The Legend of Zhen Huan: Eps 70-72
Finally it is time for Zhen Huan & Co. to move on to the final opponent: the Empress!!!! Considering how the Empress is the final ‘stage’ of Zhen Huan’s takeover, and how the empress is one of the most cunning enemies of all in the harem, I thought her downfall would be much more complex. I was expecting something super epic but unfortunately it paled in comparison to Hua Fei’s and even Ling Rong’s endings. I guess part of why the empress is so easily brought down is that her defenses have already been slowly crumbling over time. Although the empress is K.O.’d in what seems to be one swoop, it is in fact the culmination of many prior events which weakened her position beforehand. But even with this in mind, I still felt dissatisfied with her downfall.
Zhen Huan & Co. make their move by framing the empress for Zhen Huan’s planned miscarriage. Yup, yet another miscarriage scheme. T_T Especially after Ling Rong’s whole ordeal, the miscarriage tactic is getting old. Zhen Huan confronts the empress when the two of them are alone in a room, while the emperor and the rest of the concubines are waiting outside. Hmm, well I guess it’s nice to see Zhen Huan calling out the empress on all her wrongdoings right in front of her face, but of course we know that usually that doesn’t really accomplish anything. Then Zhen Huan purposely falls against a table and blames her resulting miscarriage on the empress. (I think Zhen Huan took some sort of medicine right before this confrontation to make the miscarriage happen more easily.) Jing Fei’s daughter backs up the claim by lying that she witnessed the empress pushing Zhen Huan. Of course this results in the empress’ utter humiliation in front of the entire harem.
Ugh, I was cringing throughout this entire scene because it all felt so contrived and forced. O_O Everyone was overacting, so much so that things started getting more and more ridiculous especially when Jing Fei and Zhen Huan started turning on the waterworks. I mean, how did the emperor not catch on that something was incredibly fishy here?
But don’t worry, to make up for that cringe-worthy scene, the empress has the best scene ever. It is even the best scene for the emperor as well! Well I was watching with the sucky subs so I probably missed some of the true beauty in the translations…but this scene is still so incredibly moving and emotional that it is now one of my favorites. I love how the emperor and the empress actually have a candid talk with no formalities or false pretenses…it is just the two of them, finally honestly talking about the past for the first time.
Emperor: “Why don’t you hate me?”
Empress: “Do you think I didn’t want to? I wanted to hate you so much. But I just can’t do it. I just can’t do it.”
The emperor finds out about all of the empress’ crimes, including how she murdered Empress Chun Yuan. He confronts her about them all in a very calm and collected way, but eventually he becomes more and more emotionally affected by his anger and his grief over Chun Yuan’s death. This is one of the few scenes where the emperor actually shows his emotional side and his capacity to love someone else. Anyways the empress’ response is so heartbreaking, I cannot help but sympathize with her. She talks about how her son, who was supposed to be the Crown Prince, died of a fever. She carried her son alone in the rain, wishing she could’ve taken his place. But the emperor didn’t care at the time because her sister (Empress Chun Yuan) was pregnant. The empress was forgotten, her son was forgotten. In her view, she took her rightful place as the empress because technically she was the first one to bear a son. Ah, now I see why the empress is so determined to keep her status as the empress.
I can’t really pick out a favorite moment in this scene but I really like the part where the emperor asks the empress why she didn’t hate him instead of Chun Yuan. She tearfully says that she wanted to, but she couldn’t. She loved him so much, that she just couldn’t. Part of me wonders if the emperor even fully comprehends what the empress is saying. He has a great love for Chun Yuan, but can he really comprehend the immense and flawed love that the empress has for him? My other favorite part is when the empress asks the emperor if he really thinks that Zhen Huan loves him. (Answer: Zhen Huan doesn’t love him no more!) OUCH. This question also hints that maybe it is time that the emperor asks himself this question as well.
In the end, the empress still escapes the full brunt of the emperor’s intended punishment, thanks to the empress dowager who wrote an order saying that the emperor must pardon the empress. However the empress still suffers because the emperor will never see her again as long as she lives. Although she still has the title of ’empress,’ she no longer has any power nor does she have a place in the emperor’s heart. What the empress did to the many children of the other concubines is unforgivable, but I still think she is a really sad and pitiful character. She is the one who knows all too well about the cruelty and the cold-heartedness of the emperor, and yet she loves him with all her heart. Many of the other concubines realized the true nature of the emperor and then fell out of love with him, (Mei Zhuang, Zhen Huan) but not the empress.
Usually I view the empress & the emperor pairing as a couple that is together out of necessity. Whenever these two are together, it seems like they have the mutual understanding that they have the duty to fulfill their responsibilities as emperor/empress, but it doesn’t go beyond that. There may be companionship and mutual respect but there is no romantic love. But now I realize that the empress views their relationship differently; she serves the emperor out of love and not just to fulfill her duty. Part of what makes the empress so interesting though, is her fascination with being empress. Is it only because of her grudge against Empress Chun Yuan? Is it because of her desire for prestige (she grew up in a lower ranked family)? Or is it because this is the only way she can get some of the emperor’s favor? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these, but I wonder what her exact motivations are.
There is not much development in Zhen Huan’s story, except that now she is finally going to have to fight the emperor. You know how usually in period c-dramas, the emperors are often dumb and easily manipulated? You know how usually you wish that the emperor would man up and get a clue about what’s really going on? Well, here is the one time where you will probably wish otherwise. The emperor is freaking smart!!!!!! He knows what’s going on and he’s catching on to the affair between 17th & Zhen Huan!!!!!!!!! OMGGGGGGGGGGGGG. And he even has a secret agent (I kid you not, he’s a SECRET AGENT) spying on Zhen Huan!!! The emperor is really gonna make you wish that he was not this smart because now there is no turning back. Things are gonna get bad!
^bottom right pic: Interesting how the two concubines to the right are using red handkerchiefs, it’s a nice flash of color.
Lastly let’s talk about some of the beautiful clothes! I love the empress’ final outfit because it is a really stunning color and it suits her really well. It is like a really dark plum color (almost looks like grey or black in some shots) along with a pink and red trim. Usually I don’t like the empress’ color combinations that she wears, but this one is just beautiful. As for Zhen Huan, I like her light pink vest with a checkered pattern and flowers on it. There is a nice contrast between the checkered pattern and the soft pink flowers. Also for Jing Fei, I like her light pink vest as well. It is a different shade of pink from Zhen Huan’s but it really suits Jing Fei’s skin tone and her gentle composure.
Now it’s time for the final stretch. The next story arc is actually one of my least favorites but I will leave that to talk about in my next post!
And this is kinda irrelevant to these few episodes but…I found this really good MV for Hua Fei!! I really miss her! >_<