As you all probably already know, The King’s Woman finished airing a week ago (watch it here). I thought people might be more interested in knowing how the drama ends instead of waiting and reading recaps one episode at a time, so I decided to write a recap for the last episode. I think I went a little picture crazy, but I hope you enjoy it.
My overall impression was that I enjoyed watching it, and I looked forward to the new episodes every week. The drama kept me engaged until the end, whereas I have stopped watching other dramas before because they became boring. I did like many of the storylines, and I really liked the cast so that was motivation enough to keep going. Although some of the script writing didn’t live up to expectations, I’ll miss the drama and the main characters who all did a great job. The behind the scenes videos are so cute (you can find them on YouTube).
I like the picture above of Li Er, Ying Zheng, and Jing Ke from when they were kids because I think this drama was ultimately the story of the three of them. To me, their destinies had become intertwined from the moment Jing Ke and Li Er rescued Ying Zheng. The aspirations and ideals the three of them had as kids truly seemed to stay the same as they became adults – a young girl training in martial arts who hated wars and wanted nothing more than world peace, a young boy who wanted to develop martial arts skills like his Master and to use those skills to help others, and another young boy whose wish was completely different from the other two; he wanted to grow up having everyone fear him as his way to protect those close to him.
Before getting to the recap for the last episode, I wanted to mention some key events that happened. To start with, several people have died since I left off in episode 31. The Grand Dowager died (it was just mentioned in passing). Ying Zheng discovered that Chancellor Lu was alive when Qin attacked and invaded Zhao and killed him using his sword. Yep. He killed his real father. The Queen Dowager passed away after Ying Zheng and her relationship improved, and he forgave her for what happened in the past. She died in Handan City in Zhao, as she had always wanted. Ying Zheng seemed genuinely torn up over his mother’s death. He wasted so much time being angry at her. Madam Min committed suicide after she couldn’t bring herself to kill her old lover, the King of Zhao. We know it’s getting close to the end of the drama when everyone starts dying off.
Han Shen found out Jing Ke’s plans to assassinate Ying Zheng. To stop him, Han Shen revealed the secret he and Li Er had been hiding for years – that even though Tian Ming is being raised as a prince in the Qin palace, Jing Ke is his real father. He tells Jing Ke that Ying Zheng knows the truth, and if he really goes to kill Ying Zheng, it will put both Li Er and Tian Ming in grave danger. It doesn’t matter whether he is successful or not – he must not go. As you would expect, Jing Ke is overwhelmed and stunned at learning that Tian Ming is really his son, but he says that it’s already too late to turn back. General Fan gave up his life so that Jing Ke could take his head to Qin as a peace offering from Yan. Yan Dan is also counting on him to kill Ying Zheng.
That brings us up to about episode 43, where we see Ying Zheng and Li Er in a very loving and caring relationship. A few episodes before, we saw Li Er confess to Han Shen that she has really fallen in love with Ying Zheng. There have been another couple of instances where Li Er put herself in harm’s way to save Ying Zheng’s life, once in Han and once in Zhao. Ying Zheng also finally told her that they have known each other since they were children and she saved his life in Zhao. He told her that he’s known who she was since they met in Luoyang City, but never told her because he didn’t want her to pity him. He promises to love her and treat her well the rest of his life.
We find out that Tian Ming is now nine years old and Li Er has been living in the Qin palace for 10 years. When asked to consider naming a Crown Prince, Ying Zheng tells Li Er that he wants Tian Ming to be the Crown Prince. Li Er opposes the idea immediately – the Crown Prince is an extremely dangerous position to be in, and she doesn’t want that for her son. Li Er only wishes for her and Tian Ming to live peacefully, which was the same reason she opposed Ying Zheng naming her as Queen. If Tian Ming were to be named Crown Prince, he would be thrown into the dangerous struggles at the inner palace. Tian Ming doesn’t have the support of the court officials to be named Crown Prince the way that Ying Zheng’s eldest son, Fusu, does.
Li Er says that Tian Ming doesn’t have the desire to be Crown Prince. He just wants to get along with everyone. Sounds just like his mother. Li Er is the opposite of the usual royal consorts who are always scheming and plotting for themselves and their children. Li Er brings up another point, which, to be honest, was the first one I thought of – Tian Ming is not a true member of the Ying family. Ying Zheng tells her that it doesn’t matter – he doesn’t have the blood of the Ying family either. He tells Li Er that he wishes for Tian Ming to become Crown Prince because with the position comes the ability to protect Li Er from harm. Li Er says that if naming Tian Ming as Crown Prince is just to protect her, then she definitely doesn’t want it. Ying Zheng pulls Li Er close to him, and it seems like the matter is put aside for now. It was really sweet watching this scene, it makes you think that Ying Zheng loves Tian Ming as his own son, that it doesn’t matter to him that Jing Ke is Tian Ming’s biological father.
During the years that have gone by, Chu Liang Ren has grown a lot more mature. After Li Er talked to Ying Zheng on Chu Liang Ren’s behalf and had her position of Madam restored, Madam Chu realized that Madam Min was the one hurting her the most, and Li Er is really a kind person. Meanwhile, Li Si discovers and reports to Ying Zheng that someone has been secretly sharing information with Chu. It turns out to have been Lord Chang Ping. It was never mentioned before that Lord Chang Ping was from Chu, but okay, whatever. Since what he’s done is treason and punishable by death, Lord Chang Ping asks Madam Chu to take the fall instead, which – are you kidding me? Lord Chang Ping tells Madam Chu that between the two of them, it is better that he continues to live because he is in the better position to help their home state, Chu. Madam Chu’s deepest desire is to help her home state. She comes to realize that Lord Chang Ping is not wrong, so she agrees.
Before Madam Chu can confess, she meets with Li Er to have tea. They’ve grown a lot closer and get along extremely well. Li Er even calls Madam Chu, ‘Elder Sister’. She asks Li Er for forgiveness for the things she’s done in the past, and Li Er tells her that she understands what is in Madam Chu’s heart and forgives her. Madam Chu becomes emotional when she warns Li Er that no matter how well Ying Zheng treats her, she needs to make sure to leave a way out for herself. She shouldn’t always believe him, because he has never fully trusted anyone. He has many hidden secrets in his heart, and he’s willing to sacrifice anything or anyone to achieve his goals. It doesn’t matter if it is a consort, a subject or a family member. Li Er realizes that something must be very wrong for Madam Chu to be talking this way, but Madam Chu doesn’t reveal anything. All of this makes me so sad.
Madam Chu goes to see Ying Zheng and admits to leaking classified information to Chu. Ying Zheng already knows that the one responsible is Lord Chang Ping, but even though he knows the truth, he tells Madam Chu that to him, Lord Chang Ping is in fact more useful than she is. He tells her that he was never able to trust her because she was always the Grand Dowager’s person, not his. He arranges for Madam Chu to commit suicide as punishment for the crime, so she hangs herself. This is horrible. Poor Madam Chu!
Han Shen returns to Xianyang City and bribes Zhao Gao into letting him into the palace so he can see Li Er. Li Er is thrilled, but he’s there to let her know that Jing Ke is the envoy that Yan is sending to Qin to kill Ying Zheng. Han Shen tells Li Er that she and Tian Ming have to leave the palace. It’s too dangerous for them to remain, regardless of whether Jing Ke is successful or not. If Jing Ke kills Ying Zheng, Li Er’s enemies will take the opportunity to come after her. If he fails, Ying Zheng will set out to destroy Yan. Because Tian Ming is Jing Ke’s son, he will not be safe from Ying Zheng’s wrath. Li Er is shocked when Han Shen tells her that he had to tell Jing Ke the truth about Tian Ming being his son. Li Er doesn’t appear willing to leave because of her feelings for Ying Zheng, and Han Shen reminds Li Er of just how many deaths can be attributed back to Ying Zheng.
Li Er agonizes over what she should do next. Meanwhile, Ying Zheng’s people tell him that Jing Ke is coming to Qin as Yan’s envoy. Ying Zheng already knows the real reason why Jing Ke is coming and he is determined to kill Jing Ke as payback for taking away the woman he loves. That’s not how I remember it. Ying Zheng was the one who broke Jing Ke and Li Er apart by force. He left Li Er no choice but to enter the palace after he had Jing Ke poisoned.
Li Er overhears everything and finally learns what Ying Zheng’s true intentions are, which he’s been purposely keeping from her all this time. The real reason that Ying Zheng wants to name Tian Ming as Crown Prince is because when he does, it will become impossible for Tian Ming to ever leave Qin. Thus, Li Er will always have to stay by his side. He knows that Li Er can’t be persuaded by the same things as his other consorts – power, position or money – but Tian Ming is the most important person in the world to Li Er.
Li Er realizes that to Ying Zheng, Tian Ming is just a pawn, a tool to be used to keep her by his side. Even after so many years, Ying Zheng still does not fully trust her. She realizes how foolish she’s been. I am so disappointed to see that Ying Zheng hasn’t grown or changed at all. He’s just as selfish and domineering as ever, and he is still scheming and plotting ways to make sure Li Er doesn’t leave him. This is how he repays her after all she’s done for him?
Unfortunately, it gets worse. Much worse. Ying Zheng tell Li Zhong that his other reason for naming Tian Ming Crown Prince is to force his eldest son, Fusu, to stop being so kind and gentle. After Tian Ming becomes Crown Prince, Fusu will have to toughen up and fight for the position. Ying Zheng wants Fusu and Tian Ming to fight each other for his favor, which will prepare and build up Fusu so Ying Zheng can name him as Crown Prince one day.
Li Er starts to fall apart, and she starts crying silently. Poor Li Er. I feel so sorry for her. I think it’s good though that she’s finding out just what is really in Ying Zheng’s heart. Ying Zheng knows that many of his court officials support Fusu for Crown Prince, and they will look for opportunities to bring Tian Ming down. If any fault is found with Tian Ming, not only will he be pulled down from his position, it will even be difficult for him to hold on to his life. Omg. WTF. Li Er is completely crushed as she realizes that Ying Zheng was just pretending to love Tian Ming.
Ying Zheng says that it’s never stopped bothering him that Tian Ming is Li Er’s son with Jing Ke. He plans to kill Jing Ke when he comes to Qin because as long as he lives, there will always be a place for him in Li Er’s heart. Li Er is reminded that when she first entered the palace and Ying Zheng found out she was pregnant, he wanted the physician to kill her baby. He even put a sword to her throat.
This is so upsetting. After being the only father that Tian Ming has ever known, Ying Zheng is actually plotting Tian Ming’s downfall and death. This really ruins all the father-son bonding moments between Ying Zheng and Tian Ming, because now we know none of it was real. What’s terrible is that Ying Zheng knows that Li Er, being from a ruined state and not having any family, does not have any power or support at court and won’t be able to do anything to help her son, so he actually intends for Li Er to witness her son’s life be ruined.
Li Er is heartbroken and devastated as she recalls the time when Ying Zheng almost choked her for mentioning that Jing Ke was her child’s father. Madam Chu’s parting words also ring in her ears. When Ying Zheng arrives, Li Er pretends that everything is fine, which seems like the smartest move. He pulls her close and tells her that he’s started preparations for Tian Ming to be named the Crown Prince. She goes along with him even though she knows that he’s just continuing to lie to her. Ying Zheng rests his head on her shoulder. Damn it, Ying Zheng, get away from her. She promises to herself that she won’t let Tian Ming become Ying Zheng’s pawn. Ying Zheng is basically doing exactly what he wants despite Li Er’s concerns about Tian Ming being named Crown Prince. Jerk.
Li Er decides to do what she must to protect Tian Ming and asks for Ying Zheng’s permission to take Tian Ming outside the palace. Han Shen recently came back to the city, and she would like for Han Shen and Tian Ming to see each other. You can see the distrust in their relationship as they lie and withhold from each other. Outside the palace, Han Shen and Li Er have arranged a fake ambush to distract the palace guards. Once they were alone, Li Er tells Tian Ming that his real father is Jing Ke, and he must grow up to be as chivalrous as his father. She tells him that from now on, they won’t be able to live together anymore, and he has to go and live with Han Shen. Tian Ming doesn’t want to leave her and sobs, but Li Er is insistent. She tells Han Shen that she cannot leave with them, and thanks Han Shen for everything he has done for her. She breaks down sobbing as they leave.
Ying Zheng comes to see Li Er to ask what has happened. Where is Tian Ming, and why won’t she let him send soldiers after Tian Ming? Li Er tells him that she asked Han Shen to take Tian Ming away. He is furious and flips over a plate on the table. He demands to know why because usually Li Er wouldn’t want to be separated from Tian Ming for even half a step. Ying Zheng is just angry because now he doesn’t have Tian Ming as a way of keeping Li Er by his side. Which, good.
Li Er tells him that she knows that the envoy coming from Yan is her martial arts brother, Jing Ke. Ying Zheng looks ready to kill someone, he’s so angry. He says,“Tian Ming’s real father. Right?” Li Er: “Tian Ming is my child. I have to protect him.” Ying Zheng says that he’s known all along that Yan Dan and Jing Ke have been plotting to kill him. He says that he‘s willing to do anything for Li Er and Tian Ming, and he is furious that Li Er didn’t turn to him to protect Tian Ming. If she was so worried about Tian Ming’s safety, he could’ve sent Tian Ming out of the palace, as he had done years before. Li Er stands up and faces Ying Zheng before she tells him to stop lying to her. She tells Ying Zheng that he’s known for a long time that Jing Ke was going to come to Qin, and he plans to use this opportunity to kill him as well as Tian Ming. She calls him out for lying to her this whole time. Ying Zheng screams that Jing Ke wants to assassinate him.
In the face of Ying Zheng’s outburst, Li Er kneels and begs for Tian Ming and Jing Ke’s lives. She promises that she will stay with Ying Zheng forever, that she won‘t go anywhere if he agrees to her request. Ying Zheng touches her face and says, “Li Er. Do you know how much I love you? I love you, and I want to share the world with you. You’ve never understood.” He pushes her aside and starts walking away. He tells her that after all this time, she still doesn’t know what he wants and actually still hopes to protect her martial arts brother. Ying Zheng promises her that he will personally kill Jing Ke in front of everyone. I think that Li Er is a person who deeply treasures her relationships and even though she loves Ying Zheng, she could never turn her back on Jing Ke and not care whether he lives or dies.
Li Er crawls over to him and begs him again. That if he wants to punish someone, punish her instead. Ying Zheng: “Shut up!” He yanks her up and tells her that Tian Ming is his son, the one he wants to name Crown Prince. No one has the right to take him away. He tells her to watch, because he will stop at nothing to get him back. He pushes her away and storms out, leaving Li Er to cry out after him as she bursts into tears. What the hell. This is not how a normal relationship works. She shouldn’t have to beg him like this, and he shouldn’t treat her this way. Ying Zheng meets with Wind Forest Fire Mountain, and orders them to go out and find Han Shen and Tian Ming. He orders them to bring Tian Ming back and kill anyone who gets in their way.
Meanwhile, Jing Ke, Lan Er, and a third member of their team have arrived in Xianyang City. Li Er asks Qing Er to deliver a letter to Jing Ke so that they can meet. She brings her scarf to the meeting, and what ensues is a very emotional reunion. Li Er and Jing Ke run into each other’s arms and hug each other tightly. Lan Er and Qing Er accompany them to the meeting, but they wait outside. Li Er tells Jing Ke that she had to keep Tian Ming’s identity a secret. If she and Tian Ming left with Jing Ke, Ying Zheng would’ve stopped at nothing to find them. She begs Jing Ke not to go and assassinate Ying Zheng, because it will end badly. She tells him that she’s already asked Han Shen to take Tian Ming away from the palace, so Jing Ke and Lan Er should live happily for the rest of their lives. She feels guilty that Tian Ming never met his real father. Jing Ke tells her that he has no choice, both General Fan and Tian Guang died for their cause, and their lives are on Jing Ke’s conscience now. Jing Ke pulls Li Er into a hug, and tells her that she’s the only woman he has ever loved. Aww. This is all so tragic. I feel sorry for Lan Er too.
When Li Er returns to the palace, she finds Ying Zheng on his way to see her. She greets him as if nothing happened, and Ying Zheng asks her where she’s been. She lies and tells him that she just went for a walk, nowhere important. Ying Zheng knows she’s not telling him everything, and Li Er doesn’t share anything further. They are locked in a standstill. Ying Zheng says that the envoys from Yan are due to arrive in a couple of days and orders for Li Er to be confined to her residence (for her safety, he says).
Meanwhile, Han Shen senses that he and Tian Ming are being followed as they run through the forest. He tells Tian Ming that they should play a game where he must go and hide. Sure enough, the four warriors of Wind Forest Fire Mountain appear and tell Han Shen to turn Tian Ming over to them immediately. Han Shen refuses, and they start to fight. As strong as Han Shen is, he doesn’t stand a chance against them and suffers serious injuries. Noooo.
Thankfully, Ge Nie and Lan Er arrive in time to help. While Ge Nie confronts the Wind Forest Fire Mountain, Han Shen sends Lan Er to find Tian Ming. Ge Nie defeats and kills the Wind Forest Fire Mountain by himself (wow, impressive). However, it’s too late for Han Shen because of his injuries. Before his death, Han Shen asks Ge Nie and Lan Er to look after Tian Ming. Damn it, I loved Han Shen. I wanted to see him alive at the end of the drama. In the palace, Li Er asks Qing Er to visit Jing Ke and give him a medicine that will knock him unconscious long enough to to miss the meeting with Ying Zheng the following day. Qing Er does as she’s told and visits Jing Ke with some food and drink. She also gives Li Er a drink to help her rest.
(Last Episode) Episode 48 begins as the big day arrives. Jing Ke and his companion head into the palace to meet with Ying Zheng, and as they walk through the palace grounds, Li Er wakes up in her residence. In the main hall, Ying Zheng stares Jing Ke and his companion down as they enter and approach him. Ying Zheng is determined for this day to be Jing Ke’s last. They carry with them General Fan’s head and a map which Yan is offering to Qin as part of their (fake) surrender. Li Er find her maids kneeling and bowing before her, pleading with her not to leave. Yeah, right. Li Er grabs her Gong Sun family sword and leaves, only to encounter a crowd of palace guards standing outside. They are there to stop her from leaving.
Jing Ke presents General Fan’s head and requests to approach Ying Zheng to present the map. Ying Zheng allows it. As Jing Ke unrolls the map, where he has hidden the knives he intends to use to kill Ying Zheng, Ying Zheng suddenly stops him. He tells Jing Ke that he knows what he is there for, and if he leaves now, Ying Zheng will allow him to live a carefree life. Jing Ke laughs and asks if Ying Zheng even knows what it means to live freely.
Jing Ke says that what he actually wants to show Ying Zheng is something else. He pulls out the drawing that Li Er made before she entered the palace. It’s a drawing of her and Jing Ke riding horses, visiting the beach, seeing the ocean and exploring mountains and rivers. Wow, Jing Ke held on to Li Er’s drawing for the last 10 years. As Jing Ke talks about the plans they had and how this is the life that Li Er wanted, Ying Zheng becomes angrier and angrier until it looks like he can barely hold it together. Jing Ke tells Ying Zheng that with him alive, no one in the world will be able to enjoy a peaceful, carefree life.
Ying Zheng has heard enough, and hekicks the table backwards, Jing Ke along with it. Jing Ke catches the knives in the map as they fly out. Impressive. As this happens, Ying Zheng’s guards kill Jing Ke’s companion and gather in front of him to block Jing Ke’s way. Ying Zheng has been thoroughly provoked and tells his guards to stand aside. He will take care of Jing Ke. As they start to fight, Jing Ke begins coughing up blood. Ying Zheng reveals that he has already had Jing Ke poisoned and he wonders how long Jing Ke can keep this up. What a dirty and underhanded trick. With Jing Ke poisoned, Ying Zheng is able to get the better of him and stabs him with his sword. Jing Ke tries to land one final attack, but Li Zhong jumps in front of Ying Zheng and gets killed instead. Ying Zheng takes the opportunity to stab Jing Ke again, and this time he seems too hurt to recover.
Meanwhile, Li Er encounters and fights numerous palace guards as she heads towards the main hall. Li Er is mostly successful, even though there are times where it seems like the guards will be able to stop her.
However, by the time Li Er arrives, she’s already too late. She sees Jing Ke lying on the ground, severely injured and close to dying. Ying Zheng stands over him, bloody sword in his hand.
Li Er stops the palace guards carrying Jing Ke out of the main hall. Jing Ke recognizes her, and Li Er cries as she apologizes for having arrived too late. I’m glad that they got to see each other one last time. Li Er closes his eyes and tells him to wait for her. This whole time, Ying Zheng had been watching, hurt and angry. He yells at his court officials to leave, and they do, scurrying out like rats abandoning a ship on fire.
Ying Zheng: “So you came after all. You must be wondering how your martial arts brother was able to come today after you arranged for him to be unconscious. Qing Er!” Oh, no. Ying Zheng tells Li Er that when she entered the palace, he arranged for Qing Er to be at her side. She actually reports to him, so he knows everything that she’s been hiding from him regarding her and Jing Ke. Li Er: “So that’s how it was….So that’s how it was. You‘ve never trusted me for one moment.”
Li Er asks Qing Er what she gave her martial arts brother, and Qing Er tells her that she poisoned him using what she received from Ying Zheng. This is so heartbreaking. Not only do we find out Ying Zheng only saw Tian Ming as a pawn, we also find out Qing Er was working for Ying Zheng this whole time. What a betrayal. Li Er: “So you used the unconsciousness medicine on me?” Ying Zheng: “That was me wanting to protect you. I didn’t want you to be sad, to have to witness your martial arts brother die.” Shut up, Ying Zheng. So tired of you and all your talk about not hurting Li Er. You’ve done some pretty horrible things to her. No matter what, Li Er would be a wreck at Jing Ke dying. Ying Zheng: “Li Er. I do love you.”
Li Er: “Now that you’ve accomplished what you wanted, it’s my turn to do what I must.” Ying Zheng: “So you’re saying, for your martial arts brother, you will kill me?” Li Er: “For the people of this world. For your goal of conquering the world, all the people you’ve killed, do you think I don’t know about it?” Ying Zheng: “You don’t understand. I’ve told you. War is only the method. My goal is world peace.” Li Er smiles wryly and says, “I don’t believe you.”
Ying Zheng: “So you will kill me?” Li Er: “Yes! My martial arts brother came today to kill you. Since he didn’t succeed, I will kill you in his place. King of Qin – you have to die.” Ying Zheng: “Okay. Since you’ve said you want to kill me, then using our swords, let’s end everything. Come on!” Li Er and Ying Zheng rush towards each other, swords ready to kill the other. At the last moment, Li Er turns her sword around and hits Ying Zheng with the hilt of her sword. That happens at the same time Ying Zheng stabs her with his sword. OMG.
I didn‘t see that coming. We see flashbacks of the moments that Ying Zheng and Li Er shared. I think Li Er still really loves Ying Zheng, so she couldn’t bring herself to kill him. And I can‘t believe Ying Zheng actually stabbed Li Er. I don’t see how he could constantly talk about how much he loves her, and then stab her like this. Ying Zheng takes Li Er in his arms and asks her why she did that. Li Er: “I came up with this method, for you to kill the person you love most, you will understand how it feels to lose the person you love most.” Ying Zheng: “Don’t say anything more. I understand now.” Li Er: “Only if you understand the people, will you be a good King.” Li Er dies as Ying Zheng cries. Nooooo.
Ying Zheng walks out of the hall completely distraught. He kneels and yells to the sky.
We next see Ying Zheng on the same mountaintop where he, Li Er, and Jing Ke had gone to look at the moon when they were kids. It was there that they made their wishes to the moon, sealing them by taking turns drinking the wine that Jing Ke brought. Ying Zheng now stands on the mountaintop drinking wine all alone as he remembers. He looks over and sees young Li Er and Jing Ke looking back at him. They disappear and he is left to stand all by himself as he cries. The End.
Thank you everyone for reading!
Final Impressions: I think I would have been more upset with the tragic ending except that from the beginning, it felt like their relationship was ill-fated. Ying Zheng and Li Er were such different people, their personalities and ideals were polar opposites. Even though they shared a lot of really sweet moments, it never felt like they were that compatible and that they really belonged together. Not like couples in other dramas.
Li Er: I really liked Li Er in this drama. She had great qualities – smart, brave, strong, and very capable. She was always a kindhearted person as well, even when others would treat her badly. She was a person who put a lot of importance on relationships and never turned her back on those she cared about even if it meant putting herself in harm’s way. She did so over and over again for Ying Zheng. I think from beginning to end she always stayed true to who she was.
It look a long time for Li Er to come to love Ying Zheng, but after she fell in love with him, she put her whole heart into it. It was because she loved him that she was willing to see things from his point of view and trust that he was doing the right thing in conquering the world. It must’ve been difficult for her to move past how her family members died and how her home state was destroyed by Qin. I think that what happened with Madam Chu and hearing how Ying Zheng truly felt about Tian Ming made Li Er finally see the light and wake up to what kind of person Ying Zheng really is. I don’t think she ever would’ve been able to go back to the way things were especially after Ying Zheng killed Jing Ke.
Ultimately, meeting Ying Zheng ruined Li Er’s life. When I think of what could have been, it just makes me sad. I wish she could have lived to see Tian Ming grow up to adulthood as she had wanted. I’m glad that she’s at least free from all of this mess. I don’t think Ying Zheng is ever going to find another woman as amazing as her, and he didn’t deserve her – she was too good for him.
Ying Zheng: As I watched this drama, I really tried to like Ying Zheng and to root for him and Li Er. Honestly though, it was really difficult because he did a lot of things that bothered me from the very beginning. He always seemed extra ruthless and extra violent, more than what the situation called for. Even though he went through a lot as a child, it’s not like his life was super difficult. He was born into royalty, he never had to worry about the basics of survival. Compared to a lot of people, he lived a sheltered and pampered life, and he had all the privilege and prestige anyone could ever want. The people around him scrambled to fulfill his every wish and he got used to getting exactly what he wanted. It made him arrogant, selfish, and possessive.
He claimed to love Li Er, but he hurt her so badly, I don’t know if I would even call it love. I know I’m bringing another drama into it, but compared to Ye Hua of Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Ying Zheng was not a good guy. Ye Hua was willing to bring back Mo Yuan because he thought Bai Qian loved him, and he wanted her to be happy. On the other hand, Ying Zheng forced Li Er into entering the palace when it was the last thing she wanted, effectively separating her from everyone and everything she loved. He made her fight Meng Wu because he wanted her to have a miscarriage, he held a sword to her neck, and he tried to choke her. He separated Li Er from her own son so she would have no choice but to stay by his side.
I was almost done with Ying Zheng when he let Li Si whip Li Er after he found out that she was the one who helped Yan Dan escape from Qin. Li Er was left with serious injuries, and there’s no excuse for doing that, especially towards someone he claims to love. I almost wanted to root for them again since they shared a lot of sweet moments after that, but the last straw was finding out what he planned to do to Tian Ming. It was an utter betrayal of Li Er’s love and trust. I couldn’t believe that to the very end, he kept saying that he loved Li Er, because I don’t think so. He killed her! He still didn’t know her after 10 years together to believe that she would kill him. Even if he thought she was going to kill him, he was actually willing to kill her too. Jerk.
I was really sad and upset that we lost Li Er, but I don’t really care that Ying Zheng ended up alone. It was all his own doing. He was absolutely right when he said that it was his destiny to end up alone. He was always so suspicious, distrusting and manipulative that of course, he lost everyone close to him. Chengjiao, his mother, his father and finally, Li Er, the person he said he loved most. I remember thinking before the last episode that if Ying Zheng threatened to harm Tian Ming, I could understand why Li Er would kill him. I can see why it would bother Ying Zheng that Tian Ming is Li Er and Jing Ke’s son together, but it would have been at least six years since Jing Ke and Li Er saw each other. Ying Zheng and Li Er went through so much together during that time.
Jing Ke: There were times that I found Jing Ke annoying especially when he couldn’t stop drinking after Li Er left him. His storylines were also more boring compared to the others’, but I do feel really bad for him. He was collateral damage in Ying Zheng’s plan to have Li Er. If not for Ying Zheng, he and Li Er would have been very happy together since they both had feelings for each other.
I understand where he was coming from and why he did what he did. For him, it was always about fulfilling Li Er’s grandfather’s hopes for him to excel in martial arts and help the world. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t give up trying to assassinate Ying Zheng because he would be doing something good if he had succeeded. It was awful that he lost the love of his life and never met his son. He died so tragically.
Han Shen: I loved Han Shen. I thought he was a great and honorable guy, and I was so sad and upset when he died. I really wanted him to make it to the end of the drama. I was hoping that he, Lan Er, and Ge Nie would raise Tian Ming and they could be happy. Damn Ying Zheng and his warriors.
Between Han Shen, Ying Zheng, and Jing Ke, I would have liked it if Han Shen and Li Er ended up together. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be because Li Er didn’t have those kind of feelings for him. Han Shen always stood up for and protected Li Er no matter the situation, and I liked how what mattered to him most was Li Er and Tian Ming’s happiness and safety. He never betrayed her and did everything he could for her. He loved Li Er the way that Ying Zheng should have. He was satisfied as long as Li Er was happy, even if the person she was with wasn’t him. He didn’t knock her over the head and lock her up somewhere until she loved him back. Maybe Han Shen, Li Er, and Jing Ke can find each other and be happy in the afterlife.
Thank you so much for writing this. I really enjoyed reading it despite not watching the drama.
Great recap! I've enjoyed reading this series on this site.
On a side note–the time jump for Tian Ming's age really threw off the last few episodes. It made no sense whatsoever, considering he was still a 3 year old when Ying Zheng and Li'er came back from their Zhao state war and Jing Ke was still preparing to come to Qin. Is this show telling me that they managed to preserve General Fan's head for 6 years? And if they planned to assassinate Ying Zheng for this long, no wonder he was able to get ahead of Jing Ke.
I'll be honest–I strongly preferred Ying Zheng over Jing Ke. Ying Zheng got things done. He was ruthless, ambitious and forward-thinking. I knew from the start that Ying Zheng/Li'er were doomed as a couple–they literally had nothing in common and he was so volatile that it could only end badly. He is also depicted as extremely paranoid (and with good reason) so it doesn't surprise me at all that he doesn't trust Li'er as a normal spouse would. I think he genuinely thinks he loves/cares for her – his problem with Tian Ming is not that he is Li'er's son, it's that he is Jing Ke's son. I think to Ying Zheng, these two facts are practically unrelated which is why he is able to use Tian Ming so ruthlessly.
Jing Ke is such a weak character (and weakly characterized) that it's hard to see why someone as passionate and capable as Li'er found him attractive. He fell into pieces the moment she left him and SHE's the one who had to undergo all the trials and tribulations! This guy was such a tool and did not deserve Li'er in anyway shape or form. I'm glad they never got back together.
Li'er is an amazing female character. She is strong, compassionate and capable. She also never once lost sight of her own values; you can see that she tried very hard to influence Ying Zheng towards the right path. Her only failure in this was not realizing that not even her tiger can change his stripes–any more than she can change hers.
I really liked this drama but am sad it had to end this way (even though I kind of knew it had to be tragic). Ying Zheng is not a hero – and it is a mistake to view him through the hero lens. At best, he is an anti-hero with a very dark streak that he was never able to conquer. To me, the ending makes it clear that Li'er came to the same conclusion – she could not change him, she didn't want to kill him and she certainly couldn't stay with him. The only way she could make her ten year relationship with him meaningful was to make sure Ying Zheng would feel the lesson that all her love could not teach him. That's a brutal way to end a story!
I'm not agreeing to this comment.
Clap to all points of your comment. Totally agree with you!
If Ying Zheng wasn't such a broken person! He grew up with the perception that everyone was out to get him, he has even mention that everyone just want to use him, from his mother, father, grandfather and even his concubines. He has accused his mother of only using her for her own gains, you can see just how broken he was then, that that one person you'd expect to protect him, doesn't even care for his welfare.
You can see right away that having such an godawful childhood, he is predispose to never trust anyone in this lifetime.
So it was really not shocking for me if he was suspicious and wary of everyone, even to the person he loves most, because he grew up in such a distrustful environment.
All the wealth in the world didn't make his life easier either, since childhood he was in constant danger. Can you just imagine how in the world did he manage to survive in the court if not for his vigilance? To trust someone is to put your life in that person. He has kept everyone a meter away from him. That has served him well in the past.
To Li, my darling Li, Gods! her death will remain in my mind for many days to come *wails*
She was the only one I think who can reach his heart. For someone as deluded as the King, I think it's only her who can coax what little love and devotion he can dole out, but at the same time, her pureness will be the only thing that could reach his fortified walls.
The ending was tragic but poetic.
Despite the warnings of those closest to her, she still thought that he can be guided towards being a good ruler, which was his aspirations all along, and because she loves him, that is why she believed in him, up to the end.
Putting his best interest in mind, she sacrificed that one thing she thought would reach his heart.
I totally Agree with you.
I think that no one is a complete evil nor good and that's also what Li Er saw in Ying Zheng. Yes, they have nothing in common but they compliment each other and at some point they had each other's back which is also important in any relationship.
I love how Ying Zheng is very manipulative (and effective) but that is also making him believe into a delusion that he could make everything happen which is not the case with Li Er.
The ending did make sense to me because as a woman I would never be able live with that kind of person (as possessive and as jealous as Ying Zheng) but people in this drama does hold on to their feeling so strongly: Ying Zheng hold on to Li Er for years, Jing Ke also hold on to Li Er for years, thus it is also make sense if Li Er hold on to her feelings for Ying Zheng considering she had let go of Jing Ke. She could not go back nor moving forward, so sad….
Han Shen was a stand up guy, and I hate that he died. He deserved better. As did Li Zhong!
Never liked Jing Ke. I just couldn’t see him as the man Li-Er loved for all those years. And his drunk pity parties annoyed me.
I love Zheng Binbin so I was partial to the king. Li-Er was a great character and now I’m a big Dilraba fan.
Warrior Ge was such a badass! I wished they had had a scene at the end of Tian Ming being raised by him, Lan-Er and her incredibly hot husband (whoever he is!). 🙂
Thanks for the recap!
I am glad I dropped around episode 30. Now I can build my own ending with a good guy Ying Zheng and Li Er killed by Jing Ke when protecting him ..
Hola gracias por los comentarios yo tmb esperaba para verla, pero no me gusto el final
I wish it ended with li'er somehow getting saved li zhong and han shen not dying,and li er learning the swan swordsmanship then just because getting a season 2 with a more tougher li er
Thanks so much for all your recaps!
I was rather disappointed with the writing in the latter part of the drama as I felt it wasn't consistent with what had come from and there were quite a few inconsistencies and plot holes. But I did find those last few scenes with a callback of all the moments YZ and Li Er shared and the reminder that she would never stab him and their innocent childhood moments and YZ's realisation of what he had lost as he sits completely alone in the world very, very sad.
Unlike you I came away from this drama empathising with YZ. I have a classical background and he very much reminds me of a Shakespearean tragic hero or Greek or Roman tragic heroes whose tragic flaw (haemartia) is their undoing. I thought it was very interesting take on the Qin Emperor and how his childhood and life experiences shaped him and turned him into the flawed character he was. He wasn't always likeable or sympathetic but he was a fascinating, ruthless, twisted and sometimes heartbreaking anti-hero and by far the most interesting and compelling character in the drama helped by Zhang Bin Bin's excellent acting.
I often found Li Er confusing mainly due to the inconsistencies of the character but I blame that in writing that often treated her character as a plot device. I do like she was a refreshing change from the typical heroines but I will admit I couldn't always understand or sympathise with her actions but, nevertheless, it was very sad how things turned out for her. I think Dilireba had difficult job with this character as the writer made her so inscrutable and contradictory at times and she did her best with what he was given. I do feel her chemistry with ZBB made their scenes work and I hope one day we finally see them in drama together where they will get to have a happy ending!
Jing Ke – I really don't have much to say. Bad actor and uninteresting, weak character. No chemistry at all with Li Er so their relationship was never interesting or believable.
Han Shen – I feel like in the modern world he would have been the best guy. He was certainly the least selfish
Li Zhong – 100% loyal to YZ until the end. I wish he had survived.
It wasn't perfect drama at all with it's share of issues but I admire the production's ambition on trying a different path and different take on Ying Zheng with some great acting, fight scenes, directing and writing and at least it has generated lots of interesting discussions. I recommend everyone visit the Soompi forum thread for this drama as there has been tons of in depth discussion and analysis and laughs from the lovely posters there.
I agree about YZ character he was definitely a tormented anti hero but I sympathize with his tribulation and flaws . He truly loved li er but his own obsessions and aspirations killed all prospect of functional love but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t love deeply in fact it makes it even more tragic however, his character grew and developed even though it took loosing the ones he loved and the one he loved the most for this to happen. His realization of the loss and being all alone at the end was sad but I believe that his character will grow as a result and this tragic end will result in maturing and understanding what it means to be king and protect his loved ones and his people.ZBB was excellent in this role and In this drama YZ was by far the most interesting character the senior brother character was boring except for the martial arts it was a bore to watch and made me dislike the heroine because she loved him over YZ boring after a while surely you’d be sick of too nice nothing between the ears type the actor in this role didn’t help.
Excellent comment.Totally agree with everything you wrote.
Thank you so much for your recap. I lost patience with the drama at some point and your recap really helped me conclude the story.
In my opinion the story and the characters suffered greatly from inconsistent writing.
Jing Ke for example comes off as a bland character. But when analyzing his journey I can see that he actually had some trials along the way (in maturing as a martial artist) that are supposed to have shaped him up. But the writing didn't give us enough introspection for him, and the actor wasn't really good at conveying inner torment. I think that's the reason we think of Jing Ke as such a weak character. Which is a disservice to the whole gravitas of the story.
Han Shen is actually a pretty standard second male lead: the trustworthy, loyal and selfless best friend. Except in this drama, he kicks ass!! The dynamic of his relationship with Li Er is so interesting though. Usually in dramas, the female lead's "protector" would be much more authoritative. He would try to bend her to his will for her "own good". I was pleasantly surprised to see that Han Shen treated his female friend/crush like a capable and intelligent person, entitled to make her own decisions and he would just always be there if she needed help.
As for Ying Zheng, well to me he is more of a psychopath than anything else. I think that the big reveal of him being a monster all along is writing genius because at that moment, when she's eavesdropping on his conversation about Tian Min, I realized that we had only ever saw him through her lenses. And though at the beginning she and she sees him as a monstrous human being, as soon as she started falling in love with him and became blinded to his bad side, we did too!
Once I realized that I had been blinded by her love and that he haf actually always been a bad person everything fell in place. He never hid who he was: he told her he wanted her child dead, he was upfront too about using the poor kid as a pawn to make her stay. He had even told her about how his brother tested his love by taunting him about taking over the throne and how YZ just mercilessly cast him away for this. So her threatening to kill him… She knew exactly how he was gonna react.
In the end the last episode helped me understand the title of the drama better. The King is actually the main character of this drama. And his woman is the point of view we are given to observe him.
Unlike everyone, i think Jing Ke was the perfect love for Li'er. I loved the scene when he shows the drawing to YS! His words were true.
Li'er decisions were really unbelievable and stupid, more in tune with Thalía soup opera.
She always think about other people, but acted on her own, thinking she had all the answers. That is why she started to lie to Jing Ke about her pregnancy. Instead of giving him the chance to choose, she preferred to do what she thought it was right for everyone.
Of course, Jing Ke wanted to fulfill what master had in mind, that is why he said no to what Li'er wanted. He soon knew that was a wrong decision, as well as to keep on drinking. It was a bit annoying, even for the actor himself, but that is life. I prefer a character that is noble, and has a meaning in life, a pure heart, that gets broken and then falls into the abyss of what seems a death in life, and that is, when our lover doesn't love you anymore. He fell into the nihonshu. With the love and patience of everyone around him, he could see the light, but is was a changed man. Not an unidimensional character. People change. But what didn't changed was her love for Li'er.
Ying, on the other hand, treated her like an object, was jealous, even tho, he had a lot of concubines in the castle, and lied to her from the begining. He coudn't care less for anyone. And i mean: anyone. He even poisoned Jing. That is a coward and vile move. Even the actor coudn't sympathize with the king!.
I agree with Elisabel..Jing Ke was Li’er’s perfect love. They truly loved each other before Ying Zhen forced her to be with him..such a jerk….how would any of us cope if the love of your life was ripped away from you with no warning. I thought the actor Chang Liu did the best he could with the script he was given..it wasn’t his acting, I think the writing for his character could have been a little better. Han Shen was given a stronger role and I cried when he was killed so brutally. I love the actor Vin Zhang ..he was great playing the role of the King Ying Zheng…I hated to see him with Li’er..so jealous and possessive. He stole Jing Ke’s woman for his own selfish reasons and literally ruined both their lives. This was one of my favorite ancient dramas and I highly recommend it!!
I love the king but it was pretty sad how he chooses his pride instead over her.
Thank you for your recap. Up to episodes 38 I couldn't continue watching as I suspect the ending will be tragic so I decided to read your recap.
At least I'm ready now (not ambushed like when I watched the last episode of The Rise Of Phoenixes)
Carmen San Diego
Ying Zheng said he loved Li'Er, but I think it's painfully obvious that he had no idea what love was. If anything, he loved no one but himself. No man who loves a woman would ever treat her that way. I only wish Han Shen had survived, his death hit me the hardest and had me crying over my tablet screen. Dang, this show's ending was depressing!
i watched until seventh episode i have no time .. i would like to learn Gongsun Li who does she love Ying Zheng or Jing Ke ? and Who is the father of the baby? thx
Sure enough after Ep 25 the conflicts come in throes. I'm fortunate enough to get off this roller-coaster ride before I got buried in this pit. However, I wouldn't deny the fact that The King's Woman is one of the best I've seen. I have great opinions on the whole movie but what I loved the most was Li Er's last scene.
Ying Zheng takes Li Er in his arms and asks her why she did that. Li Er: “I came up with this method, for you to kill the person you love most, you will understand how it feels to lose the person you love most.” Ying Zheng: “Don’t say anything more. I understand now.” Li Er: “Only if you understand the people, will you be a good King.”
I truly believed that Ying Zheng loved Li Er in his own way. He was heartless but it comes with the territory. He has great ambition. Logically speaking, I am not surprised with how it ended because I felt like it's how it should be. I believe that a true king must not only be strong, intellgent, and charismatic. He must have a heart for himself, his family and his people. The death of Li Er has two outcomes: One, Ying Zheng understood love and thus treat his people genuinely. Two, Ying Zheng became a great king that has no weakness. It may probably not the best ending for some people, but it's undeniably the right one imo.
Late to the party, but had to add to the conversation – this show reminds me so much of the Korean drama Empress Ki. Same situation where the King/Emperor is obsessed with a female warrior (that he initially meets dressed as a man), and even though she loves a dude from her own country and gets pregnant by him, she goes into the palace to become a concubine. Both shows have the same irritating plot – strong, brave woman gradually loses her will and falls in love with the abusive, rotten emperor, who kills the father of her child at the end of the show. I'm mostly shocked at how many people actively root for a strong female character and the selfish tyrant to have a happily ever after. My happily ever after would be for the female character to actually kill the king, avenge her loved ones, and go on to raise her child to know his real father. Is that too much to ask, drama writers?!
I was so disappointed with the ending of the drama. I knew there was no true love in the story. They're all had their weaknesses and couldn't struggle against their fate. I expect better ending in the end or there will be season 2 to this drama about Tian Ming story.
After I read this, I stopped watching the series. My heart started hurting. I was hoping for a happy ending, but this was a true tragedy at the end. I can't finish it.
This ending gave me a very bitter after taste. It is easy to blame the king for everything, but I on the other hand really, feel sorry for him. Because till the very end Li still choose Jing Ke over him… The king once said… "He's the one who wanted to kill me" meaning no matter what, Jing Ke will never stop trying to kill him…and if I remember correctly, Li once again plead for Jing Ke asking the king to spare him once again and that she will stay with him forever using that as a bargaining chip…and I invite you all to rewatch that part… and see what the King said to her…that she don't understand and never knew what he wanted… I know there's a lot of discussion about trust, and I will agree that the King never fully trust Li, however, Li's Maid was working for the king… meaning The king knew all along that Li had met Jing Ke on many occasions, that Li had kept that purple scarf throughout the years…that he will always be at best third on her list behind Tian Min and Jing Ke. As for love, remember when the King knew Li was pregnant with Jing Ke’s child… what did he do? and Remember when Li lied to Jing ke about Tian Min being the King's child… what did he do…and yet till the very end… she still tell Jing Ke "wait for me" (when he was dying)… I felt so bad for the king. So overall, was the King Cruel? yes. Was the King manipulative? yes. Did he (the King) love Li? without a shadow of a doubt. Did he deserve better? perhaps… and perhaps the ending would have been different. I strongly believe that Li could have made the King a much better person…however whenever it mattered she tends to make the worst decision possible.
Personally, I think they took the easiest ending possible as we know EXACTLY how the King feels about Li … and I think even till the very end, Li never understood the King otherwise she wouldn't have sacrifice herself. If we go back to episode 21 the King said to Li Zhong "I could be cruel because I have no burden, there is nothing or no one I care about, but I have Lady Li now… she is my only weakness" So Li sacrificing herself was her biggest mistake as she was the only thing that anchor him down to his somehow good side.
I would have love to see 2 alternate endings:
1- Where Jing Ke kills the King…how would Li feels? Will she kill Jing Ke to avenge the King? Will she live ever after with Jing Ke? My answer is… I don’t know because I never truly understand where she stands in that love triangle.
2- The King kill Jing Ke and Li actually killed the King… then what? Who will she remember now that she is alone? Will she finally understand what is it that the King was seeking all this time? Once again…I don’t know…
Other than that, wonderful serie…stellar acting from both the King and Li… but I’m probably the only one that actually think when is come to their love triangle, The King actually got the short straw.
jing ke finds out tian ming is his son is before episode 31 or after?