The Princes are introduced!
I always disliked Zhong Er from the beginning – the little brat that stuffed his face while he betrayed Mei Niang a first time, and blamed Mei Niang a second time for his servant-mother’s death (even though it was still partially Empress Wang’s fault). I dislike him even more after these few episodes, but luckily, it’s the only times that he shows up.
The episode starts out with where it ended off in episode 85, where Mei Niang is officially crowned Empress Wu – and this is how I’ll refer to her from now on. Her demeanour has changed within the next few episode – her voice has gotten a lot lower, and speaks very slowly but concise. I get it, she’s a woman of power – she needs only a few words to get her point across since she surrounds herself with smart people that understand her, and she never needs to explain herself.
This was very touching at this moment, where they announce her as Empress Wu, because their eyes well up with tears. They’ve worked so hard to this moment.
So suddenly it pops up on the screen that Mei Niang was crowned Empress Wu 18 years after she first entered the palace. She is only 32 years old at this point. I don’t mind her heavy make-up in this scene because she’s being crowned, but I really do prefer her previous look in the earlier episodes – it just suited her so much more. I guess in order to look ‘old’ you really gotta put on lots of eyeshadow and flare up the eyebrows right? I really also hate the new hair. Sigh.
So… 5 years later…
Empress Wu tries to hide the fact that the Emperor still has feng chi, the disease that causes him to have crazy headaches – and now, he goes into comas for days.
She personally tries out medicine for him, and suffers the side effects to see how bad they are, as the loving wife as she is.
I already watched the Episode 90 trailer and I am so mad. I can’t believe the Emperor is favouring such a younger girl that was meant for his son, no less! And Empress Wu has done so much for him, like try out medicine and harm her own body for the sake of him?! I know he’s the Emperor and this was common practice, but it’s just so unfair. He doesn’t deserve her.
The Emperor gets another case of feng chi and he falls into a coma. They hide the fact that he is ill, and tell all the chancellors (and the rest of the country) that he has actually fully recovered by now. But since the Emperor has fallen for a coma for more than 3 days, Mei Niang decides to chair the meeting between the chancellors.
Holy crap these details that they paid attention to. Look at all the set and architecture, and design! It really beats the TVB Hong Kong dramas that I’m used to watching. The production value of this is through the roof.
I swear they’re the same beads from 15 episodes back.
Anyways, regardless, she has to stay behind these beads because she’s the Emperor’s woman (and she is not to be seen by so many men), and she’s not even supposed to be involved politically too. It’s already a big deal for her being there, but the fact that she steps out from behind the beads.
You can see how much she’s grown from this scene. The way she talks, the power and assuredness that she has, the way she holds herself, she’s developed from a young girl into an alpha-female. All the other chancellors tell her to just end the meeting, and that they’ll wait for the Emperor, partially because patriarchy – they felt that a woman should not be involved in politically issues, and also because they really believed that the prediction about her was true, a woman surnamed Wu will end the Tang dynasty.
So all along, within the courts, the elite chancellors have been taking over, and their leader is Zhang Sun Wu Ji. Elite means that they were all from very wealthy families with really good connections – think Harvard graduates – they were all afforded the type of opportunity since they were young because of their good family and education and connections.
And there are the other ones, I’ll call them the common chancellors. They have no leader. All along they’ve been standing the back at the court, because they do not have the connections. These are the ones that graduated from a non-Ivy League school. Even though they are smart and hardworking, their families are common and they have no special connections.
Since Zhang Sun Wu Ji has been against Mei Niang all along after all these years and also taken over the court, she has taken the opportunity to promote these common chancellors so that the elite don’t take over. They’ve gotten so powerful that even the Emperor is pressured by them to make certain decisions.
Mei Niang has promoted a few common chancellors while she was Li Shi Min’s concubine already. She takes this opportunity to promote common chancellors in the war, and within the court. Understandably, the ‘elites’ are pissed.
She comes back, and the Emperor’s conveniently awake from his coma. He was the one that directed her to promote the common chancellors (to balance out the power that the elites have) but now the hate is all directed towards her. Like c’mon Li Zhi, how could you find yourself a different concubine?!
Meanwhile Zhong Er intentionally lets the know Emperor that there might be a cure for his feng chi and that Mei Niang has been keeping the cure from him. Zhong Er thinks it’s an opportunity to make them have an argument, but really, the Emperor finds out that Empress Wu was just trying out the medicine, and their side effects are too great for the Emperor to use.
I know I was fanning over Li Zhi ten episodes back, but with each episode I dislike him more and more. Not only is he a pretty crappy Emperor (since he doesn’t do a lot of his own work, and is easily swayed by people), he keeps having these hissy fits. He always looks so unhappy. He had a hissy fit in this scene saying that he doesn’t want to be protected anymore – not by his father, his brothers, and ultimately not Mei Niang. She tries to calm him down like calming a young powerful child. I just want to say, you can! Stop taking your incapabilities out on other people!
Zhong Er, being an asshole, thinks that they had a big argument. He suggests to his teachers, whom are also chancellors to remove Empress Wu’s title, on the basis that she is politically involved, and that she hid the Emperor’s disease from the public, as well as the cure from the Emperor. His chancellors report it to the Emperor but the Emperor refuses to remove the Empress title from Mei Niang.
Anyways Zhong Er, the little brat, decides to take matters into his own hands, seeing that the Emperor will not get rid of Empress Wu. He decides to assassinate Li Zhi in order to become the Emperor. That is your own father, you d-bag!
Zhong Er wanted to assassinate the Emperor on the night of a celebration with a lot of different chancellors. Empress Wu already knows of this, and she already takes pre-cautions against it.
A servant very obviously puts in a pill of poison that the Empress sees.
Empress Wu stops the Emperor before he drinks. Because the Emperor’s health hasn’t been so great, out of filial piety, the Crown Prince Zhong Er, should drink it.
At this point Zhong Er is sweating and sh*ting bricks. He knows that it’s poisoned – everyone is watching – if he doesn’t drink it, it’ll look very suspicious and disrespectful. So he drinks it and sits down like a deflated balloon.
Luckily, Empress Wu goes back to her seat and sits down, and signals to him that she switched the cups, and that she had the poisoned one. She had let him live on purpose.
Empress Wu demands that Zhong Er resigns from the position of Crown Prince, as she cannot trust him to be around the Emperor. She could’ve killed him tonight, and she could kill him again if he doesn’t comply.
Meanwhile, Li Zhi and Mei Niang have a scene where they are being all upset about Zhong Er being sent into exile. Do they ever have a happy couply moment? Screencaps included because it was such a nice set:
So by this time, the Crown Prince positions are opened – obvious they would go to Empress Wu’s sons:
SPOILER: We only meet two of her sons and they’re fighting over to be the Crown Prince but jokes on them, in the end, Li Dan gets it – the wildcard prince that isn’t even introduced.
Li Hong is less smart and not as good at martial arts, but he has a good heart.
Li Xian is smart, but conniving and manipulative.
Empress Wu has a very cute and sweet mom moment with Li Hong while he’s dressing to get the official title for Crown Prince. She fixes his crown and clothes and everything, and tells him that no matter what, he’ll always be her child. Sew kyoote.
Screen caps from the ceremony:
I have developed a new love for gold and red from this drama. And embroidery. She always looks so royal and powerful. I don’t know how her head can hold up all that hair and gold though – they must have had insane neck pain back then.
Empress Wu creates a book/list of names of common chancellors. My mandarin isn’t that fluent, plus they use very ancient terms and ways of speaking so I don’t understand how this list of chancellors is such a big deal, but it is. Apparently it makes it easier for the Emperor to call upon these common chancellors and balances out the power between the elites and the common chancellors.
Yet they have another scene where they’re kind of crying. Why are they always upset?!
The elite chancellors are now pissed. They nominate Mei Niang to be in charge of a celebration, which one expose her to assassination. She understands that it is a trap, but she goes for it anyways in the next episode. I mean obviously she doesn’t die, because historically she lives until 80-ish something years old. I’m not looking at that at all. I’m just dreading the appearance of Ming Yue, where we’ll see her seduce the Emperor. I wonder if it’s this experience that pushes Mei Niang over the edge and makes her into Wu Ze Tian – I would be so pissed too that I would take a man’s country and start calling it my own after his death.