I am loving this drama, and I couldn’t wait to watch this episode with Li Er entering the palace. Dilraba Dilmurat playing the role of Li Er is so different from her role as innocent and carefree Feng Jiu in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, and I’m enjoying her performance. I think that Li Er has much more depth to her character, and there is so much pain and suffering that she‘s experiencing in her life, it’s definitely a transition to a mature role.
Jing Ke and Li Er practice the paired sword technique that they had developed as children and side by side, they make identical movements with their swords. They float, dance and twirl among the woods, as they look deep into each others’ eyes throughout. It is so beautiful and touching, like all of the love and affection they hold for each other are being expressed through this routine and the music pairs beautifully with the scene.
At the palace, Ying Zheng eliminates the Chancellor position so that he alone holds all the power. His newest advisor, Li Si, is the first to step forward and express his support. The next ones to do so are Zhao Gao and Li Zhong, giving the rest of the ministers no choice but to follow while Ying Zheng smirks.
Moving on, Li Si asks Ying Zheng to have someone secretly monitor the Duke of Wenxin, since he used to hold a significant position at court and possesses much knowledge about Qin. Ying Zheng agrees and assigns this task to Zhao Gao, and it looks like Ying Zheng’s trust in Li Si grows by the day. Why do I have the feeling this is going to wreak havoc down the road?
Since their routine was interrupted by rain, Jing Ke and Li Er find a cave to hide out in. They warm themselves by a fire as their clothes dry on a branch nearby, and they reminisce about their childhood memories. Having grown up together since they were young, they have so much affection for each other that it practically bursts off the screen. Li Er thinks that if only Jing Ke would go with her, she would be willing to run away and risk the King of Qin’s wrath. Aww. Darn it. I think if Li Er had told Jing Ke what was going on, he definitely would have run away with her.
Jing Ke mentions that they should head back and after he’s stands up, Li Er grabs him around the waist from behind. She asks him, “Did you ever like Li Er? Did you think of Li Er as only a sister? Or as a woman?” After some hesitation, Jing Ke whirls around and calls her “Li Er” instead of the usual “Martial Arts Sister”. He tells her, “There is only you in my heart, there is no one else. I swore to always protect you. I’ll never betray you. I’ll never bring you heartache.” Aww. It sucks that this confession is coming way too late.
There’s so much intensity in this scene. Li Er tells Jing Ke, “You have to continue living. You have to live for the world’s people. You have to remember no matter what happens, no matter where you are, my heart will only belong to you.” So sweet and romantic. They kiss and spend the night together.
Meanwhile, in the palace Ying Zheng thinks about Li Er. Flashbacks. Flashbacks again. These scenes are really cute, but I don’t think it’s necessary to show them so many times. We can tell that he really loves and wants to be with her.
The next morning, Li Er wakes up in Jing Ke’s arms and says how happy she is, so happy that it feels unreal. He’s her first love the way that Li Er is Ying Zheng’s, and I don’t think that is ever going to completely go away. I wonder if the writers will make it out to be that Jing Ke was her first, innocent love, but Ying Zheng’s going to be the love of her life.
From Li Er’s point of view, she must have realized how little time they have together which is why she grabbed the opportunity to express her feelings so they could at least be happy for a little while. Her heart must be tearing apart.
When Jing Ke leaves to meet with the swordsman Gao, he tells Li Er that he will always hold on to her. Not realizing that Li Er is going to be gone when he returns, he rides happily through the woods. Li Er knows that her escort from Qin to take her to the palace is already on its way, and cries. Li Er to Jing Ke as he was leaving, “Watch out for your safety on your journey.” These may be the last words Li Er ever says to Jing Ke. She tells Tian Guang to look after Jing Ke, and that she doesn’t want to be the burden that keeps him from his responsibilities.
Li Er meets her palace escort, which is led by Ying Zheng’s closest and most trusted aide, Li Zhong. Li Er realizes that her time with Jing Ke is at an end and symbolically takes off the silk scarf Jing Ke bought her and places it in her bag. Li Er takes one last long look back, and then steps into the carriage, crying as she heads back to the palace. Ying Zheng really went all out to make sure nothing goes wrong. There are five soldiers on horseback leading the procession, four maids, and a column of at least 20 soldiers follow behind the carriage.
Jing Ke meets with Gao, and they get straight to fighting. I like that, no pointless small talk. They fight, and Gao is able to get the better of Jing Ke multiple times. Gao tells Jing Ke that although he is talented, he has too many worries and his temperament is too gentle. In order to become greater, he needs to put down his burdens.
Li Er arrives at the palace escorted by her crowd of palace maids and soldiers. The palace walls are so tall, thick and imposing that it makes you feel like once you enter the palace, you’d never be able to escape. To protect the King’s safety, there are no weapons allowed in the inner palace, and Li Zhong asks Li Er to turn over the Gong Sun family sword her grandfather had given her.
It’s one more stab in the heart for Li Er as she loses another piece of herself. Sensing she has no choice, Li Er turns over the sword but tells Li Zhong to protect it with his life. She wants it to be buried with her when she dies. In her new residence, Li Er cries as she sits in her rose bath. She’s being prepared to become one of the King’s women, and it’s the last place in the world she wants to be.
Madam Chu informs the Grand Dowager of Li Er’s arrival to the inner palace. She’s referred to as “an ordinary woman from the defeated kingdom of Wei”. The Grand Dowager is furious that an ordinary woman has been brought into court, because the King’s consorts have all been princesses and noble women, each carefully selected by the Grand Dowager herself. The Grand Dowager decides that the King is a man after all, and it’s not unreasonable for the King to bring a woman that he likes into the palace. What? Trying to keep the peace? Or knows that she has the power to prevent Li Er from rising in the inner palace?
Li Er is horrified when she finds out she is going to be named a royal consort, a Liang Ren with fourth level rank. She holds a knife to her throat while the palace maids around her plead with her to stop, saying that being appointed a Liang Ren is every woman’s dream. Not this one. Li Er decides to stab herself when she faints.
A physician examines Li Er, and he is unwilling to tell her what is going on before he reports to the King. After Li Er grabs him by the wrist, he informs her that she’s pregnant. At this, Li Er is in complete shock. She didn’t think at all this might happen?
Jing Ke returns to Tian Guang’s house and looks for Li Er. Tian Guang tells him that she left to go to Qin, and that she likely made a devil’s bargain with the King of Qin for the antidote that saved Jing Ke’s life. When Li Er left, she had taken with her the Gong Sun family sword and the silk scarf that Jing Ke had given her. With that, Jing Ke finally realizes the truth and that Li Er had been lying to him about the antidote and he rides towards Xianyang City at breakneck pace. I think he realizes that Li Er had been saying goodbye to him when they did their sword dance and they spent the night together. He looks like he sorely regrets not going off with Li Er to find a peaceful and happy place to always be together. Tian Guang basically just ruined everything Li Er was trying to do by leaving in secret.
Ying Zheng goes to visit Li Er for the first time. She’s all dressed up in rich and expensive palace clothing, completely different from what she wore before. We need to talk about the styling they used with Li Er. The hairstyle looks awful. It’s all swept up and pulled back so her hair is five inches high, and she has three ornaments stuck on either side. Just….why? Why would they do that? Li Er looks like she’s aged ten or fifteen years. Other than the hairstyle, I don’t really like the style and the color of the outfit she’s wearing either. When we saw Ying Zheng’s other consorts, they all looked so pretty. I hope this hairstyle and outfit choice doesn’t last for that many episodes. Anyways.
Ying Zheng comes in, and everyone delivers a formal greeting except for Li Er, who silently sits on her bed. He sends everyone away. Ying Zheng: “You kept your promise.” Li Er is not about to let up one inch, “I came for my martial arts senior.” Ying Zheng: “Now that you’ve entered my palace, don’t even think about leaving, not even one step.” Li Er asks, “Why is it me? With one order from you, so many dukes and warlords would be willing to find thousands of beautiful women for you to enjoy. Why did it have to be me?” Ying Zheng: “Those other women who submit to me immediately are boring.”
Wrong answer! Why didn’t you tell her the truth? That you met her when you were kids, that she saved your life, and you’ve been in love with her ever since? I’m sure that would’ve gone over much better than this. I think he’d get much further with Li Er if he showed her he could be kind and he isn’t just the hateful King of Qin that she thinks he is right now. I’m glad that Li Er is being so open and straightforward with him right now, and that she sees no need to pretend to like him.
Li Er says, “I’m not your toy!” Ying Zheng leans in and touches her face: “The more you resist me like this, the more I want to have you.” She bites his hand in response and he pulls away. Lol! I love her. Ying Zheng: “You like to bite people?” I’m liking the scenes and interactions between Ying Zheng and Li Er, and I hope the writers included tons of Ying Zheng and Li Er scenes in the rest of the drama. Ying Zheng needs to change his attitude though.
Li Zhong reports the arrival of the physician, who has an urgent report to deliver regarding Li Er. Li Er knows what’s about to happen, but she continues to sit on the bed and doesn’t say anything. The physician reports that when he examined Li Er earlier, he discovered that she’s pregnant, a month along. Ying Zheng can’t believe it, and storms back and forth in anger. Finally he orders, “Kill the baby!”. Li Er: “If you’re going to kill him, kill me first!” Ying Zheng dismisses the doctor and pulls Li Zhong’s sword out and puts it against her neck. Oh boy.
Preview: The aftermath of Ying Zheng finding out Li Er is pregnant, and on her first day in the palace, Li Er is pushed into a fight.
Comments: After watching this episode, I would completely understand if it takes a while for Li Er to put aside her feelings for Jing Ke enough to love Ying Zheng, because the love there is so strong. I think Ying Zheng‘s going to have to be very patient and work really hard to win Li Er’s heart, and he’s not going to do it by being arrogant and hard headed with her. It just wouldn’t be realistic if Li Er goes into the palace and falls in love with Ying Zheng right away.
It will be interesting to see what Ying Zheng does about Li Er’s pregnancy, because at that time in history, I’m sure that women didn’t have intimate relations with anyone before marriage, let alone get pregnant. It‘s especially difficult with a man like Ying Zheng, who is the King of the most powerful kingdom in the world and grew up with people always treating him with the utmost respect because they were terrified of what he might do to them.
Even though Madam Chu will be Li Er’s main rival in the palace, I can’t bring myself to hate her yet. I think I still have residual love from when she played Cheng Yu in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. I’m sure in the next few episodes she’ll turn evil and I’ll have to start disliking her, but so far it seems like your everyday sniping and scheming amongst consorts. Besides, I’m not sure it’s possible to hate anyone more than I did Su Jin.
I wanted to leave you with these ultra cute pictures of Jing Ke and Li Er when they were children. Thanks everyone for reading!