I really don’t know what the drama writers were thinking when they wrote this storyline of Li Er leaving the palace, because none of it makes sense to me. At least it isn’t being dragged out and Li Er is on her way back to the palace by the end of the episode. I’ve left my thoughts in the comments section below, mostly to vent. Here is the recap everyone!
Both with blindfolds on, Jing Ke and Li Er perform their paired sword technique while Han Shen and Lan Er look on smiling. These scenes are visually really pretty, and the routine is as good as if they aren’t blindfolded. The music pairing is nice too. The thoughts of Jing Ke and Li Er play over the scenes; Jing Ke: “Martial arts sister, I only understood after you left, why you once hoped to go away and leave the world behind.” Li Er: “Given how troublesome the world is, we can’t go off and live for ourselves. Martial arts brother, I don’t want to harm your future.” Jing Ke: “I don’t care. You are more important than the sword technique and fame.” Li Er: “Martial arts brother, we are not the Jing Ke and Li Er of the past anymore.”
There’s a pause in the routine, and Jing Ke uses his sword to remove the scarf from Li Er’s eyes. I’m impressed that he was able to do that blindfolded. We have flashbacks through the moments they shared together in the past – the last time they performed the paired sword technique, Jing Ke getting stabbed to protect Li Er, him buying the scarf for her and her showing him the drawing she made.
In a pretty abrupt cut, we go to the palace prison where Zhao Gao continues to interrogate Qing Er for information on Li Er’s disappearance. Madam Min has come to the prison to quietly observe from a distance. Qing Er insists that she is innocent, but Zhao Gao won’t believe her and is about to resume using torture when Madam Min steps in. Thank goodness.
Zhao Gao asks her why she’s come, and Madam Min says: “Yongxiang is a part of the Qin palace. I haven’t escaped the palace, have I?” Sassy. She orders for Qing Er’s binds to be released. When Zhao Gao tries to make excuses, Madam Min tells him that Li Er’s disappearance is still a mystery, and if she was actually abducted or framed, then the King may punish Zhao Gao for his behavior. Madam Min “advises” Zhao Gao to cease and then dismisses everyone from the room. I like her now.
Qing Er thanks Madam Min for her help, but Madam Min tells Qing Er that the King is on his way back to the palace, and if Li Er does not return soon, she worries that Qing Er will still be punished. Qing Er tells Madam Min that she really doesn’t have any information on Li Er, and then passes out.
Li Er, Jing Ke, and Lan Er are preparing to eat when Han Shen returns with the news of Chancellor Lu’s suicide. I think Han Shen is the designated ‘news gatherer’ of the group. The rest of them can’t believe it and ask what happened. Rumors say that Ying Zheng ordered Chancellor Lu’s exile to Shu state, and that it has caused him to lose all hope and kill himself. Han Shen suspects that maybe it wasn’t suicide, and actually Ying Zheng ordered Chancellor Lu to drink poison. Jing Ke says that Ying Zheng is cruel and detestable for ordering Chancellor Lu’s death when he served Qin for so many years.
When Li Er remains silent, Jing Ke asks her what’s wrong. Li Er defends Ying Zheng – she doesn’t think he would’ve killed Chancellor Lu because he was Ying Zheng’s real father. Jing Ke argues that Ying Zheng even killed his two younger brothers, and again, Li Er speaks on his behalf to say that they were the illegitimate sons of his mother and Duke Chang Xin and that Ying Zheng really wasn’t close to them. Ying Zheng has always been surrounded by people who were just using him, including his mother, Chancellor Lu, and the Grand Dowager, and that he never had anyone who really cared about him.
Jing Ke can’t believe that Li Er is defending Ying Zheng, and says that now that she’s been at Ying Zheng’s side for one year, she understands him more than anyone. This back and forth exchange has caused things to become very awkward, which Han Shen tries to diffuse the tension by saying that Li Er was only sharing what she saw in the palace. Li Er tells everyone that she didn’t mean to spoil the mood and to forget what she said. Meanwhile, Jing Ke is still stunned and upset.
Ying Zheng is back in the palace and he’s furious. He has gathered all of Li Er’s palace maids and guards in front of him at the royal court, and everyone is completely terrified. Sure enough, Ying Zheng calls the palace guard in charge of Li Er’s residence forward and orders him to kill himself. When the guard begs for mercy and can’t bring himself to commit suicide, Ying Zheng threatens to kill his entire family. When the guard still hesitates, Ying Zheng takes Li Zhong’s sword and kills the guard himself, that‘s how angry he is. OMG. Even Li Zhong seems shocked.
Ying Zheng orders the guard’s entire family be killed anyway since the guard not only failed to watch over Li Er but also disobeyed his order. It’s horrible. Li Er created a huge mess leaving the palace the way she did. She knows how Ying Zheng is, and must’ve known that she would be putting people in harm’s way by leaving, and yet she left anyways.
Ying Zheng turns his fury on Zhao Gao next and tells him to pick up the sword. Zhao Gao panics and tries to say that he’s been interrogating the maids and guards since discovering Li Er’s disappearance, but there haven’t been any clues and that he’s willing to die if it would bring Li Er back to the palace. Ying Zheng tells him to stop babbling and pick up the sword.
Li Zhong steps saying that if Zhao Gao were to die, it might be even more difficult to find Li Er. Ying Zheng decides that this makes sense, and tells Zhao Gao that he’ll spare his life for now. Nonetheless, he still plans to kill Zhao Gao if Li Er isn’t found. Looks like Ying Zheng trusts Li Zhong and values his advice. I like Li Zhong – he’s obviously very loyal to Ying Zheng, but he looks at each situation rationally and gives his honest opinion.
Li Er comes to talk with Lan Er who was hunting in the woods, saying that they have been apart for so long. Li Er asks Lan Er if she has anyone she likes, because she cares about Lan Er’s marriage and happiness and truly sees her as a younger sister. When Lan Er says that she doesn’t have thoughts of getting married, Li Er asks her if it’s because she already has someone she’s interested in (obviously not knowing that it’s her martial arts brother that Lan Er is interested in).
Lan Er says that if she likes someone, it doesn’t matter if he likes her. It’s enough that she can be at his side and take care of him. As Lan Er goes on, it dawns on Li Er that Jing Ke is the one who Lan Er likes, and she tells herself that she won’t let Lan Er wait forever to be with the one she loves.
Han Shen and Jing Ke walk through the woods and have their own conversation about what happened back at the inn. Han Shen tries to explain to Jing Ke that when Li Er was in the palace, there were people constantly listening in so she wasn’t able to speak freely. Jing Ke says he doesn’t think Li Er is the same as before, that she’s not as cheerful and it seems like she’s hiding something. It makes his heart feel uneasy.
Han Shen says that Li Er’s had to go through a lot since she entered the palace a year ago, but Jing Ke can’t understand how Li Er could’ve forgotten about Puyang City and has now become Ying Zheng’s defender. Han Shen tells Jing Ke that Li Er has her difficulties and she’ll tell Jing Ke about them when the time is right.
Ying Zheng is having a tantrum back in the palace because it’s been a day and Li Er still hasn’t been found. Li Zhong reports the day’s progress – General Meng has sent 1,000 soldiers to search the border between Qin and Wei, and there are 500 soldiers searching outside Xianyang City. He says that any news will be reported immediately.
Ying Zheng says that he doesn’t believe Li Er is the type of woman who would leave her son behind, since she stayed in the palace even though it was a heavy burden for her, all for Tian Ming. Ying Zheng contemplates that perhaps Li Er was abducted, or that there was an unexpected incident for her to leave Tian Ming behind. He orders Li Zhong to make sure that Tian Ming and his nurse are under constant guard, and only by Li Zhong’s most trusted people. Given how heavily guarded the palace is, he doesn’t believe that Li Er escaped the palace by herself, because if she could’ve left, she would’ve left a year ago. He thinks that someone helped Li Er leave the palace, and that person must be from inside the palace. Uh oh. Camera pan right to Han Shen, ha.
The gang are seated around a fire cooking a rabbit that Lan Er had hunted. Li Er and Lan Er talk about how happy they were to have found each other and become sisters. Li Er tells Lan Er not to forget her, which Lan Er says is impossible because they won’t ever be apart in the future. Li Er just says that when people miss each other, they can look up at the moon and they will have their memories. Han Shen tells the group that he heard that there are already soldiers leaving Xianyang City searching for Li Er. Lan Er suggests that they go to Taihan Mountain where her father has a place they can stay. Jing Ke readily agrees to Lan Er’s suggestion because of the advantages in living in the mountains.
When it looks like a plan has been made, Li Er stands and tells the others that she won’t be going because she plans to return to Xianyang City. Lan Er and Jing Ke can’t believe it, and they don’t understand why Li Er would return when it was so difficult for her to escape and for them to be reunited. Li Er tells them that she’s been keeping something from them – that she had a child with Ying Zheng. Han Shen is shocked at Li Er’s lie that her child is Ying Zheng’s and tries to interject, but Li Er cuts him off. Jing Ke and Lan Er are shocked and can’t believe it. Li Er tells them that she has to go back to the palace because of her son and apologizes for deceiving them.
Jing Ke is furious and says that he wants to kill Ying Zheng for what he has done to Li Er. Li Er tells him that he can’t – Ying Zheng is her child’s father, and a child can’t not have a father. Jing Ke asks Li Er if she’s forgotten the grudges that they have against Qin and her grandfather’s wish that they protect the world. Li Er says that she hasn’t forgotten anything, but she’s unfilial and that she won’t be able to fulfill her grandfather’s wish. Jing Ke tells her to leave at once.
Li Er tells them to take care and leaves, and Lan Er runs after her. Li Er tells Lan Er that she has to go back to the palace for the sake of her son and for her martial arts brother. Lan Er tries to tell her that even if she had a child with Ying Zheng, they can still bring the child out from the palace and that they can help her take care of him. Li Er says that they now have separate destinies, but wherever they are, they are under the same moon. Lan Er tries to tell Li Er that they can work together to solve any difficulties that Li Er has, but Li Er just tells Lan Er to go and love bravely, and that she will always want her to be happy. Lan Er tries to hold on to Li Er, but Li Er walks away.
Jing Ke realizes that Han Shen must’ve known all along that Li Er had a child with Ying Zheng. Although Han Shen tries to tell him that he’s misunderstood, Jing Ke is hurt and angry and says that they gave him hope and then took it away, and they’ve been deceiving him this whole time. Han Shen goes after Li Er to bring her back.
It’s obviously tearing Li Er apart as she cries and explains to Han Shen that since leaving the palace, she’s always intended to return. She says that given how powerful Qin is, it wouldn’t be a problem for Ying Zheng to chase them to the ends of the earth (which he would). She couldn’t bear to do that to Tian Ming, to have him go on the run at his young age. Li Er tells Han Shen that she couldn’t tell Jing Ke that Tian Ming is his child, because if he knew, he would definitely want to storm the palace to get back his son. They know how difficult and dangerous that is because of how heavily guarded the Qin palace is. If they tried to keep Jing Ke from storming the palace, it would be worse than death for him to be separated from his child.
Li Er tells Han Shen that she knows that Lan Er likes Jing Ke, and that it will be a good thing for Lan Er to be at Jing Ke’s side as she could help him master the Huluo sword technique and fulfill her grandfather’s wish. She makes Han Shen promise to keep her secret. Han Shen tells Li Er that he thought that bringing her out of the palace would be a good thing, but it ended up bringing her more pain and suffering. Han Shen says that he knew Lan Er liked Jing Ke, but he thought that it’s destiny for some people to live loving someone without being loved back, that as long as they can be by that person’s side, it’s enough.
In the palace, Zhao Gao tells an underling to go and investigate who has recently taken vacation from the palace, including troops and guards. Uh oh. Han Shen’s going to be found out for sure. He says that before, Li Er caused trouble for him by ruining his plans and they can use this opportunity to teach her a lesson. Li Er has a long list of enemies in the palace.
The next morning, Han Shen wakes up to find Li Er has gone. She left a note in the dirt for Han Shen, telling him that she has gone back to the palace alone and that she doesn’t believe Ying Zheng would harm her. She tells him to never to go back to the palace, and if he wishes, to look after Jing Ke for her. She tells him not to miss her. Han Shen doesn’t take this well.
The Grand Dowager and Madam Chu talk about Chancellor Lu’s suicide, and how they did not anticipate that he would kill himself. All of his retainers have also been ordered to leave Qin. They discuss and plot who to align with at the royal court to help their home state of Chu. They think of Li Si, who was also from Chu and start making arrangements to bring him over to their side.
Jing Ke still stews over finding out that Li Er has a child with Ying Zheng. Lan Er tries to tell him that Li Er must’ve had difficulties that she could not share with them, but Jing Ke doesn’t care. He says that Li Er didn’t choose to stay with him and returned to Ying Zheng instead, and that’s all he needs to know. Han Shen arrives, and Jing Ke hits him. Yikes! Jing Ke asks Han Shen why he’s returned, and Han Shen tells him that Li Er asked him to look after Jing Ke. Jing Ke says that he’s not a child, and he doesn’t need anyone to look after him. Han Shen tells him that no matter what, Li Er did what she did for him. Jing Ke’s very angry that Li Er has chosen to trust Ying Zheng over him, and he asks Han Shen if he’s really been staying in the palace for a year just to protect Li Er.
Thanks everyone for reading!
Comments: I am really annoyed with Li Er leaving the palace because it was done so badly. I think the writers wanted a reunion between Li Er, Han Shen, Jing Ke and Lan Er before the drama moved on to Ying Zheng and Li Er, but it was not handled well. Li Er is supposed to be an honorable and kind person who always thinks of others, but she left Tian Ming behind and left her maids and guards to deal with the consequences of her actions. She must’ve known what was going to happen because everyone knows Ying Zheng’s personality, and how furious he would surely be when he finds out that she left. Because of her, a guard was killed and all of her maids were tortured harshly by Zhao Gao, especially Qing Er. Li Er leaving the palace the way she did was completely out of character for her, and it didn’t make any sense.
I also don’t think the writers properly explained why Li Er left the palace either, especially because it seems like she left with the mindset that she will return. If she did it because she wanted to see Jing Ke for old time’s sake, then it was really selfish because all she did was give false hope to Jing Ke and Lan Er that they could always be together, and now they’re more hurt than ever.
If it was so that she could see Jing Ke and convince him to move on with his life by telling him that she has a child with Ying Zheng, then that makes a bit more sense, but it wasn’t really made obvious.
This episode makes it clear that Li Er and Jing Ke are no longer the same people that they were. A year ago, Jing Ke and Li Er shared the same sentiments when it came to Ying Zheng and vowed to protect the world from Qin. Jing Ke‘s mind has never changed, and if anything, his anger and determination to kill Ying Zheng has only grown. However, Li Er has changed as she’s starting to sympathize with Ying Zheng after understanding him and knowing how he grew up. It feels like they are now very far apart, and that it’s not possible to turn back the clock.