Episode 2 of Empress of China 武媚娘传奇
Fan Bing Bing’s secret to her perfect skin is to put on two sheet masks per day, at least that’s what she claims. I had to google her secrets because she looks so gorgeous in this drama. Anyways, since this drama is being aired at different sections and times at different regions of China, this review/synopsis is both episode 2/3.
The episode begins with Xian Fei confronting Wei Fei, saying that she’s sick and tired of all her crap, and she’s going to tell Huang Shang/Emperor everything that Wei Fei made her do. This implies that Xian Fei was forced to help Wei Fei kill a few women and babies in the hou ting (the palace where concubines live). But… Xian Fei decides to commit suicide after a few words of discouragement from Wei Fei. Logically speaking if Xian Fei actually decided to tell everyone what Wei Fei forced her to do, Wei Fei would actually be in trouble, but… nope, commits suicide.
RuYi and all the cai ren are all competing to be Lan Ling Wang in the Dance of Lan Ling Wang. Historically speaking, Lan Ling Wang Ru Zhan Qu (Dance of Lan Ling Wang) stems from Lan Ling Wang, a well-respected prince and general winning a war with 500 soldiers agains 10 000 enemy soldiers. This song and dance was created to honor him. So back to the story, whoever is a good enough dancer gets to be Lan Ling Wang (the main dancer) in the dance, and it comes down to RuYi (Fan Bing Bing) and Xiao Chang (the annoying antagonist at this point). And the prize for being the main dancer? To sleep with the emperor! Yay.
Long story short, Wei Fei bribes/threatens the headmaster dancer to make Xiao Chang the main dancer. So during the last ‘competition’, she diverts RuYi and XuHui to Ye Ting (which is this place where young women in the palace are banished to wash clothes and do work as a punishment) and make RuYi miss the competition.
So you’re telling me that a palace where the Emperor lives can allow a cai ren to roam around after hours – especially to a forbidden palace? Where are the guards? Where are the eunuchs? The walk from one palace to another is like half an hour in the forbidden city, how did she manage to not get caught?! Anyways, RuYi decides to leave her concubine palace area to wander, and wanders into Cheng Chang Gong, which is a forbidden palace that Empress WenDe used to live.
Since Xiao Chang was picked to become Lan Ling Wang, she gets to sleep with the Emperor! Well at this time, Shu Fei decides to gift a painting of the deceased Wen De Empress. The Emperor misses her a lot after this, decides to go to her empty palace (conveniently the one that RuYi coincidentally enters!).
RuYi finds Empress WenDe’s favourite mask, and begins to dance with it on. Apparently Empress Wende was really well known to dance as Lan Ling Wang. So… RuYi did what everyone would have done… and danced with her mask on.
The Emperor, in the emptied palace sees an unknown girl (RuYi, but he hasn’t met her yet) wearing his deceased wife’s favourite mask and dancing. The logical choice would to confront her to take off the mask and to leave the forbidden palace, but in this drama, there are no logical choices, just convenient ones. So again, upon seeing an unknown girl with the likeness of your deceased wife, wearing her favourite mask and dancing, you would obviously dance with her.
They dance for a good 3 or four minutes before RuYi decides to run. Which is also… convenient, because if I decided to wear a precious looking piece of accessory and decided to dance with it, I would sprint like a deer if I heard anyone come by. But nope, she dances with the Emperor, and leaves in a Cinderella-esque fashion.
The Emperor doesn’t chase after her for some reason – this girl who strangely resembles your dead wife who is running off with a seemingly precious mask. It conveniently cuts scene to the next day where the eunuch explains that the Emperor was so drunk that he was carried from Cheng Chang Gong. So did the Emperor just go back to drinking after RuYi ran away or did he just suddenly pass out? The eunuch also says that the mask is missing. Emperor angrily orders the eunuch to find the thief that stole it.
But seriously, if you didn’t want anyone stealing this mask, why would you leave it out in the open in an unguarded area in an unguarded palace (that literally someone wandered into). And it’s so steal-worthy too; it looks like it’s made out of gold and semi precious stones because people in the olden days did not use plated medals, especially royals. Then, when you see an unknown girl wearing this mask, you decide to dance with her instead of prosecute her immediately. Then you become angry the next day when you find out when it’s missing when you clearly saw her running away with it. I am so unimpressed with you, Emperor.
To wrap it up, because the Emperor didn’t sleep with Xiao Chang that day, she kneeled the whole night that night and was unable to dance as Lan Ling Wang because she got sick. And RuYi got to become the main dancer! This episode pretty much went full circle from main dancer not being RuYi, and in the end… it’s still RuYi.
In the last scene, RuYi finds that her arranged Lan Ling Wang mask is missing and it’s replaced with the one that she stole. At this point everyone knows that there’s a missing mask and the eunuch’s been going crazy over it. But RuYi was like, screw it, I’m going to wear it out.
This episode ends with the Emperor stopping the performance promptly after he realizes that RuYi is wearing the Lan Ling Wang mask (again, Emperor has to take some responsible for this…).
Overall, RuYi still seems unlikeable and unrelatable in this drama. Yes she looks super gorgeous, but she seems reckless and doesn’t think in advance. I don’t understand why they all say that her character is so intelligent, she seems way too straight forward and uncalculating to be intelligent since she’s not considering all possible consequences from her actions… but who knows, further down. She’s too much of a protagonist, too good and innocent.