In Blossom (2024) 花间令

Summary: A romance detective drama set in a fictional world, this original script stars Ju Jing Yi and Liu Xue Yi in the main roles as they uncover mysteries in the town of He Yang that are tied to the horrors of their past and political powers at court.



Total Episode Count: 32

Initial Airing Date: March 15, 2024

Platform: Youku

*Note – English translations may not match official translations


Final Rating: 7/10: A surprise hit for Youku, this beautifully shot romance drama has been a hot topic of discussion of late. The pairing of Yang Cai Wei and Pan Yue have fans swooning and the added intrigue of crime solving is decent enough for this original IP. However, it could have been an even better drama if the main female lead was swapped.


shang guan zhi/yang cai wei 上官芷/ 杨采薇

ju jing yi 鞠婧祎

Originally the daughter of the wealthy Shang Guan family

pan yue 潘樾

liu xue yi 刘学义

Unloved son of the Pan family, he searched 10 years for Yang Cai Wei.  He becomes a magistrate over He Yang

yang cai wei


zheng he hui zi 郑合惠子

A young disfigured coroner in He Yang. She grew up with Pan Yue before they were separated 10 years ago

zhuo lan jiang 卓澜江

li ge yang 李哥洋

Friend of Yang Cai Wei with a secret/powerful identity.


(First 2 episodes)

The main female lead is a character named Yang Cai Wei ft Zheng He Hui Zi. She was an official’s daughter but 10 years ago when she was quite young, her family was killed and she was cast out. In a violent attack, bandits or assassins slashed her face which left a large scar. She managed to survive and became coroner. She’s very diligent in her work but is often ridiculed for her looks and her profession. Years later, she runs into Pan Yue played by Liu Xue Yi who apparently has been searching for her for the last 10 years. They had a marriage order decreed by the Emperor and Pan Yue has never forgotten it. The two meet and try to reconnect.


What’s been great:

Liu Xue Yi’s Pan Yue: I’ve been a fan of Liu Xue Yi for a while but I’ve primarily seen him only in second male lead roles. In last summer’s Destined or Chang Feng Du, I didn’t feel like he lived up to his potential. Or the drama didn’t allow him to maximize his potential. He is quite enjoyable as the male lead here. Pan Yue is thoughtful, kind, handsome, devoted and quite romantic. What more could you want from a male lead from a romance drama? His chemistry with Yang Cai Wei was off the charts and he has an earnest, burning stare that reflects his love for Yang Ci Wei that is palpable throughout the drama. Within a few short episodes, you wanted to believe his love story and root for him to have his happy ending.  

Admirable female lead: The character of Yang Cai Wei is a young woman I greatly admire. She is disfigured due to a slash to a face by bandits when she was young. She was originally the daughter of a government official and had the opportunity to play in the presence of the Emperor but after the death of her parents, ended up surviving in the lowest rungs of society She takes a job as a coroner, cares for her mentally ill teacher and does her job exceptionally well. She is not afraid of death nor is she beat down when life seems unfair. She does not take anything for granted but does not let life run away from her. When we see her, despite her disheveled outward appearance, we see how brightly she shines. Yang Cai Wei is a character that when we see her, we understand why Pan Yue would be attracted her, adding to the chemistry between the two.





Continued plot: (2 episodes on)

Pan Yue (Liu Xue Yi) reconnects with Yang Cai Wei (Zheng He Hui Zi) but Shang Guan Zhi (Ju Jing Yi), a wicked young woman in love with Pan Yue, hears that Pan Yue wants to marry Yang Cai Wei and decides to step in. Shang Guan Zhi forces a doctor to help her swap faces with Yang Cai Wei. Shang Guan Zhi, now with the face of Yang Cai Wei, impersonates the real one to marry Pan Yue. When Yang Cai Wei wakes up as Shang Guan Zhi, she rushes over to the wedding, only to see Yang Cai Wei fall from a balcony, dead in her wedding dress.  Evidently, someone wanted Yang Cai Wei dead but Shang Guan Zhi died in the new body. 

Yang Cai Wei, now in the body of Shang Guan Zhi, falls ill for a month. When she wakes, she decides to work next to Pan Yue who was sentenced to be an official in He Yang to help find who was her actual murderer. She initially thinks Pan Yue killed her. The two, Shang Guan Zhi/original Yang Cai Wei and Pan Yue start solving a number of crimes together in the town of He Yang. 

Controversy/Issues with the drama [SPOILERS AHEAD]

Ju Jing Yi vs Zheng He Hui Zi 

The plot is quite familiar to A Familiar Stranger from a few years ago. Problem is, the 3rd female lead, Zheng He Hui Zi did such an amazing job in literally 2 episodes creating a resilient, hardworking, competent, logical and enduring Yang Cai Wei that unfortunately, Ju Jing Yi is unable to match Zheng He Hui Zi’s acting capabilities. Instead, Ju Jing Yi’s version of Yang Cai Wei mirrors Ju Jing Yi’s general acting path – a woman who is spunky, active, hyper and attempts to be adorable. None of the resilience or enduring components of Zheng’s Yang Cai Wei are showcased via Ju Jing Yi. The essence is gone.  What this results in is a view that you are watching Ju Jing Yi cosplaying or taking over the body of Shang Guan Zhi, pretending to be Yang Cai Wei, but is instead just Ju Jing Yi in the role. It is highly uncomfortable since when you see Ju Jing Yi’s acting, you are constantly reminded that it’s NOT Zheng. Therefore, when I’m watching later episodes, it feels like Liu Xue YI’s Pan Yue is “cheating” on the real Yang Cai Wei. All of his internal conflict about him slowly recognizing Shang Guan Zhi is actually Yang Cai Wei doesn’t land..


If Ju Jing Yi’s acting was better, we as viewers should cheer for Pan Yue to start piecing together the similarities between the “new faced” Yang Cai Wei and the “deceased” Yang Cai Wei. But because Ju Jing Yi did not capture the essence of the real Yang Cai Wei, the feeling I get as a viewer is that I’m waiting for Zheng to return. Any good will I have for Ju Jing Yi’s Yang Cai Wei is because of how well Zheng established herself in the role in 2 episodes at the beginning. Not for her portrayal. Actually, I’m reminded of how much better A Familiar Stranger did this whole face swap thing. 


That is why, I am conflicted with what I want to give this drama as a final score. The initial 2 episodes were stellar. A disfigured young woman who faced terrible adversity in her life but managed to survive and is not pushed down by the hardships thrown at her. Even when children lob rocks at her, you can see through her gaze that she is assured of herself. While she potentially still harbors feelings for Pan Yue, she is not waiting for him to save her. With this type of female lead, it is understandable why Pan Yue, upon discovering her, is attracted to her. Her sudden death was not only a shock to Pan Yue, but also to me. I was like WTF HAPPENED???? It does feel like Yang Cai Yue actually died after those 2 episodes since Ju Jing Yi’s Yang Cai Wei is just a shadow of what could have been. 


^ I mean, just look at difference between Zheng He Hui Zi vs Ju Jing Yi. Do they even give off the same aura? No.


This seems to be the prevailing view online. On Bilibili, the “cuts” or video edits of Zheng’s Yang Cai Wei and Pan Yue from just the first 2 episodes have views in the hundreds of thousands or the millions. Many other social media influencers are also saying that Ju Jing Yi’s portrayal greatly detracts from what could have been a fantastic drama. One comment that I thought was hilarious was “Liu Xue Yi, you’ve saved me a lot of money. I don’t even need to pay for membership to see more episodes and I’m done with this drama!”. The joke being that this drama really only lasts 2 episodes for the true Yang Cai Wei and Pan Yue. The rest is more of a fluke. 


On Weibo, the trending topics are all pushing for Zheng He Hui Zi and Liu Xue Yi to do another drama together because their CP feeling or chemistry is off the charts. This is multiple days after the initial airing of the drama which again reflects on strongly people feel for the original pair. Ju Jing Yi, unfortunately, has been pushed on the backburner. Even in official photo stills or marketing material, they are now pushing Liu Xue Yi and Zheng He Hui Zi rather than Ju Jing Yi. 


I don’t think Ju Jing Yi would be very pleased to see how the popularity of this drama turned out. While yes, it is a surprise hit on Youku, breaching 10,000 on their popularity index and generally beating out the likes of Lie Yan/Burning Flames for discussion and viewership, Ju Jing Yi has been largely dismissed/ignored. Zheng He Hui Zi has amassed most of the discussion. She is someone we’ve seen in various dramas here and there. She’s perfectly fine. But when she’s in a drama like in Wonderland of Love with Jing Tian, Jing Tian is clearly the female lead. I’ve seen comments online saying that Ju Jing Yi’s acting is rigid/typecast that Zheng He Hui Zi has become, in comparison, a top notch actress. 


Ju Jing Yi’s original character of Shang Guan Zhi in the first 2 episodes as the evil woman who couldn’t get the lover she wanted was actually MUCH more interesting. The original Shang Guan Zhi was supposed to be beautiful and evil. It fit Ju Jing Yi perfectly and I wish she played that character for the full drama rather than pretend to be Yang Cai Wei.  Oh well. This could have been one of the best romance dramas of 1H2024 if only Zheng He Hui Zi stayed acting Yang Cai Wei. Or literally any one else. NOT Ju Jing Yi. 



Let me know what you think!




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