The Story of Minglan Episode 1 Recap

Welcome to my very first recap! The Story of Minglan Episode 1!

The Story of Minglan Episode 1 Recap Highlights:

  • Sheng household’s eldest miss is getting married and the audience is introduced to the rest of the household members
  • Minglan saves the day by winning with her skills
  • The inner workings of the Sheng household is hinted at and revealed

This first episode gives a lot of insight on how most noble families of this era work. And about the culture in general.

On that note, the intro song is really beautiful. It sounds like it’s played with traditional Chinese instruments.

What can we glean from this episode? Let’s jump into this episode and find out! The Story of Minglan Episode 1!

There is a status quo

A young child carrying a basket walks into a narrow alleyway while sniffling and crying.

When an older sister walks over to her and notices someone is wrong.

She crouches down and asks about her grievances.


The little girl was assigned to get charcoal for her mistress from the kitchen.

Wow so maids can be trained at a young age?

But ended up getting turned away. Despite having the right to take their charcoal allowance.

So this sister decides to head back to the kitchen to try again. Even if she has to fight for it.

Outside the kitchen area, the older sister struggles against the kitchen workers. While they drag her out of the kitchen.

But Sister Zhou stops by and asks about the disturbance.

The lady in charge of the kitchen rushes to greet her and her attitude is completely different from earlier.

Sister Zhou is apparently regarded in a high position (probably due to the Madam Lin lady she serves?). Oh and it’s revealed in the conversation between Miss Gan and Xiaodie (the servant trying to get the charcoal) that Madam Lin is currently the one in charge of the household matters.

Xiaodie recites the allotment her mistress is suppose to get each day.

Sister Zhou who seems like a good person lectures Miss Gan (kitchen lady boss) about her improper behavior.

But Miss Gan argues back saying that Xiaodie received some charcoal ahead of time. So now they have to balance it out by deducting what they overtook.

An Honest Servant

Some more back and forth arguments and then Xiaodie aggressively makes a scene which earns her some charcoal.

Sister Zhou (in the middle) looking away is like psshh really? For some charcoal!?

We can see Xiaodie is an honest person when she grabs just enough to fill her basket and leaves the rest of the charcoal untouched.

“Whatever belongs to me, I will take them all. What doesn’t belong to me, I won’t even take a cent.”

So honest! That’s a rare trait for a maid servant.

Sheng Household Head

A mature woman slams the table in anger as she is fed up the current marriage arrangements with the Yuan household.

She is the main wife of Sheng Hong, Wang Ruofu, a strong willed and quick tempered woman.

Wang Ruofu doesn’t care for the Yuan household (a ducal house) if they are making things difficult.

Sheng Hong on the left and main wife on the right in maroon.

Sheng Hong, the head of the Sheng household, tries to calm his wife. Commenting that this marriage is a great match and they shouldn’t discard it just because of some difficulties.

Wang Ruofu then scoffs, saying that if it was his other daughter Molan, can he say the same?

The duke and duchess of the Yuan household was suppose to come for the marriage. But now it’s their eldest son?

When Sheng Hong first mentioned this marriage, it sounded too good to be true and Wang Ruofu feels like she’s been tricked.

She won’t allow her daughter to get mistreated right off the bat.

But Sheng Hong coaxes Wang Ruofu to get ready to welcome the guests. And mentions how the marriage gifts have been unloaded already so they have no choice but to proceed.

After his wife is convinced, Sheng Hong then tells the servants to unload the gifts.

An unfavored courtyard

Xiaodie returns to her mistress’ courtyard with the charcoal she received from the kitchen. It’s crude and not typically used to warm the rooms.

Instead it creates a lot of fumes, causing Xiaode to cough to clear her lungs.

Xiaodie’s mistress (Minglan’s mother) tells her to wear more clothing if they are cold. Because she knows the kitchen workers won’t give them the right charcoal.

But Xiaodie expresses her concerns for the two little girls: Xiaotao (the other servant) and Minglan (her daughter). Who need the warmth.

Minglan’s mother then gives Xiaodie a bracelet to sell so they can get some decent charcoal. 

Minglan’s so cute! Even with charcoal on her face.

But Minglan jumps in and disagrees. Saying that this bracelet was given to her mother by her granny. Then suggests reporting the situation to her father so they can get their allotted charcoal

Her mother smiles at her child’s naviety knowing that it’s not that simple.

She then tells Minglan that if she could obtain the Old Madam Sheng (Minglan’s paternal grandma)’s favor, she wouldn’t have to worry about the cold.

But Minglan refuses to do so and says she’s not cold.

Since she’s not cold, her mother doesn’t want her to mention this again.


Hualan’s Marriage

Hualan is getting married to Yuan Wenshao from the Yuan Ducal house.

The representative from the Yuan household propose and the Sheng family members have to agree before celebrations can begin.

In the meantime, Hualan gets some parting gifts and advice from the matriarch of the family, Old Madam Sheng.

Hualan on the left, the eldest daughter of the Sheng household
Old Madam Sheng, Sheng Hong’s mother

Celebration is full underway. And lots of people have arrived to join in on the celebration.

Minglan and her servant are sneaking around to grab some food too.

ChangFeng is losing badly against his opponent, who is the young and arrogant Gu Ting Ye.

As Wang Ruofu acts as a gracious host, one of her servants tell her some bad news.

Apparently Changfeng (Madam Lin’s son) made a bet with the proposal gifts and is currently losing.

Wang Ruofu storms off to sort out the situation.

The game involves tossing arrows in a uniquely shaped jar. Depending on where the arrow lands in the jar, you get a certain amount of points.

Hualan and the grandmother get notified as well.

And the grandmother takes this as an opportunity to allow Hualan to learn how to take care of matters such as these.

So the grandmother asks Hualan what would she do in this situation. Because once she’s married, she will need to made difficult decisions herself.

Arrow Throwing Contest

Changfeng in white.

The main wife is pissed off of course because these gifts are for her eldest daughter’s wedding and the son of a concubine is essentially ruining everything. Evident by her calling him “the little bastard”.

Wang Ruofu rushes to the scene of the competition but wonders where her husband is. Thinking that he’s likely at Madam Lin’s courtyard.

Since he favors his concubine so much.

However, Sheng Hong is actually somewhere else. Discussing with the Yuan relatives on the best way to resolve this issue.

Sheng Hong thinks it’s better that the relatives stop the competition because they brought Gu Tingye to the wedding. And Gu Tingye is currently winning the competition.

However, the relatives disagree.

They think because the gifts were delivered to the Sheng family, the gifts are now the Sheng’s so if one of the household sons wants to use them in a competition then they should be the ones stopping the competition.

Sheng Hong of course is furious and thinks they are causing trouble deliberately.

Madam Lin then gets notified of her son’s troubles and thinks of ways to get him out of his predicament. She suggests her servant girl to tell her son to admit his wrongdoings (so he could get a lesser punishment).

While also telling her servant to reach out to her husband’s servant (who usually performs the beatings – Dongrong) so they could plan how her son could get away with lighter beatings.

She’s very clever but why does Sheng Hong favor her so much?

Young Gu Ting Ye

Minglan Saves the Day

When Changfeng doesn’t want to compete anymore and Sheng Hong disperses the crowd.

Minglan steps up to the plate and throws one arrow. It lands perfectly in the jar.

Gu Tingye asks if the girl really wants to compete with him.

Minglan: Bring it on!

It’s almost neck and neck until the final arrow throw. And Minglan showcases her cleverness and talent.

She thinks about the direction of the wind and carefully throws the arrow into the jar that wins her the game. Before a massive gust of wind ends the competition and convinces everyone to head inside.

Afterwards Gu Ting Ye acquaints himself with Changbai because he’s interested in one of military maps that Changbai dropped. They share the same sentiment for lost territories and become friends.

While exchanging courtesy names.

Because if you’re not friends, you wouldn’t address each other with courtesy names.

Minglan’s mother lectures her about standing out. Because this attention and praise will harm her in the long run. She understands that the Sheng family has underlying dynamics and doesn’t want Minglan to get hurt.

Because she’s not the same as the other daughters.

She tells her daughter that the eldest daughter has the backing of her mother’s powerful family and her fourth sister has the backing of her mother’s favored status while she has none of that. Her mother explains her situation and how she got marriage here.

She was sold for in exchange for medicine and comes from a poor background. The way Minglan’s mother explains the comparison highlights the difference very well.


Changfeng gets punished

When it gets dark, Madam Lin beats her son as punishment in front of her husband. While the son admits his errors.

Then Wang Ruofu comes in and glares at Madam Lin who ducks her head in submission. She brought Rulan, her younger daughter along as well.

Who reports to her father that her elder sister has been crying in her room.

Young Rulan

She wants to know why her third brother instigated this. Did he have a grudge against her older sister?

Changfeng was drunk so his mind wasn’t clear. Wang Ruofu wonders if anyone in this household is actually clear-minded.

Because in other families, all children are raised by the main wife. Madam Lin interjects and thanks Wang Ruofu and Sheng Hong for their generosity of allowing her to raise her children by her side.

Then she continues to explain that her son made a mistake because he was drunk. So she is willing to let her son take the punishment of 30 floggings.

Dongrong, Sheng Hong’s servant will do the flogging.

Sheng Hong then glances at Dongrong with a certain look and Dongrong gives a faint nod.

The main wife’s anger is appeased and everyone else is happy. Especially Madam Lin since her scheme worked.

Wang Ruofu realizes later on that she could have used this opportunity to get management rights back in her hands.

But she lost the opportunity.

Madam Lin: 1, Main Wife: 0

Who shall win in the end?

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The first impressions I get at the start of the show are the working class of the common people. In the first couple of scenes you can see how the adults have to work while carrying their children with them. 

You can already tell that these people have no choice but to bring their children along when they go to work. They don’t have the luxury of babysitters to watch their children while they earn their living for themselves and their families.

I wonder if they started with these scenes because it kinda draws a parallel between these working class and Minglan’s family in her mother’s courtyard.

Her mother is not favored by her father as we could tell by the servants’ attitudes. It’s quite sad to see how the current family dynamics are. Minglan and her mother have to struggle to get anything while Madam Lin and the main wife don’t appear to have the same struggles.

I can already the personalities of the characters so far.

The main wife is arrogant and strong-willed. Madam Lin is clever and beautiful. Minglan’s mother is also clever but she knows not to stand out. Sheng Hong, the father is average I guess?

He has multiple wives which is common for this era but I feel like the other characters outshine him for now. He feels like a scum bag but we shall see?
The grandmother, Sheng Hong’s adopted mother is presented to be a wise older woman.

She’s one of my favorite characters and you’ll see why later on!
Minglan is clever from a young age as evident of her winning back the competition for her elder sister. 

So in case people are confused about the Sheng family children: the main wife bore 3 children, Madam Lin has 2 children and Minglan’s mother just has her.

Main wife’s children: Hualan (the oldest sister), Rulan (the younger sister), and Changbai (the middle brother)

Madam Lin’s children: Changfeng (the younger brother) and Molan (the younger sister – may be around the same age as Rulan)

Her mother is so pitiful, trying to teach Minglan how to survive in this household but Minglan is too young to understand. I get the feeling something bad is going to happen soon. T_T

Can you also tell that Madam Lin is an ultimate white lotus? She’s so two-faced but that’s how she survived this long in this family as a concubine.

She puts out tears whenever she wants and acts all fragile. No wonder the main wife has been in a power struggle with her all these years. 

Thoughts on this episode? Comment below!

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1 year ago

I’m late to discussion, sorry, asking questions about 1st epi anyway in hopes I learn the answers soon. Q: what are the identities of … Q1: the 2 adolescent boys; the one who throws the dart/arrows and later is missing after saving the family boy on boat. As adults I guess he is Tingye. Who is the other boy as adult? Also, when the boy saves his inheritance (from his grandfather salt merchant), we don’t see him anymore as a youth… Later a woman’s (salt mine) dowry saves Tingye’s father’s family. She dies in her pregnancy. Q2: Did his salt… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by mjl
4 years ago

So I decided to rewatch again lol and I put the nicknames Tingye and Changbai have for each other in a Chinese translator and Zecheng means Teach effectively and Zhonghuai is medium bad like wth.

4 years ago
Reply to  Coco

That’s interesting and awesome and obviously a lot better than putting the words into the google translator and hoping for the best lol I thought the nicknames of Teach and medium bad kind of went as well though lol given Tingye’s reputation and Chengbai’s future as a scholar but still I loved the Chinese lesson I didn’t know all that information. I literally just put the words in google translate and went with what it spit out.

4 years ago

Looking forward to each new chapter recap. Thanks for your efforts.

4 years ago

Thanks a lot for this recap!
I’m just starting this drama and I haven’t a lot of experience with C-dramas so your explanations and family tree helped me a lot!!

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