As much as Mao Mao wishes to be left alone, the Imperial court doesn’t. She receives a request from high up- the emperor, in fact, to cure Lihua. Mao Mao recognizes it for what it is- no room for failure. As such, the first thing on her remedy regimen is diet, often the best place to start. Unfortunately, Mao Mao gets caught in the middle of female jealousies, Lihua’s other serving ladies disliking the arrival of someone from a rival concubine’s faction, do their best to make her life hell. To be fair, though, I don’t know how well the science behind diet and wellbeing was known at that time, so it may the ladies’ ignorance talking just as much as, or more so, than pure jealousies. Why, though, are they trying to feed her food lying down? They should prop her up while feeding her- there’s a greater chance she’ll choke being fed from that position, defeating the purpose of curing her in the first place.
Jinshi steps in, cajoling the women into allowing Mao Mao in with her food. Upon which, Mao Mao makes the shocking discovery that in spite of the poisonous face powder being banned from the palace, the ladies are still putting it on Lihua. At this point, they’re being just plain stupid- they should know after what happened with the babies how harmful it is. Not to mention that we don’t seem to see them wearing the powder they keep putting on their lady.
The ladies’ ignorance and stubbornness draws a clear contrast to Mao Mao’s logical mind. Mao Mao is certainly stubborn too- she doesn’t give up attempting to cure Lihua, but hers stems from confidence in her knowledge (well, and also a desire to keep her head).
Up until now, Mao Mao’s always been rather blasé about everything, water off a duck’s back sort of attitude. This is the first we’ve seen her totally lose her cool- slapping a lady, dragging her by the hair, and dumping the powder on her. Those ladies probably aren’t going to mess with her again. Good for Mao Mao on giving them a piece of her mind, though she did go a little extreme. Aoi Yuuki did a superb job conveying “enough is enough”, playing her seething anger to a T.
Also, that moment where Jinshi echoes Mao Mao’s thoughts on the scariness of women was kind of funny- Jinshi and Mao Mao are oil and water, but their minds run on the same track in some respects. But hey, at least he’s useful, getting the steam bath made to help complete Lihua’s treatment.
The amount of thought she puts into everything from the ingredients of the food to when and how to introduce more solid foods really shows she knows her stuff. It also speaks to the amount of experience she must have had, treating the ladies in the brothel. The work takes its toll on her though- you can see the exhaustion in her eyes.
Her hard work pays off, and the patient gets better physically. Lihua still grieves her child, as is only natural, that’s not something that can be cured by medicine or steam baths. As a side note, Lihua’s flower is the Kikyo (bellflower in English maybe?). In the language of flowers, Kikyo represent “forget me not”, rather symbolic of the grief she is going through.
In the end, Mao Mao and Lihua come away with a better understanding of each other. Mao Mao sees that Lihua isn’t a heartless bitch and Lihua comes to respect her more (especially after Mao Mao gives her some steamy bedroom tips LOL). The scene where she strokes Mao Mao’s hair as she sleeps like a mother to her child was sweet. (For a second when I saw the shadow, I was afraid it was going to be Jinshi, and breathed a sigh of relief when it wasn’t).