After a strong start, the momentum continues through increased interactions between the characters and their stories fleshed out for our full enjoyment. At this point, I’ve decided that I’m in it for the long haul (yep, all 50 episodes) regardless of who gets the girl.
Her backstory is tragic because what protagonist doesn’t have one. As a little girl, she was fooled into poisoning the current Empress Dowager leading to the deaths of her grandfather and older brother. Despite carrying the burden her entire life, she maintains a positive attitude and pursues her goal to become a doctor in her brother’s stead.
Unfortunately, the road she chooses is is riddled with difficulties not only because social conventions would never allow it but also because her father who already blames her for being the black sheep forbids anyone in the family from practicing medicine. Yun Xian repeatedly gets into trouble, is reprimanded and even whipped but she preserves a never-give-up attitude by coming up with ingenious workarounds to secretly practice.
Nevertheless, Zhu Qi Yu as an all-around good guy is very likable and the actor is slowly growing on me. His bromance with Qi Zhen, his older half-brother, is a heartwarming display of unwavering trust from years of friendship and I’d really hate to see the fallout, which is likely going to be because of Yun Xian or the Empress Dowager who is hell bent on turning the brothers against each other.
Imperial Doctress spares no time setting up the love story from the first moment Yun Xian saves Qi Yu to the moment he saves her in return. It is a case of young love meets Prince Charming and I find myself smiling at their giddiness. Imagine my facepalm moment when Yun Xian’s father wants to disown her for rejecting Official Xu’s marriage proposal. To Yun Xian’s father, she should be with royalty for goodness sake!
The catch 22 is that the drama spends an equal or actually more time building up the other leg of the triangle in the form of a budding friendship between Qi Zhen and Yun Xian. Even though he often leans towards acting like a douche thereby ruining the moment, Yun Xian is perceptive enough to be aware of Qi Zhen’s good intentions even during times when he deliberately tries to mask his kindness.
The two powerful men in her life are naturally rushing to the rescue but Emperor Qi Zhen beats Prince Qi Yu to the punch in the most rewarding resolution to the entire debacle. It’s always a treat to see big bad put other baddies in their place because they do it so incredibly well fervently basking in the glory of a takedown. I also like how the drama comes full circle by showing that good things comes to those who do good deeds.
Though I gotta admit, the baddies have been extremely helpful so far other than their occasional roles in the widening the rift between stepmother and son. Dong Chang’s head eunuch Wang Zhen and his lackeys are a plot device to mislead the Emperor and Duke Wang and his daughter Princess Wang add fuel to the fire by spouting lies to the Empress Dowager. Somehow, the Emperor and Empress Dowager helplessly fall right into their manipulative hands and it’s odd that the seemingly intelligent Emperor can be so easily deceived.