zhen gives Gao Zhan a white tiger statute. Gao Zhan shows Lu Zhen that he’s being wearing her belt all along. Lu Zhen asks Gao Zhan to not lie to her or if he does, to give her a signal. He almost tells her the truth about himself. The emperor meets with Lu Zhen and the Royal Concubine is enraged that Lu Zhen is the only one meeting with her husband, she nearly kills Lu Zhen, who the emperor saves by putting his life on the line.
Lu Zhen enters the palace wars by helping the Dowager Empress overshadow the Royal Concubine at the Sacrafice ceremony. The Royal Concubine is enraged that Lu Zhen has the smarts to do that. Wang Shang Yi suggests that instead of angering the Emperor, they kill her off sneakily.
Episode 18 (FAVORITE EPISODE SO FAR)
Under the guise that Lu Zhen has commited a grave palace offense, she is ordered to kneel for 12 hours. Lu Zhen faints and while Dan Niang can’t find Gao Zhan, he finds her by accident. He rushes to get her to his palace and in his burning rage, he crashes the private baquet the Royal Concubine is giving the Emperor. He Scares the Royal Concubine witless with his rage and love for Lu Zhen and she is left wonder what is she to him. (Royal Concubine has long loved Gao Zhan). Gao Zhan nurses Lu Zhen back to health but puts a gag order on his palace so that no one knows she is there, nor are the allowed to reveal who he is to her.
Royal concubine reminisces about the past, where she was sent to live as Gao Zhan’s fiance, and how they grew up together, very much in love. Gao Yan (the current emperor) was always in Gao Zhan’s shadow. Lu Zhen wakes up and wanders around the palace. She thinks that Gao Zhan the guard has saved her but when she meets Wang Shang Yi, she reveals to Lu Zhen that Gao Zhan is actually the Crown Prince. Gao Zhan confirms this to Lu Zhen who, heartbroken, asks that they break up. She cannot be with him and he is devastated by her rejection. Gao Zhan decides to leave the palace for a while.
This is a backstory episode. It shows how the Royal Concubine became the royal concubine and why she doesn’t marry Gao Zhan. She marries Gao Yan to save her home country, even though she does not love him. Gao Zhan rushes back to the palace as his mother the empress dies, warning him not to fight Gao Yan for the Royal Concubine. In the present, Gao Zhan makes it clear to the Royal Concubine that they only have polite relations, they can’t love each other.