Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace: Eps 10-14 Review
A lot happens in episodes 10-14, so here’s a quick summary:
Emperor / Ruyi:
- Emperor gets mad at Ruyi and gives her the silent treatment even though he knows she’s right
Lian Xin’s Arranged Marriage:
- Arranged marriage between Empress’ maid Lian Xin and Emperor’s head eunuch Wang Qin
- Lian Xin attempts suicide, Ruyi saves her and promises to help
- Ah Ruo insults Lian Xin multiple times, gets punished by Hui Gui Fei
- Empress’ head maid Su Lian orders the bullying of Eldest Prince
- Ruyi adopts the Eldest Prince, Empress and Hui Gui Fei freak out
- Lots of cute scenes with Ruyi & Eldest Prince
- Mei Guiren (she got promoted) has first pregnancy of the Emperor’s reign
- Mei Guiren gives birth prematurely to child with deformities who dies soon after birth (part of Hui Gui Fei and Jia Guiren’s scheme)
- Empress confines Mei Guiren in her palace for her post-pregnancy recovery, no one visits her
- Mei Guiren pretends to attempt suicide to get Emperor to visit her
- Yi Guiren (in the Empress’ camp) discovers she’s pregnant soon after Mei Guiren’s tragedy
- Jia Guiren decides to stop taking contraceptives
Mei Guiren (previously Mei Daying/Changzai) takes the spotlight because she is the first to become pregnant after the Emperor’s succession. Interestingly, the first son of the Emperor’s reign is especially precious; previously I thought only the eldest prince or crown prince positions were the most important. Mei Guiren’s pregnancy is interesting because the drama shows the various ceremonies and rituals involved. I was surprised that there’ seven a special process to determine where the best place to bury the placenta is. O_O
Mei Guiren is the kind of character you can love, hate, and pity at the same time. She annoys me but also makes me root for her too. It’s frustrating when she acts like she’s invincible and burns the entire harem “I’ve been here half a year, of course I got pregnant. If you’ve been here longer and haven’t, you’re unlucky”. BURNNNNN. Mei Guiren has the PERFECT taunting “I’m totally messing with you, HAHA” expression. So I can see why Xiyue wants to wipe the annoying smile off her face. At the same time though, I don’t want her to be defeated so easily. I get such a kick out of her smart comebacks and smirks. I like having someone who can make the antagonists feel uneasy–it spices up the story more!
Unfortunately Mei Guiren is the first to fall. I think we all saw it coming. These episodes show that just being clever and having a powerful backer (the Empress Dowager) isn’t enough to survive in the harem. Mei Guiren largely underestimates her enemies and places all her hopes on her pregnancy. It only makes her fall even harder when she’s totally blindsided by her baby’s death. It’s totally depressing seeing Mei Guiren after the loss of her baby, especially since the Empress confines her to her palace for her “recovery”. Such a cold move on the Empress’ part. Also, NO ONE visits her. It seems like Mei Guiren has no allies in the harem aside from the Empress Dowager.
Jia Guiren is just cruising while manipulating others into doing the dirty work. Jia Guiren is great at appealing to people’s darker sides and making them give in to their worst desires. She’s like the little devil on your shoulder who tempts you to do bad things. For example, Jia Guiren constantly talks about how Mei Guiren will become more powerful after her son is born, etc. This makes Xiyue more jealous and willing to scheme when the opportunity arises. Smart. Jia Guiren also encourages the Empress to marry off Lian Xin to Wang Qin, even though the Empress was hesitating at first.
So far Jia Guiren is the most cautious concubine. She doesn’t trust anyone–not even the Empress. I was surprised that she took contraceptives (starting from back when she lived in the manor) to avoid having the eldest prince or the 1st prince of the reign. She also suspected the Empress of being behind a previous concubine’s death/miscarriage (again, during the manor days). I really wanna know what happened in that backstory…if what Jia Guiren suspects is true, I’d be very disappointed. T_T
On a random note: Did anyone notice that scene when Xiyue gets angry and Jia Guiren LAUGHS at her while hiding her face behind her fan?!? LOL.
One of the things I like about RRL is that it focuses on the servants’ stories more than LZH did. Even some servants who seem like they won’t play much of a role can have an influence over the course of events. These episodes show the story of Lian Xin (Wang Xiao Cheng), the Empress’ maid. The Empress forces Lian Xin into an arranged marriage with the abusive head Eunuch Wang Qin. Ugh. Palace dramas usually go to some dark places but WOW. I’m still surprised by how far RRL goes with Lian Xin’s story. Every time she’s on screen, she seriously looks like she’s stuck in a living hell.
What makes Lian Xin’s story even more saddening is how everyone looks the other way. No one wants to go against the Empress, so none of the concubines speak up for Lian Xin. It’s painfully awkward watching the concubines pretend that the marriage is great while talking bad about Lian Xin behind her back. Hypocrisy all around. Ruyi is the only one who helps Lian Xin. My only issue is that Ruyi conveniently stumbles upon Lian Xin when she’s trying to commit suicide. Ruyi didn’t investigate what happened after she heard Lian Xin screaming on her wedding night. What would’ve happened if she hadn’t found Lian Xin? Would she have never looked into it? I would’ve liked it better if Ruyi were more active rather than coincidentally finding people who need help. I know Ruyi is a passive character, but this makes RRL rely on too many coincidences in the plot.
On a sidenote, I didn’t know that suicide was a crime for concubines and servants in the Forbidden City. I don’t remember that in LZH. Does anyone remember that being mentioned before?
I’m very disappointed in the Empress. It feels like she made a deal with a devil. She knows from the start that Wang Qin is creeping on Lian Xin and that the marriage is wrong. Her expression always looks guilty in any scene related to Lian Xin. How sad is it that the Empress has to stoop down to this level just to get information on the Emperor. It speaks volumes when even Xiyue has to back up the Empress in Wang Qin and Lian Xin’s wedding, while the Empress just stands there looking guilty. T__T I don’t think the Empress lacks empathy–it pains her to do this, and she does try to make it up to Lian Xin. (Or is she only trying to trap Lian Xin in the marriage by taking care of her siblings?!?!) The bad part is that she ignores Lian Xin’s pleas for help and continues to act like her decision was justified. *sigh*
I’m also verrrry interested in whether the Empress is involved in some of the schemes. E.g. Is she the mastermind behind the former concubine’s death?!? Did she order the bullying of the Eldest Prince or was it entirely her head maid’s doing?!
Another servant that gets more screentime is Ruyi’s head maid, Ah Ruo (Zeng Yi Xuan). I like how RRL shows her good and bad sides. Sometimes she’s fun to watch and other times she’s totally annoying. The scene when she scolds the eunuch who bullied them is priceless. It’s fun comic relief, and admittedly, it feels great seeing Ah Ruo give him a piece of her mind! At times it is helpful to have such a straightforward maid who will fight for Ruyi. On the other hand, it’s so cringey when she insults Lian Xin and Suo Xin, throws tantrums, and never learns from her mistakes. I couldn’t believe it when she still believes that she was wronged after getting rightfully punished for insulting Lian Xin. I think Ruyi is too soft on her; Ah Ruo has already become a bad apple and should be released from the palace ASAP.
An great topic that came up in the comments was the difference between the LZH and RRL Emperors. Looking back on LZH, I think the Yongzheng Emperor exerted more authority and instilled more fear into the harem. His volatile nature created a more toxic environment and subjected the concubines to his every whim. It felt like everyone was walking on eggshells around him. Demotions were more common than promotions–the concubines struggled a long time just to be promoted up one rank. In contrast, the young RRL Emperor feels like a dream. (Later in the drama, I start giving up on him..) His leadership style is more forgiving than his father’s. Promotions are more common (Mei Daying became Guiren within 6 months) and demotions are very few. At times he is impulsive (e.g. adding Mei Daying to the harem) but his relationships with the concubines from his manor seem quite stable. I also like how we can hear more of the Emperor’s deepest thoughts when he talks with Ruyi. He doesn’t feel like as much of a mystery compared to the LZH Emperor.
On the other hand, some of his flaws have started to show–he does have a sulky, scary side. Similar to the LZH Emperor, Hongli avoids conflicts. He only thinks about protecting himself from feeling bad and doesn’t consider the feelings of the people who are affected by his actions. For example, he gives Ruyi the cold shoulder after getting mad at her. Maybe if he just talked it out instead of huffing away, he wouldn’t have made her fall out of favor. Another jerk move is when he doesn’t even visit Mei Guiren after she loses her baby. Again he’s only thinking about how he doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable around Mei Guiren, not about how Mei Guiren feels hopeless and alone. Literally everyone could see through his flimsy “I just wanted you to recover well” excuse. T_T”
I’m now 1,800 words into my review. I ran out of energy to write any more. T_T Here’s a couple collages of Ruyi and Xiyue: