Detective Mao Mao sets to work investigating the culprit through cleverly fingerprinting the silver dish (though unfortunately for her, the soup sat too long in the silver dish and the oxidation ruined it’s “tastiness”). I didn’t realize that fingerprinting was used as far back as then, but apparently it was used in ancient China as far back as the 200’s BCE.
I really feel for Lishu- in the stressful environment of palace politics, she doesn’t even have the refuge of a trustworthy entourage. Not only did her food-taster attempt to trigger the girl’s allergic reaction, the other ladies purposefully advised her to wear that pink color while they wore white, making Lishu look like a thoughtless brat. It’s absolutely stupid that the ladies hold it against her for “betraying her husband” by marrying his son. Her first husband was dead for fuck’s sake and she probably wasn’t the one who broached the second marriage. When the emperor gives a command, you have to follow, “loyalty to the dead” or not- stop blaming her for events that were out of her control.
There’s more than meets the eye to Jinshi, and I don’t mean just personality. Gaoshun’s remark about “hiding your true status”- that’s pretty important. The hairpin too was supposed to be hidden (I don’t see how though, it seemed pretty obvious)- but not to Mao Mao, who noticed it immediately. They’ve both picked up things about each other that the other doesn’t want known, only tying them closer to one another.
The hairpins are not just pretty ornaments (though that on its own would be enough)- they’re also a ticket to a day trip out of the rear palace. A calling card, in a way. Mao Mao sure knows how to play Lihaku like a fiddle- having connections in the appropriate places also helps for sure. From everyone’s reaction, there’s clearly yet another meaning in place, though Mao Mao unknowingly steamrolls on ahead, right over the reluctant gentleman. Good on her for not shying away from pushing for what she wants. I’m assuming the other meaning has something more to do with going out on a date of sorts- which makes it ironic that she bribes him with one of the brothel ladies.
I found it hilarious how Gyokuyou totally played up Mao Mao’s leaving with the guy to pull Jinshi’s leg. Mao Mao’s homecoming is anything but a touching family reunion, met with a kick in the gut from grandma. I do think it was rather cruel of grandma to demand payment from Mao Mao for dude’s visit- the girl wanted to come home to see dad, give her a break. While Mao Mao points out that many women wanted to reach the top ranks of courtesanship, there are thorns hidden beneath the petals of the so-called flower district. We see this firsthand when she heads to her home street, shabby and inhabited by those who contracted the dark side of the pleasure quarters. I find it a bit bothersome that her father is so nonchalant about Mao Mao’s 10 month absence- if that happened to my child, I’d be beside myself with anxiety. Maybe like Mao Mao he gets too absorbed in his work to worry about anything else or he just accepts kidnappings as par for the course in that stratum of society.