Before I sat down and watched these 8 episodes all the way through (rather than just skimming through), I thought that they would be really draggy and boring, because it’s more about events that happen outside of the Forbidden City. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are more interesting than I thought they would be, and it’s a nice change of pace for once. It turns out that the nunnery/17th story arc was not all that bad, although I did find myself wanting to get back to the Inner Palace.
“Then who am I to you?”
Even if you don’t want to watch through the nun story and the love story with 17th, at least watch all of episode 45, and the beginning scenes of episode 46. Episode 45 is when Zhen Huan gets her heart broken all over again. She finds the emperor’s freaking love note to his deceased Empress Chun Yuan. It says that he has someone that looks like the Empress, but she will never be the real thing. Zhen Huan reads it OUT LOUD in disbelief, and you can just hear the pain and disbelief in her voice. I think the line “who am I to you?” pretty much says it all. She loved the emperor for who he was, but what did the emperor love her for? And was it even love? Anyways, I have to hand it to Sun Li, this scene was by far one of my favorites. From her heart-wrenching reaction to the emperor’s ‘betrayal,’ to the end of the scene when she desperately grabs the emperor’s foot and begs for her father even though she despises the emperor…Sun Li nailed it.
“Do you think we can go back to the past?”
Of course, the emperor does the same old same old, offering to treat Zhen Huan the same as long as they sweep this whole ordeal under the rug. Yeah right! I really don’t understand why the emperor thinks Zhen Huan would even want to see him anymore. Anyways, Zhen Huan doesn’t put up with his crap anymore and leaves the palace to become a nun at a temple. The problem with this is that in becoming a nun, she must leave behind her new-born daughter. I thought Zhen Huan would let Mei Zhuang take care of her daughter, but instead she chooses Jing Fei. I suppose this is a smarter move because Jing Fei has a much more stable reputation and is fit for raising a child.
Anyways, I’m not gonna talk a lot about Zhen Huan’s time at the temple, but let’s just say that she had both a peaceful and miserable life there. My main interest in the nun arc was that it is really the only glimpse we get of the outside world (aside from….episode 1 O_O).
Mei Zhuang supports Zhen Huan. She even moves into Zhen Huan’s old palace so that she can protect it and keep things in order. And, yet again, she is the impetus for Zhen Huan to make amends with the emperor and reenter the palace later on. One of the most touching scenes is when the Empress and her entourage humiliate Zhen Huan at the temple, and then Mei Zhuang speaks up for her and kneels beside her yet again. (flashback to the scene when Mei Zhuang spoke up against Hua Fei for Zhen Huan’s sake? Anyone?) I love the moment when the rest of the concubines leave, and then Zhen Huan & Mei Zhuang look at each other and smile; they are just happy to be together no matter what the circumstances.
On to the love story with 17th! Like one of my commenters mentioned, Zhen Huan’s time with 17th is probably the happiest time of her life. She is finally able to trust and love someone once again. It’s great to see Zhen Huan so lively and coy whenever she’s with 17th…and also a bit sad since we all know their time together won’t last. The problem is that their love story feels a bit out of place since it’s very ideal (despite the tragic ending to it).
And I have to say, I feel incredibly bad for Dr. Wen & Huan Bi. As we all know, Dr. Wen has been hankering for Zhen Huan ALL THIS TIME. Although I don’t think Dr. Wen is right for Zhen Huan, it must’ve really hurt to see her in love with another man while still expecting him to take care of her health. And of course he can’t respond to Zhen Huan’s all too logical claim that if he really loves her, then he wants her to be happy…RIGHT?
As for Huan Bi, she just gets struck again and again with the reminder of “you will never attain what Zhen Huan has”. I feel bad for her because Zhen Huan knows fully well about her feelings for 17th, and yet she still goes right ahead and gets involved with him. All Huan Bi can do is gaze at him afar while knowing that her best friend is the one he loves, not her.
17th prince kinda freaks me out because he’s almost too perfect. He’s such a prince charming that every single woman falls at his feet in a heartbeat. One of them being, the new character Lan Ye (or Lan Yi, not sure), a free-spirited and strong-willed horse-trainer who becomes Promise Ye. She also has an unrequited love for 17th but unluckily gets randomly chosen by the emperor to enter the harem. I love her character because she hates the emperor and has no regard for the rules of the palace. Later on she will become a high-ranking concubine so I’m looking forward to the rest of her scenes!
“Only I can be Empress.”
And of course, no episode is complete without the Empress & co.’s scheming. The Empress is WAY smarter and bolder than I ever thought she was. It turns out that she killed Empress Chun Yuan, attempted to kill one of the princes, and forced 3rd Prince’s mom’s death. And that’s just the beginning of the list. The even more outrageous part is that the Empress Dowager KNOWS IT ALL. She knows EVERY MOVE of the concubines, and the empress included. Unfortunately she will do nothing to stop the chaos.
Lastly, somehow Ling Rong is getting prettier and prettier, as she goes further and further to the dark side. (In the most recent news, she caused Zhen Huan to give birth early.) I love her newest headpieces and pinkish peach gowns. Although I’m still divided over her character, it is kinda awesome seeing her hold a flower while plotting Zhen Huan’s doom. (ok that sounded kinda weird..but there’s this once scene when she’s holding a flower while giving ominous orders to her minion.) I am just waiting for her to smack down the arrogant Qi Pin, who looks down on her because of her status. Whenever Qi Pin insults Ling Rong for being lowly, I’m just like, OMG YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU’RE MESSING WITH.
Oh, I forgot to mention that 17th goes MIA and is assumed dead, which then allows Zhen Huan to go on Mission: Recapture Emperor’s Heart. I’m looking forward to seeing Zhen Huan reenter the palace. Things are getting much more interesting now that the Empress is a full-on baddie, and that Lan Yi (the horse trainer) has come into the picture.