Political scheming plays a large role in this episode, but the biggest move belongs to Li Er, who decides to leave the palace with Han Shen. It looks like it’ll also setup the subsequent storyline, but this episode just feels uneventful as it moves the pieces around for the next big development. I’m not too happy about her leaving as there’ll be less Ying Zheng and Li Er moments to see, which are the best parts, and I’m just chalking this up as one of the less interesting episodes to date.
Since Han Shen was instrumental in helping Ying Zheng and Li Er find Tian Ming, Ying Zheng asks him what he would like as a reward. When Han Shen says that he doesn’t need a reward because protecting the palace and its occupants is his job, Ying Zheng tells him that it took a lot of bravery to approach him and ask him to search the Southern Palace. He asks him why he cared so much about finding the prince. Han Shen responds that it would’ve caused the other six states to look down on Qin if one of its princes goes missing and that would endanger the King. Smooth.
Just then, Li Zhong notices that Han Shen is bleeding (it’s from the shoulder wound he received trying to assassinate Ying Zheng), and is instantly suspicious. Li Zhong doesn’t miss much. He pokes Han Shen’s shoulder wound, and comes away with his fingers covered in blood. He asks Han Shen how he ended up getting injured, and Han Shen makes up a story that he was injured during a sparring match outside the palace.
Li Er is concerned about where the conversation is headed and cuts in by saying that Han Shen helped in finding Tian Ming, and that they’re both very grateful to him. This is sufficient to end the conversation about Han Shen’s wound (whew), and Ying Zheng asks Han Shen again what kind of reward he would like. Han Shen decides to ask for a few days off, saying that he wishes to visit his family because his mother is ill. Ying Zheng readily agrees. Li Er thinks to herself whether Han Shen has some kind of plan. How is Ying Zheng going to react when he finds out that Han Shen was the one who tried to assassinate him, and Li Er has known about it this whole time? It feels like he’s definitely going to find out at some point.
After everyone has been dismissed, Ying Zheng takes Li Er’s hands into his and tells her that it’s the first time Li Er referred to Tian Ming as his child. It makes him very happy that she did so. It’s a nice moment that ends when Li Er tells Ying Zheng that she is tired from searching for Tian Ming the past few days and wishes to go back to her residence to rest. I think what Ying Zheng said made her feel very awkward. Ying Zheng tells her to go ahead, and smiles as he watches her leave.
Madam Min visits Li Er, but she happens to be resting. She has brought gifts – red dates to help Li Er recover and a skin cream made by the royal physicians. I still don’t trust you, lady. You’re up to something.
Time for more political plotting. It turns out that emissaries from the other six states that include Zhao, Wei, and Chu, have been showering Chancellor Lu with gifts and letters, trying to convince him to go to their states and become a minister. Lu Bu Wei isn’t interested as he hopes to return to Qin one day. He thinks that the courts of the other states have their own problems and are led by weak Kings, and no one would truly treat him well because he has been loyal to Qin for so many years. They know that Ying Zheng has been keeping a close eye on him, and will kill him if he senses any betrayal. They talk about how Li Si turned his back on Chancellor Lu for his own ambitions, but they decide to hold off on taking any action.
Li Si hears about it and realizes that Chancellor Lu may really have no intention of joining the other six states, and may be looking to use his father-son relationship with Ying Zheng to facilitate his return. If that happens, it would threaten Li Si’s own power and position.
Li Si decides to take action first and goes to see Ying Zheng. Ying Zheng seems to believe that Chancellor Lu has put political affairs aside and is peacefully being idle, but Li Si tells Ying Zheng that actually, Chancellor Lu has constantly been receiving visitors and may be planning to go to one of the other states to become a minister. Li Si mentions that Chancellor Lu served at court for so many years, and has a lot of information about Qin. It would be an enormous threat to the country if he were to go and become a minister for another state. Ying Zheng says that the biggest threat to Qin would be the other six states uniting, and perhaps Chancellor Lu is the biggest threat to bringing that alliance together. He decides to personally go to Luoyang City to see Chancellor Lu and investigate. Noo! Don’t fall for Li Si’s schemes, Ying Zheng!
Ying Zheng visits his mother in the Southern Palace, and he asks her if she regrets coming to Qin with Chancellor Lu. His mother says that the previous King was weak and never had thoughts of becoming King, and that without Chancellor Lu, their family would’ve never been able to return to Qin. Ying Zheng contemplates that this is all Chancellor Lu’s doing – if it hadn’t been for him, he wouldn’t be King and he wonders if he would still be meant to unite and rule the world. His mother says that of course, the world is meant to be his.
Ying Zheng asks his mother if she would’ve abandoned him if he weren’t the King of Qin, and she the Queen Dowager. She answers of course not, because he is her son. Ying Zheng says that she, the Grand Dowager, and Chancellor Lu have all been using him to gain power, position, and wealth and they never cared about his feelings. Ying Zheng says that he sometimes wishes he was an ordinary person, and he then leaves her to cry alone in her residence.
Han Shen is back at Li Er’s residence where Li Er asks him if he is concocting some kind of plan because he doesn’t really have any family to visit. Han Shen tells Li Er that he has familiarized himself with the workings of the palace, including memorizing the routes and schedules of the palace guards, and he means to take Li Er and Tian Ming out of the palace. Han Shen tells Li Er that even though Ying Zheng treats her well, and also seems to care about Tian Ming, it’s difficult to know with him. Today, he might care for Li Er more than anything, but his mood constantly changes. One day, he might decide to lock her up in jail, and it makes Han Shen worry every day.
Han Shen makes a really good point. Although Ying Zheng is in love with Li Er now, he’s a dangerous person to stay next to. He has responsibilities to Qin and the court and countless consorts. One day, he may not be able to reconcile those priorities with his love for Li Er, and when that happens, could he really put Li Er first? If not, what happens to her then?
Han Shen says that he will execute his plan when Ying Zheng leaves the palace, because security will loosen significantly. Li Er tells him that she overheard a conversation between Ying Zheng and Li Zhong, and she knows that he is about to leave Xianyang City for Luoyang City, which they plan to keep a secret so the court doesn’t find out. Li Er says that she will give her silk scarf to Han Shen to include in his letter to Tian Guang so they know it’s from her.
Chancellor Lu arranges for food and other gifts to be given to his retainers for his birthday, since they have been loyal even though he has fallen from grace. He also arranges for a letter to be given to Chu saying that he’s currently not feeling well and is unable to make a decision about becoming a minister for Chu. Just then, Ying Zheng arrives to see Chancellor Lu.
Lan Er has been staying with Tian Guang, and she tells him that she’s worried about Jing Ke because they haven’t heard from him. Tian Guang tells her not to worry because he did study and learn martial arts under Li Er’s grandfather. Just then, Han Shen’s letter arrives with Li Er’s silk scarf, which they recognize to mean that Han Shen and Li Er are together. Lan Er’s face falls when Tian Guang mentions that the scarf was a love token from Jing Ke to Li Er. Han Shen’s letter says that he is bringing Li Er out of the palace and to let Jing Ke know.
Ying Zheng tells Chancellor Lu that he has heard about the visits from Chu. He came to Luoyang City to see Chancellor Lu and find out what he plans to do. He also threatens to dismiss and kill all of Chancellor Lu’s retainers, since they are useless to Qin given their loyalty to him. Chancellor Lu seems very sincere when he tells Ying Zheng that he doesn’t intend to become a minister for any of the other states because he is loyal to Qin, and he is willing to give up his retainers and return to Qin alone. Given what he knows about the Chancellor, Ying Zheng tells Chancellor Lu that he doesn’t believe him but Chancellor Lu tells him that even though he’s schemed in the past, there isn’t much that he hasn’t enjoyed and all he wants now is for Ying Zheng to unite and rule the world.
Ying Zheng looks like he’s been convinced by Chancellor Lu’s words, but just then, a crowd of retainers outside congratulate Chancellor Lu on becoming a minister for Chu. They say that they are willing to follow Chancellor Lu anywhere. Ying Zheng is now furious and refuses to believe Chancellor Lu who tries to explain that there’s been a misunderstanding.
Ying Zheng says that he’s made up his mind and won’t allow Chancellor Lu to return to Xianyang City. He will spare his life, but he’s to go into exile and they will never meet again. Chancellor Lu looks devastated. That absolutely sucked. I believe that Chancellor Lu was sincere here, and it would have been nice to see a reunion between him, Ying Zheng, and the Queen Dowager. This was obviously a set up by Li Si, and I can’t believe Ying Zheng bought into it.
Li Er has made plans to leave the palace, and gives Qing Er a hairpin as a parting gift even though Qing Er believes it to just be a normal gift and is very thankful. When all the servants have been dismissed, Han Shen arrives and gives Li Er a palace guard uniform to change into. The two pick up Tian Ming, but when they do, Tian Ming starts crying and it brings the attention of Tian Ming’s nurse and the palace guards.
It turns out that after Tian Ming disappeared, Ying Zheng substantially increased the number of palace guards watching over Tian Ming to prevent it from happening again. Li Er and Han Shen realize that it’s going to be impossible to leave the palace with Tian Ming, and decide that they have to go on their own. Li Er is unwilling to leave Tian Ming behind, but Han Shen says that they have to leave now and promises her that he will come back for Tian Ming. That convinces Li Er and they leave. Ying Zheng is going to go out of his mind when he finds out Li Er has left the palace.
Thanks everyone for reading!
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