Nothing is irreplaceable in the palace, including senior members of the palace, like Ah-Duo. After her baby died and she did not give birth to another heir, it looks like now she’s getting the boot in favor of a younger woman. Which has added gravitas with the dots Gaoshun and Jinshi connected last week between Ah-Duo’s palace and the recent string of chemical burns.
While every day might seem like a party at the palace with endless tea parties and entertainments, in reality, it’s not- as Mao Mao points out, it’s work. Fraternize with the competition to get useful intel- which in Lady Gyokuyou’s case can be used for good in her family’s trade, but for others, like in Lady Lishu’s bullying, can be used for harm. Frankly, it sounds exhausting to have to be on your guard constantly.
The bullying is kept very subtle, so you wouldn’t know it was happening unless you paid close attention. The poor girl almost gets served another travesty (this time, honey). I’m not sure if Lishu realizes they’re hazing her or if she assumes they’re unhappy accidents. The ladies do their hardest to emotionally manipulate Lishu into thinking that it’s everyone else but them who are the bad guys. That seems rather nearsighted on the servants’ part, it could totally backfire (and rightly so)- once she gets older and gains more weight with the emperor, she could have them fired or much worse. Regardless, she needs new handmaidens. Thankfully Mao Mao sees what’s up and subtly hints that the beverage is a no-go, much to Lishu’s relief.
The woman who drowned- that she was supposedly responsible for the attempted poisoning leads me to wonder if someone was ordered to privately dispose of her. It looks like Jinshi wonders the same thing too, sending her off on assignment to Ah-Duo’s palace.
I like the different personalities given to each of the palaces through the interior design as well as the personalities of the servants- the warmth of Gyokuyou’s, the petty jealousies of Lishu’s, the flightiness of Lingua, and the mature efficiency of Ah-Duo’s. Ah-Duo’s household knows how to get shit done and plays off as relatively calm compared to the others, though a lot of that may have to do with everyone being older at this palace.
Of course, getting shit done can also extend to poisoning, and if one of these ladies is indeed behind it, there is every reason to worry. Unlike the flighty servants at the other palaces, the ladies here could probably actually succeed at pulling it off.
The honey from earlier came from- you guessed it- Lady Ah-Duo’s palace, supplied by the head servant’s family who makes the stuff. Not only that, the head lady seems pretty darn devoted to Ah-Duo. The question is- if Fengming is behind this, how much does Ah-Duo know?
Jinshi is a shit-head. He knows what’s happening with the honey and Ah-Duo but is taking his sweet time about it and seems to be enjoying the whole affair. Then, he gets really weird, trying to force feed honey (rather suggestively too) to Mao Mao. I didn’t find that scene funny, it actually made me rather uncomfortable. From what I’ve heard, the creator supposedly apologized on SNS for how Jinshi turned out in this scene, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter. And it gets kind of worse- Gaoshun (who was looking the other way the whole time, mind you) has the nerve to ask Mao Mao to forgive Jinshi for a prank gone too far… what the hell.
If the web of palace connections weren’t already complicated enough, we have further strands layered on. Mao Mao’s spidey senses start tingling and as her hunches usually do, they lead her to some pretty juicy intel. According to the annals, the current emperor’s son that he had with Ah-Duo was born around the same time as the current emperor’s little brother, only to die shortly thereafter. Earlier, Mao Mao commented that Ah-Duo reminded her of somebody she knows. Which is curious, because if the baby was truly dead, how could she remind Mao Mao of an acquaintance, unless Ah-Duo has another family member who works at the palace? Hmmmm… Besides that, Ah-Duo was the emperor’s only concubine prior to ascending the throne, which Mao Mao remarks is unusual. If she wants any answers, it’s looking like she’s going to have to get them from Ah-Duo.
That’s not the only thing Mao Mao found. The one who delivered the ill-fated child was none other than her dear old dad. Which really isn’t terribly surprising given his medical talent as well comments on his part about it being “fate” that brought Mao Mao to the palace. Given his technical expertise, I find it highly unbelievable that what happened to the child was through medical malpractice. Perhaps something with palace intrigue and being in the wrong place at the wrong time had something to do with it. Mao Mao’s clever, and I have no doubt we’ll find out soon enough.
However, in the meantime, if you have read the source(s), please, please, please do not post anything in the comments about any events, details, or plot developments that have not been explicitly shown in the anime, as of yet. Such comments will be deleted. Let’s show some consideration for the anime-only viewers and thank you in advance!