The Legend of Zhen Huan: Ep 76 (Finale)
It’s finally here, the final episode. I know I’ve delayed writing this review for a REALLY long time after I finished episode 76. I just could not summon the strength to write up the final review for what is perhaps one of my most favorite dramas of all time. There are so many feelings I have attached to this ending that it is hard to put it into words. And it didn’t really help when, after writing a bit about each scene from ep76 I would just HAVE to go back and rewatch all the good scenes over and over again. T_T” Well, we’ve already seen the endings of many other major characters that will always stick with me–Hua Fei, Mei Zhuang..even Ling Rong. But what about Zhen Huan’s ending?
Well, the first 15 minutes or so is for sure the best part of this entire episode. I was basically holding my breath throughout this entire scene. Zhen Huan ‘takes care’ of the emperor on his death bed and this is when crap goes down. Omg. This is probably the most direct and raw conversation that Zhen Huan and the emperor have ever had. There are no more pretenses, no secrets and finally Zhen Huan can tell the emperor the truth about how much she hates him. It starts out a bit ambiguous as both of them are reading between the lines, but it quickly turns into a very grim exchange.
Emperor: “I own everything under the sun, but it will be yours soon.”
Zhen Huan: “Why would I want everything in the world? I never got what I really wanted.”
Emperor: “My whole life, I’ve gotten all I’ve ever wanted. But just like quicksand, it has all vanished. Huan Huan, it’s been a while since you’ve called me Fourth Prince. Call me that again, okay?” -Translation Credit: Viki channel
URGHHHH. The thing that’s sad about this is that both the emperor and Zhen Huan have obtained the most power of all and yet they both are unhappy. They both haven’t gotten what they really wanted since they lost all the people they loved, and with their great power it is hard for them to ever trust another person since they must be suspicious of everyone. I find it really bittersweet when the emperor asks Zhen Huan to call him Fourth Prince (notice he uses her nickname) one last time…he who has everything in the world only has that one request. It’s no secret that I don’t like the emperor and, most of the time, I cannot empathize with him but this is that one moment in the scene when I felt something for him. Because I saw him as a person who just couldn’t let go of his past.
“Call me Fourth Prince one last time. Just like when you first entered the palace.”
In many of my reviews about the previous episodes, I’ve speculated over and over again over this one question “Does the emperor love Zhen Huan for who she is, and not for who she resembles? Is the emperor using Zhen Huan as a replacement for Chun Yuan?” In this last scene, I think I can finally say once and for all that the emperor really did fall for Zhen Huan back in the day……yes, his love for her was flawed; there is no denying that he projected Empress Chun Yuan onto Zhen Huan, failed her in so many ways, and broke her heart countless numbers of times. But there is something about the quote above “Just like when you first entered the palace” that struck me–the emperor is still dwelling on the way Zhen Huan was in the past–pure, innocent, lively and unaffected by the politics of the harem. He’s still remembering the ‘ideal’ Zhen Huan that he knew in the past, the one he fell in love with. Just as he is always chasing his memory of Empress Chun Yuan, he is still stuck on his memory of who Zhen Huan was in the past. But I guess you could kinda discredit my very romanticist interpretation by pointing out that very quickly the emperor switches to “I WILL KILL YOUUU!!!” after she spills the beans about Mei Zhuang’s illegitimate child. >__>
I find it interesting that Zhen Huan excuses herself right before the emperor repeats his request to call him 4th Prince. But once he says those words she decides to confront him. Did she plan on leaving him to die alone? But then the emperor’s words struck a chord in her so she stayed behind to tell him the truth & to personally exact her revenge?
ZH: “The old Zhen Huan is already dead. Your highness, did you forget? You killed her with your bare hands. My name is Niuhulu Zhen Huan.”
One thing this scene makes clearer than ever is how much Zhen Huan has changed since she entered the palace. We have always seen Zhen Huan as the heroine and protagonist, someone who was easy to root for and sympathize with. But the lines have blurred continually between good and bad, the heroine and the enemies. Remember back in the way way beginning when Zhen Huan totally freaked out after she saw a maid’s corpse in a well? Well now she can order someone’s death without batting an eye. Yes, Zhen Huan is defending her position in the harem, but what I’m trying to say is that we can’t always view Zhen Huan in a totally positive light just because she is the heroine. She has done questionable things, she has compromised her initial moral principles, and she has become merciless and unrelenting when it comes to eliminating all competition. Her power came with a price and perhaps that price was her innocence.
So no matter how much I dislike the emperor I don’t think he deserved an excruciating death. There is this one line where Zhen Huan tells the emperor that what she’s doing is nothing in comparison to what he has done. This is when we get a deeper insight into Zhen Huan’s reasoning, how she justifies his murder with the flawed belief that this is all relative. With her reasoning, the emperor has done way worse than her so it’s not THAT bad to kill him.
And this is really random but……one thing that kinda irked me throughout this whole scene……is that we always see the emperor from the same angle. Come on, at least give us a side view or something so we don’t have to look up his nose the whole time! T___T
“Fourth Prince, on that idyllic afternoon many years ago, you told me you were Duke Guo. It was probably all a mistake from the beginning.”
So, the emperor dies. I love the way Zhen Huan reacts to his death, very little is said and yet we can see a whole range of emotions that she is going through. There is no freaking out over his death, no evilly laughing and proclaiming “SEE 17TH? I AVENGED YOUR DEATH!”, no suddenly trying to wash her hands repeatedly from the invisible blood, no long speech of “omg what have I done”. Thank goodness there is none of that.
Zhen Huan’s reaction is so understated and yet SO GOOD. OMGGGGGGGGGGGGG. I guess the best word to describe her reaction is “numb”. She is cautious at first, wanting to confirm whether he is really dead. And once she knows he’s dead, her final words to him are so bittersweet…I think it shows how she did not just kill the guy she hated most, she didn’t just avenge her lover’s death..she killed the man that she used to love and the man she used to devote her life to. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the part when she steps out into the empty room and proclaims over and over again that the emperor is dead as her eyes well up with tears. HOLD ON I’M GONNA GO WATCH THAT PART AGAIN..
I think the tears that Zhen Huan shed right after the emperor’s death were genuine, but during his funeral she is only fake-crying just like most of the other concubines are. Anywhoo Zhen Huan is now empress dowager with her 4th prince succeeding the throne. Now that the emperor is gone and Zhen Huan is boss, Zhen Huan & Co. are all LA LA LA LIFE IS GOOD! And surprisingly, Duan Fei is MIA because she is too grief-stricken over the emperor’s death! So instead Xin Fei (I can’t remember her rank..middle right pic) is now officially part of Zhen Huan & Co. I was not expecting her character to end up on top at all but I guess that shows that it was possible for her to stay out of harem politics while eventually benefiting in the end.
Too bad Ning Pin commits suicide because I really liked her character. :'( I thought she could’ve lived on..I mean maybe she wouldn’t be able to leave the palace but I’m sure she could’ve done as she pleased with Zhen Huan on her side. But I think she might’ve committed suicide so that there wouldn’t be anymore evidence about the emperor’s murder?
There is one final scene with the empress and Zhen Huan. I guess this scene was necessary because we had to see the two empresses together one last time, eh? Well this is supposed to be a major scene but I think my understanding of it was not too great because of the lackluster translations. Please tell me what I missed or if I’m wrong because this scene is kinda murky for me. From what I gathered it was basically showing how the empress is still obsessing over her rightful title as empress and how Zhen Huan ruined her life. And Zhen Huan gets the final revenge on the empress by removing her title from the records or something. The lasting impression I have of the empress is when she is ironically repeating “Empress” to herself as though she is finally realizing that the title is all meaningless.
Zhen Huan has one last costume change as empress and omg, her new headpiece is so gorgeous! As you can see I took many screenshots of it since it is the very last one!!!!!!! I like it because it’s very refined and regal yet also not too flashy. One thing I love about the ending is that Zhen Huan does not have an obligatory ending monologue, there is no attempt to preach life lessons or have a super memorable quote or anything like that. Our view into her mindset is now limited because the people she used to confide in (Mei Zhuang, 17th) are now gone. Zhen Huan is all alone despite having her allies, Jin Xi, and her children by her side. Love the part where she sheds a single tear and then smiles, again such an understated detail but very powerful.
“Jin Xi, I’m tired.”
Don’t have much to say about the ending scene except that I really like how one of her last lines in the drama is when she tells Jin Xi that she’s tired. A very simple line..but it struck me then and there that Jin Xi is the only companion she has left and after attaining the highest status, she doesn’t seem any happier than she was back when she was experiencing the turmoil of going up against the other concubines. Comparing Zhen Huan to her younger days, I think that she was happiest when she, Mei Zhuang, and Ling Rong had just entered the palace and they were all besties who were still optimistic about their life in the harem.
Well this is my last LZH post so I worked extra hard on it. I tried harder to read between the lines and interpret Zhen Huan & the emperor’s characters more since they are the main highlight of this episode and they are also the characters who have built up the most walls around them. Zhen Huan started out as being a characters whose thoughts and motivations were clear and out in the open..but gradually she began to wear her heart on her sleeve less and less until we could no longer know exactly what she was feeling and thinking. The emperor remained closed off to everyone, even to Zhen Huan there was a part of him that was restrained and we could see this in his final scene.
It’s hard to describe just why I loved the Legend of Zhen Huan so much, all I can say is that all 76 episodes, despite their slow parts, have been a great watch. Before watching LZH I really thought nothing could top Bu Bu Jing Xin but of course, LZH proved me wrong. To me LZH is a masterpiece, I can never get tired of watching random episodes/scenes over and over again. The costumes and acting cannot be beaten, the writing was spot-on and I love how LZH was NOT some romanticized tale of a love story with the emperor, nor was it an overly dramatic weep-fest when the characters constantly bemoan their fate of being a concubine stuck in the palace.
I will forever be a fan of Sun Li, Lan Xi, and JIANG XIN! and of course other actresses have left great impressions on me–particularly the ones for the characters Jing Fei, Cao Gui Ren, and maybe Duan Fei. The draw of the drama may not be a ‘big name cast’ for all the characters but wow, they really casted all of the side characters wonderfully (except for 17th, what was with his casting? T_T) and all of them had substantial character development.
………….One day I had someone comment using the username “lzhfreak” and YEAH I think I should use that username too because that is what is what I am. I admit it and I’m pretty sure everyone already knows it. 😉 Even after I’ve finished the drama for so long, I still go back and rewatch a random scene, look for more pretty stills of the drama, and even listen to the soundtrack and keep up on news about the cast. I can’t help it! >__< Anyways I will stop ranting about how awesome LZH is, HAHAHA…to all of my readers who have stuck with me for all of my reviews, thanks so much and I hope you enjoyed the drama as much as I did. Hopefully you were not disappointed if you checked out LZH based on my RAVING REVIEWS. And to those occasional commenters who told me that they tried LZH based on my reviews and enjoyed the drama, thank you! Whenever I get those comments I feel like I’ve successfully lured over one more person into LZH, HAHA. 😛
In other news, Sun Li has been nominated for an International Emmy Award for her performance in LZH! Woot woot! Lastly I will say that this may be my last review post about LZH but it will not be the last time I will talk about LZH…because I will never shut up about this drama! 😛 I will probably be going back and updating some of my old reviews so that I can get rid of the ‘bandwidth exceeded’ pics in them. >__<
Other LZH-related posts:
- Sun Li’s latest c-drama Hot Mom!
- Sun Li nominated for International Emmy Award
- LZH Soundtrack
- Jiang Xin’s upcoming c-drama Hua Xu Yin
- Favorite actresses: Jiang Xin
- Yao Bei Na, singer of the LZH theme songs
- Heisui’s Thoughts: The dramas I won’t shut up about
- Overall Review by Mookie
Zhen Huan & Emperor’s final scene
Theme Songs (Live Performance) by Yao Bei Na (0:10-4:18)