The Legend of Zhen Huan: Eps 18-21
Things slowed down a bit in ep21, but eps 18-20 were AWESOME.
How awesome was this particular scheme of Zhen Huan’s??? This is probably my favorite one yet because it caught Hua Fei in the wrong without ruining her completely. Zhen Huan does not KO her opponents the way Hua Fei does (i.e. Hua Fei pretty much obliterated Mei Zhuang) because 1) she doesn’t have enough power 2) she needs to preserve her own power and not overstep her boundaries. I find it interesting that the emperor doesn’t favor Hua Fei as much, (because of Zhen Huan) but she still has enough influence in the Inner Palace to keep everyone else in check. Even though Hua Fei isn’t at the very top right now, all of the other concubines know better than to side with the newbie Zhen Huan.
It was also awesome to see the Pin of Respects joining in on Zhen Huan’s plans. She isn’t necessarily in Zhen Huan’s inner circle, but you could call her a cautious ally just like the Princess of Modesty. It’s been revealed that the Pin of Respects is actually highly regarded by the emperor because she rarely engages in any power struggles. I really want to find out the Pin of Respects’ past because I have no idea how she survived without getting caught up in anyone’s schemes.
Huan Bi’s character arc is also quite compelling. There have been hints along the way that she already knows she is an illegitimate child and therefore the half-sister of Zhen Huan. SHE KNOWS that all of this is unfair–she’s also her father’s daughter, and yet because she’s illegitimate, Huan Bi will forever be bound to her servant status. Goodness knows how in the world she managed to keep any feelings of jealousy or envy at bay for so long. It’s pretty easy to follow her train of thought…Why can Zhen Huan enter the palace, earn the Emperor’s favor, blah blah blah, but she can’t? Concubine Yu raised from her servant status, so why can’t she?
I sympathized with Huan Bi because I felt bad that she can never attain the same “glory” Zhen Huan has. She wants so much to bring honor to her family name and yet she’s stuck in her circumstances. But at the same time, like Zhen Huan points out, Huan Bi is also lucky in a way because she doesn’t have to face the heat in the Inner Palace. Instead she could have the option to marry a good man and live happily. Emphasis on the COULD…
“Holding me in his palm, but abandoning and mistrusting me. The emperor, he is so heartless and fickle.”
I feel horrible for Mei Zhuang’s plight but after this conversation I can’t help but feel that maybe it was all for the better. Mei Zhuang found out the hard way that the emperor isn’t sincere or loyal at all–he plain doesn’t care about the concubines and will readily dispose of them if something goes wrong. I guess it’s better for her to find out early than to be strung along for years and then have everything come crashing down. (yes I say this in reference to Zhen Huan’s fate..)
Anyways I love Mei Zhuang’s lines in this scene because they pretty much say it all about the emperor’s heartlessness. You can just feel her hurt & distrust towards the emperor now that she knows he’s not what she thought he was. Of course Zhen Huan thinks otherwise because she’s having a wonderful romance with the emperor, but Mei Zhuang’s words clearly have an influence on her.
“What if it’s favor, but not love?”
Zhen Huan begins to question whether her relationship with the emperor is really a romance or not. Is she being loved or favored? To me the answer is favored, but of course she takes the emperor’s word that it’s love. I really wonder just what the emperor is really thinking. If he claims to “love” Zhen Huan, then does he also love the rest of his concubines? What about Hua Fei, whom he FAVORED for so long but now he won’t even visit her often? I am really confused by the emperor because his heart changes in an instant and there’s really no predicting it.
Ok was I the only one wondering what in the world the emperor was thinking when he decided to consummate his marriage with the super young concubine??? (the one that always hangs out with Zhen Huan) He talked to her like she was still a kid (uh, BECAUSE SHE IS) and they seemed like they could have a sort of uncle-niece relationship…but then he decides, gee this is the right time to make things official! I get that there’s supposed to be an age difference in that time period but…..I just don’t get what the emperor was thinking.