Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace: Eps 4-6 Review
New Zhen Huan is still a mystery to me, which makes it kinda fun to try to figure out how her life differs from the old Zhen Huan. So far the drama hasn’t shown much of her backstory; I hope we can find out more about what Zhen Huan’s life was like in the harem.
Anyways, at first I wrote off Zhen Huan (Empress Dowager) as a vengeful, merciless person. I thought she was consumed with hatred for the former Empress & Qing Ying. After these episodes, I started to feel that she’s more reasonable than I first thought. Some of her actions are over the top (e.g. putting Qing Ying under a 3year long house arrest). Yet she still repays the favor when Qing Ying helps her out. I guess Zhen Huan isn’t totally blinded by vengeance. She can still genuinely commend Qing Ying for her good deed even after all of the crap she put her through. Likewise Qing Ying treats the Empress Dowager with utmost respect despite all that happened in the past. It’s fascinating watching their scenes together because they have a mixture of dislike, wariness, and yet, mutual respect for each other. I wonder if these two would’ve gotten along better if the former Empress & Zhen Huan were not archenemies.
I love the scene when Zhen Huan grants Qing Ying a new name because I got a glimpse of Zhen Huan’s humanity. It’s at the moment when Qing Ying says that her wish is to have a deep and committed love. OOOOF. The expression on Zhen Huan’s face is everything. There’s a glimmer of sadness, regret, understanding, and also “how naive” all in ONE LOOK. It looks like Qing Ying’s answer struck a chord in her; perhaps she was also similar to Qing Ying when she was her age. I realllly wanna know what Zhen Huan was like when she was younger!!
“‘One with exemplary morals will never be in a place without virtue.’ One and one’s shadow makes a pair. That’s the loveliest thing one can ever wish for. It’s better in this world to stay quiet than act recklessly. Only by staying quiet can things turn out well.
You’re still young. You don’t understand that it’s too hard to have the perfect love…It’s good enough to have exemplary morals.”
The meaning behind Qing Ying’s new name, “Ruyi” is beautiful and encompasses the essence of her character. The more I watch the drama, the more the name makes sense. It’s impossible to have a perfect love with Hongli. Perhaps it’s at least possible for Ruyi to stay true to her morals and lead an upright life. In LZH, Zhen Huan resorted to framing and killing out of self-preservation. I’m curious to see what road Ruyi takes..
Ruyi differs from old Zhen Huan because she has a much chiller personality. Her life philosophy can be summed up as “Don’t bother”. LOL. There’s a funny scene when Chun Pin says that one of the new concubines looks hard to get along with. Ruyi replies, “Then don’t interact with her.” Haha. Ruyi cannot be bothered with troublesome people. She seems perfectly content with leading a more secluded life detached from the other concubines. Ruyi’s aunt urged her to become Empress. Frankly, I think she’d be happier not being empress because I doubt she’d enjoy managing the concubines and being in the spotlight.
Sometimes I have a hard time reading Ruyi. I’m not sure if she has forgiven Zhen Huan or if she still resents her. I have no idea if she is going to follow her aunt’s final wish or not. Is she just treating Zhen Huan well for survival? Or is she trying to gain Zhen Huan’s trust because her aunt told her to?!
Cuteness abounds in all of the Ruyi x Hongli scenes. Zhou Xun and Wallace have 100% mastered googly I-love-you eyes. A couple OTP moments I enjoyed in these eps:
- Ruyi & the emperor secretly meet while Ruyi is under house arrest. The Emperor asks how long it’s been since they’ve seen each other. Ruyi quickly replies “35 days”. She had been counting the days since they’d been apart!!!
- Ruyi & the emperor have a disagreement. They make it up to each other by painting each other’s portrait. It’s such a meaningful gesture because they cannot be painted in a portrait together–only the Emperor & Empress can be in a painting together. I love how they understood what was on each other’s minds and had the same idea.
- Basically all of the googly eye scenes
These episodes focus on Hongli’s dilemma between filial piety to his mother and devotion to Ruyi. It’s interesting seeing how the Emperor “fights” against the Empress Dowager in his own way. He’s careful not to overstep the boundaries between mother & son, while still playing whatever cards he has. It’s funny that Hongli is limited by his filial duties…but he uses his filial piety as an excuse in his stand off with the Empress Dowager. He orders that her palace renovations take as long as possible so that it’s the “best palace ever”. ‘Cuz you know, he’s such a devoted son! LOL. I’ve seen a lot of comments calling Hongli a weakling with no backbone. Given the circumstances, I think he’s done the best he could within his limitations. This isn’t an issue of a son telling his overbearing mom “no”. He’s got the duty to be filial to the Empress Dowager. If he were to go against her directly, it would be a big disrespect and a blow to his reputation.
I’m happy to introduce another major character: the Empress (Dong Jie), also known by her full name, Fucha Langhua. Langhua marries the Emperor as his primary wife, although he initially publicly rejected her for Ruyi! I’m pretty sure the memory of public rejection was burned forever into Langhua’s mind, damaging her relationship with Ruyi FOREVER!! It is a shame that the Empress and Ruyi got off on the wrong foot. If only they had a better start, I think they could’ve been good friends.
“The more Husband [Hongli] likes her [Qing Ying], the more I should show the bearing of di’fujin [main wife]. I must do it better. Act more like a di’fujin than anyone else.”
Prudent, serious, and responsible, Langhua really suits the position of Empress. I liked her determination in ep2, when she gets motivated to be the best wife she can be, even if Hongli likes Qing Ying more. That scene made me very hopeful that maybe Langhua will be better than the LZH Empress. This scene also shows why she is so set on fulfilling her duties and making her family and the Emperor proud. She may not get Hongli’s love but at least she can get his approval. I also like the scene in episode 2 when everyone finds out about the former emperor’s death, and all eyes turn to Langhua. That moment shows how reliable of a leader Langhua has been; everyone looks to her for guidance.
However, Langhua isn’t entirely innocent and is surrounded by bad influences. Her mom advises her to balance the powers in the harem, even if it means having others do some dirty work for her. Plus her mom secretly orders her personal maid to do whatever she has to do so that the Empress doesn’t have to dirty her hands herself. This sets up the stage for the Empress to do some kinda shady things, and for her supporters to do underhanded stuff. E.g. She assigns Ruyi’s best friend to a palace where she’s definitely gonna get harassed. Her minion harasses Ruyi’s bestie to the extreme. The Empress uses the power of suggestion and has little culpability because things are “out of her hands”. The motive behind Langhua’s actions are more ambiguous though…the LZH Empress was doing evilly trying to eliminate all the Emperor’s kids. Langhua is doing these things because she thinks it’s necessary to balance the harem, not because she hates the people who are implicated.
By the way, Dong Jie’s performance as Empress is impeccable. She shines so brightly in this role. I seriously believe she IS the Empress whenever she’s on screen. Her acting has remained consistent for 30+ episodes. There are more brilliant scenes of hers to come. Please anticipate it!!!
The Empress has a few concubines who are already in her camp. Her most high-ranking ally is Gao Xiyue (Tong Yao), also called Hui Gui Fei. She’s called ALL of her names so it’s hard to decide what to call her. T_T For now I’ll call her Xiyue. Xiyue is a fun character to watch because her moods are so extreme and she’s very charismatic. She can either light up a room or suck the energy right out of it. She also provides some comic relief because she’s so powerful yet so easily manipulable and impulsive. The other concubines don’t take her 100% seriously because of her quick temper. It’s funny seeing the other concubines chuckling at her whenever she rushes out in a fit of anger.
I get a kick out of seeing Tong Yao in a Qing drama because I first saw her in the modern c-drama Customize Happiness. The difference between her characters in Customize Happiness and RRL are like night and day. I seriously feel like Tong Yao is part of this era; there are no traces of her modern character. I’ve gotten used to Tong Yao’s hairstyles. Sometimes though I feel her main hairpiece is ridiculously too big for her head. A part of me wonders if the stylist chose such a big hairpiece on purpose because Xiyue is a “big-headed” (as in, arrogant) character.
Jin Yuyan (Xin Zhi Lei), also known as Jia Guiren, is also part of the Empress’ camp. She’s rarely ever called by her full name, so I’m going to call her Jia Pin in my reviews. Jia Guiren has intrigued me from the start because her expressions always look like she’s up to something. There’s more to her than we see on the surface. I got a lot more to say about her in future episodes, so we’ll leave it at that for now. By the way, I think Jia Guiren lucked out in terms of her outfits. All of her color combinations are interesting and compliment her well. Plus, her asymmetrical hairstyle really suits her personality.
The last concubine to introduce is Hailan (Janine Chang), also known as Hai Changzai. She’s usually called Hailan in the drama though, so I’ll call her Hailan. Hailan is an underdog that we can all root for. She reminds me a bit of Ling Rong from LZH because of her gentle and timid personality, plus the way she relies on the heroine. Hailan is targeted by the Empress’ camp, and frankly I think she is enduring worse things than Ling Rong did during her early days in the palace. I doubt that Hailan will turn into a villain though, because for now she’s Ruyi’s only best friend.
Hailan’s strategy is to be as unnoticeable as possible and never fight back. Her reasoning is that resisting will make it worse. And if she doesn’t give her enemies more reason to hurt her, then maybe they won’t be THAT bad. T___T Even her maids try to speak up for her and urge her to assert herself. Obviously Hailan’s strategy doesn’t work because Xiyue continues to amp up the harassment even when Hailan does nothing wrong. I hope that Hailan will be able to overcome her enemies!!
I rewatched episodes 4-6 for this review, and found myself enjoying the costumes more the 2nd time around. My favorite part is the meticulous detailing in the jewelry and the fabrics. I love the close-ups of the earrings, bracelets, rings, and nail guards especially. RRL even added the detail of the concubines having long fingernails on their pinky and ring fingers (which the nail guards protect). I mentioned before in my first review that the textiles are beautiful…and eps 4-6 really up them a level even more!
Back when I first watched eps 4-6, I still wasn’t 100% adjusted to the drama. So if you felt that way with these episodes, you weren’t alone. I’d recommend that you keep watching until episode 8 and see if you’re feeling it or not by then. I still think it’s too bad that we didn’t get to see many scenes of Ruyi’s life in Hongli’s manor. I would’ve liked to see how the concubines were back when they weren’t living in the palace. However, it is impressive that the drama has been able to characterize the Empress & her allies and Hailan so well despite the big time jump.
I’m waaaaay behind on my reviews for RRL…actually I’ve already watched up to ep36!! I can’t stop watching! The issue is it takes me forever to finish a review. Especially because every episode is jam-packed with characters and events..and time jumps (of YEARS) are quite common. I’m trying to catch up on my reviews but they are sure to take a long time.
Anyways, I am always looking forward to discussing RRL with other fans. Let me know what you thought of these episodes in the comments! Thanks for reading!
Quote translation credit: Viki, Dramafever