We’re getting deep into territory where it’s going to be really hard for fiction readers to keep their foreknowledge to themselves (but let’s all try, shall we?) It’s also clear that the days are Hanging around the palace solving small cases here and there may be coming to an end. Lihua and Gyoukuyo’s plots primarily focus on the possibility of producing an heir to the emperor and the rivalry that arises from that, and Lihua’s plot continues to focus on her youth and how her maids Her hunt for that. Ah-duo, the other senior consort, is now brought into the story and it’s clear that there’s more to her story than simply being thirty-five years old.
That easily makes her the oldest consort of the main character, and it is noted that she is a year older than the emperor. She was also his longest-serving concubine, having become one before he ascended the throne. While she may be past the age considered best for childbearing, she’s also barely aged. But she also seems to lack the material assets to attract the emperor to Gyoukuyo and Lihua, so most people seem to be operating under the assumption that the emperor kept her around out of old feelings – and she was his adopted sister before she was his concubine, so maybe there’s something to that. But even more interesting is the revelation that she bore him a son seventeen years ago, a child who died a year later… and was born to Dr. Luomen, whom you may know is Maomao’s father.
There’s a lot to unpack in those revelations. Adoptive siblings aside (and that could simply mean they were cared for by the same woman, which is relatively common), Ah-duo’s son would have been born around the same time. for the emperor’s younger brother, this seems a bit too coincidental. although it is not beyond the realm of possibility. Perhaps it’s melodramatic to think about babies being switched at birth, but there aren’t many other good narrative conclusions to make. We still have to wonder if Ah-duo stayed in the inner palace as a favor for having given birth to a son, but why is Lihua so afraid of being rejected? (It’s true that death from arsenic poisoning and old age are two very different reasons for infant mortality.) Ah-duo himself doesn’t look like a typical spouse. Maomao, when sent to Ah-duo’s booth, finds herself moving jars of honey and displaying an extensive library, both of which show how different the Garnet Pavilion is from the other booths. Maomao also notes that Ah-duo would seem more comfortable riding a horse or dressing like a man, both of which raise the question of why she would want to be in the palace, especially if the person we I see you’re drinking. On top of the wall at the beginning of the episode is in fact her.
Luomen delivering Ah-duo’s baby is also very interesting. Maomao did not know about her father’s work in the inner palace, although she noticed some obvious differences in his life, such as his status as a eunuch, the missing bone in his knee, and his medical skills. his superiority to the area in which he practiced. The bigger mystery here, and it’s currently not entirely clear whether Jinshi knows about it or not, or why he would want Maomao to find it if he already knows the answer. (Or perhaps he doesn’t know and wants her to learn it for him.)
Fengming, Ah-duo’s main maid, is part of the whole problem. Lishu is afraid of her and her lover, which is saying something because the poor girl is not afraid of her women. The drowned woman was almost certainly accused of poisoning Lishu, and it now appears that Fengming was the one who did it—and if she did, how much of it was done with Ah’s approval? -duo? Maybe no; Fengming may just be actively trying to ensure that if a new consort arrives, she will replace Lishu and not Ah-duo. But the topics here are becoming increasingly muddled and who knows what is becoming an ever more pressing question.
Gaoshun could carelessly look out the window as Jinshi harassed Maomao, but no one could escape that willful blindness when Maomao was sniffing out what was going on in the palace. Her name may mean cat, but now she’s going to look like a dog with a bone when it involves her father, so whoever is causing trouble better watch out .
The Apothecary’s Diary is now streaming on Crunchyroll.