Young Molan is reciting a poem from a book to the Sheng family matriarch (the grandmother) and the grandmother hints to her that she is very similar to her mother, Madam Lin.
It seems like the grandmother is not very fond of Madam Lin nor the granddaughter borne from her womb. She tells her to run along to grab breakfast since she hasn’t had any and Molan tries to stay longer by saying she wants to recite all of the words she’s learned to her grandmother.
Being blunt, the grandmother tells her she should grab breakfast.
Disappointed, Molan walks off quietly.
In the next scene, we see Molan throwing cups and plates in anger, yelling at mother for making her go to her grandmother’s place. She thinks her grandmother hates her mother and herself so why should she bother going over there for morning greetings?
Madam Lin lectures her daughter, knowing that if her daughter can somehow win the favor of the grandmother, she would be better off in the long run. She also threatens to have her daughter go to the main wife to be raised if she cannot listen to her own mother.
Molan, shocked, walks over to her mother, hugs her intimately and pleads with her. (Lovely parenting we see here)
Sheng Hong, Minglan’s father, brings up the grandmother’s illness and suggests having one of his daughters at her side to help with her loneliness and depression. The grandmother refuses saying she doesn’t want to be exhausted while raising a child and appreciates her quietness in her courtyard but her expression implies she will think about it.
Going back to Molan and her mother, Molan admits that she is scared of the way the grandmother looks at her and doesn’t want to go over there again. Madam Lin tells Molan that grandmother is a softy and if she tells her grandmother what she wants to hear then Molan won’t be lectured by her grandmother.
Continuing the discussion of grandmother and Sheng Hong, the grandmother tells her adopted son that she approves how he “punished” his son, Changfeng. Then mentions how lucky they were to have Minglan save the day while also asking if he had visited Minglan and her mother lately.
Sheng Hong admits he hasn’t and will do so as soon as he can.
On the way to his main wife’s courtyard, Sheng Hong bumps into Minglan and asks why she’s lingering around in the middle of the courtyard.
Minglan tells him she’s been waiting to see her father and asks him if he could visit her mother.
When he promises to visit her mother later in the evening, Minglan smiles with joy and runs off. Sheng Hong then chuckles to himself wondering why such a little promise made her so happy.
Minglan tells her mother that her father will be coming over today while she secretly asks one of her servants (Xiaodie) if she sold the stove coal yet (in exchange for regular coal).
Xiaodie shakes her head, mentioning that she didn’t get a chance to do so. Meanwhile, Minglan’s mother warns Minglan not to mention anything regarding their poor situation to her father.
Xiaodie gets a chance to step out of the courtyard and sell the bad coal but of course she’s blocked by one the servants from the last episode who thinks she’s up to no good.
Thankfully, another guard allows Xiaodie to the leave the premises, telling her to quickly perform her task and come back.
We then jump to seeing Gu Ting Ye and Sheng Changbai hanging out together in the streets and end up grabbing a meal together on a leisure boat while discussing their future plans. Changbai suggests Zhonghuai (Gu Ting Ye’s nickname) to study for the imperial exams to become a scholar with him while Gu Ting Ye thinks he would be better off as a military man.
Changbai thinks that’s not a bad idea either as one of them can be a military man and one a scholar (which would complement each other well in serving the nation). Gu Ting Ye mentions that if he gets a chance in the future to reclaim the lost lands of the nation, he would be able to die without regrets.
Someone yells out “Young Master” which is supposedly directed to Gu Ting Ye. It turns out the boat is being attacked by assassins who are aiming for him for apparently.
A fierce battle ensues and it’s very clear that Gu Ting Ye has some skills in martial arts as he leads Changbai away to safety while he defending him and himself against the assassins.
Changbai ends up falling off of the boat and into the ocean and someone dives in to save him while Gu Ting Ye continues to fight against the assassins and ends up falling into the ocean himself.
The screen fades to black after he does so, is he still alive?
Jumping back to Minglan, she’s super excited to see her father come visit her and her mother. She was waiting for him while playing “cat’s cradle” with her servant.
She pounces into her father’s embrace while she yells out “little madam” (as she’s not suppose to call her mother, mother – all concubine born children should only treat the main wife as “mother”).
Her mother, still in her room, tidies up a bit before her husband comes over. Sheng Hong, Minglan’s father strides in with Minglan still in his embrace as he nods to her greeting and starts off the conversation by mentioning how great Minglan was at the arrow toss. Minglan’s mother, Shuyi acts humble as she brushes off Minglan’s victory as mere luck.
Sheng Hong then brings up the gifts he brought over from Hualan (Minglan’s older sister from the main wife) and says that Hualan will come over some other time to thank the both of them personally.
Minglan follows Xiaodie into a side room and asks how much coal they were able to get from selling the bad coal and it turns out it wasn’t much. But Minglan is unconcerned as she thinks her father will come in and save the day.
Xiaodie nods in agreement, appearing hopeful as well. Shuyi, Minglan’s mother and Sheng Hong continue to make small talk, mostly about Minglan and how she grew up to be a good kid. Shuyi attributes her daughter’s good upbringing due to the Sheng Matriarch’s influence and the main wife’s influence and Sheng Hong nods in agreement.
He also brings up that whomever can gain the favor of his mother is a fortunate child.
Xiaodie and Minglan come in with some tea to serve to her mother and father respectively. After Minglan serves the tea to her father, she slips in a hint that they don’t have much charcoal and that he should drink his tea quickly to stay warm.
Her mother gives Minglan a hard look since she told her previously that she shouldn’t bring these matters up to her father as they will invite trouble but Minglan is too young to understand.
Minglan’s mother covers the situation by saying that pregnant woman get hot easily and so she doesn’t even need the charcoal. Then she follows up saying that if Sheng Hong feels cold he should leave.
Things escalate once Minglan kneels on her knees and tells her father that her mother was lying. Her mother gets so cold at night that she has to hug Minglan for warmth to sleep easily. Minglan adds that they don’t get enough food each day while her mother hits her on the shoulder.
Furious, Sheng Hong yells that in this household, he is still the master and he is the one making decisions. He leaves abruptly while Minglan and her mother thinks that they will get justice.
He ends up at his wife’s place and lashes out at his wife for neglecting Wei Shuyi (Minglan’s mother). His wife is short-tempered and easily roused into anger, thinking that after Madam Lin now Wei Shuyi is trying to rise above her.
The main wife’s trusted servant suggests that this may be due to Madam Lin’s poor management. So now the blame is on Madam Lin.
When they bring in Madam Lin for questioning, Madam Lin is adamant that everything was distributed properly and that she even used her own personal funds to supplement the bird’s nest sent to Minglan’s mother every so often.
Madam Lin’s servant suggests that the items cannot have disappeared suddenly and someone is stealing the items. Sheng Hong asks her to explain while the screen fades to black.
Sheng Changbai (Sheng Hong’s eldest son) is woken up on a boat while he yells out Gu Ting Ye’s childhood name wondering where he is.
Back to the Sheng residence, there’s some movement while the servants in the family are frantically searching for the “so-called” thief that stole the goods owed to Minglan’s mother.
It looks like there’s a scheme afoot.
After everything was investigated, the missing items of money, coal, tea, food were all found in Xiaodie’s room (Shuyi’s trusted servant).
Madam Lin’s servant, Xiaoyuan accuses Xiaodie of stealing from her mistress and having the scapegoat be Madam Lin. Minglan tries to convince her father that it’s not Xiaodie but Madam Lin interrupts that she was feeling relieved that she did not fail in her duty.
As Weiyi tries to plead for Xiaodie, Sheng Hong blames Weiyi for acting bitter, causing a big scene and then blaming him for investigating incorrectly.
It then escalates to a debate of the main wife and concubine where the main wife laments that it’s her husband’s fault the concubine, Madam Lin is being pampered way too much.
In anger, Sheng Hong wants Xiaodie to pay for causing all of this with her life while Minglan and her mother beg for leniency. A male servant then attests to Xiaodie leaving the premises with some goods in her basket (this was the “guard” who let her out before to sell the bad charcoal).
Xiaodie realizes she has been set-up.
Before Sheng Hong can make a decision, a servant rushes in and announces that the Second master was beaten up. The family then finds out that Gu Ting Ye is missing too so the local magistrate is called in for help to find him.
In the midst of all of this chaos, Madam Lin has a doctor read her pulse and then check on Wei Shuyi as well. If there’s any special regarding Shuyi’s pregnancy, the doctor should inform Madam Lin and avoid telling Shuyi directly.
After the night of searching is over, Xiaodie is all off on her own, washing clothes in a rundown house. It looks like she was kicked out of the Sheng family for the stealing she did.
Minglan’s servant comes over to deliver a bracelet to her, saying that it was a gift from Minglan’s mother as she knows Xiaodie is poor and may get sold off again by her uncle.
Xiaodie wonders if Minglan’s mother trusted her to which the servant says yes. Shuyi knew that Xiaodie was put into this situation because she worked under her.
A very tearful moment passes by between Xiaodie and Minglan’s servant as they say goodbye to one another.
Down by the river, some people appear to have found Gu Ting Ye’s body which looked like it bloated up from being soaked in the water too long.
Back to Minglan’s courtyard, Minglan sees goods loaded into their pantry and tells her mother that this was the result of her telling all of their shortcomings to her father.
Otherwise they wouldn’t get enough food and charcoal. She just wishes that Xiaodie could still be with them. Shuyi tells her daughter Minglan that Xiaodie was implicated because of them.
A new servant rushes over to serve Minglan and her mother, the replacement of Xiaodie while Shuyi seems to have realized something.
In the next scene, all of the officials are looking over what seems to be Gu Ting Ye’s body except the body is unrecognizable since it has bloated up so much but because they found the tassel that is usually with Gu Ting Ye on this body, they assume it’s him.
The relative from the Yuan family who brought Gu Ting Ye here attempts to validate the face to see if it’s really Gu Ting Ye but he assumes it’s him without looking very closely.
The episode ends with the funeral scene of Gu Ting Ye’s coffin.
Madam Lin: 2, Main Wife: 0, Wei Shuyi: 0
Oh man, lots of things happened in this episode. There is scheming, death and more family dynamics.
We see more of the dynamics in the Sheng family where Sheng Hong, the master, dotes on Madam Lin the most, making his main wife jealous all the time.
He doesn’t realize that what he is doing upsets the balance and harmony of the family but does it anyway.
I wonder if the reasoning behind it was that his mother was a concubine and his father also ended up doting the concubines over the wife as well?
Minglan is young and naive and didn’t realize that telling her father what her courtyard was missing ended up causing Xiaodie to be blamed and get kicked out of the house.
It was all a ploy by Madam Lin and her servant. I think Wei Shuyi figures all of this out since she is clever but she has no power in this household to do anything.
She knows this and would rather sit on the sidelines and allow the main wife and Madam Lin battle it out without being caught in the middle.
It’s just episode 2 but I don’t like Sheng Hong, Minglan’s father already. He’s biased and very short-sighted. He favors Madam Lin a lot and lets her go quite easily once she “admits” her faults and acts submissive while his wife scoffs at her “white-lotus” acts.
He neglects Minglan’s mother until Minglan actually asks for him or when his mother mentioned that he should visit her. Why did he marry her then?
I do like how the story is slow but is building upon layers and layers. We get to see how the characters are as children and this may give us an insight as to how they may be later.
For example, Molan. Her mother, Madam Lin, teaches her to tell people what they want to hear so they like her.
Does that mean Molan will grow up two-faced like her mother? We shall see.
And is Gu Ting Ye really killed off so early in the show? He’s the main lead right? How could that Yuan family guy write him off so easily without actually verifying the body?
Yes, it’s gross and the body smelled but shouldn’t he have taken a closer look? But I think he’s up to some shady business as he paid some guy off at the end.
What is he up to?
What do you guys think of episode 2? Leave comments below, thanks!