The Double (2024) 墨雨云间

Summary: Xue Fang Fei (Wu Jin Yan 吴瑾言) is happily married to Shen Yu Rong (Wu Yong Qi 吴永棋) but her world turns upside down when her husband attempts to murder her. She is rescued by the kind Jiang Li (Yang Chao Yue 杨超越) who in turns dies for rescuing her. Vowing to seek revenge for both herself and Jiang Li, Xue Fang Fei assumes the identity of Jiang Li, daughter of Chancellor Jiang, and returns to the capital amidst swirling gossip. The Duke of Su, Xiao Heng (Wang Xing Yue 王星越) is investigating the illegal salt trade but crosses paths with the now Jiang Li. He becomes more and more intrigued by this woman who he met once before. The two become more entangled as Jiang Li cuts a path to seek revenge.


Total Episode Count: 40

Initial Airing Date: June 2, 2024

Platform: Youku

*Note – English translations may not match official translations


Initial Rating [first 18 episodes]: 7.3/10 – It’s an incredibly bingeworthy revenge drama starring Wu Jin Yan who excels in a role that’s right in her wheel house. The brisk pace and handsome pairing with Wang Xing Yue makes this the dark horse of the summer.

Final Rating: 7.3/10: The drama keeps its fast pace through to the end propped up by decently complex antagonists.  This is not a drama to think too carefully on plot but remains a satisfying watch and a win for both producer Yu Zheng and actress Wu Jin Yan. 

Xue Fang Fei / Jiang Li 薛芳菲 / 姜黎

Wu Jin yan 吴瑾言

Wife of Shen Yu Rong who assumes the identity of Jiang Li after her husband attempts to murder her and Jiang Li dies trying to save her

xiao heng 萧衡

wang xing yue 王星越

Duke of Su and the son of a disgraced general. He’s on a mission to hunt down the illegal salt trade but crosses paths with Jiang Li

ye shi jie 叶世杰

chen xing hai 陈鑫海

Eldest grandson of the Ye family and cousin to Jiang Li, he must overcome prejudice against the merchant class to become a member at court

Shen yu rong 沈玉容 

wu Yong Qi 吴永棋

Ex husband to Xue Fang Fei, he engages in an affair with the Princess who orders him to murder Xue Fang Fei

ji shu ran 季淑然

chen qiao en 陈乔恩

Second wife to Chancellor Jiang and mother to Jiang Ruo Yao. She has an iron grip on the Jiang family and schemes for her Ji family

jiang ruo yao 姜若瑶

liu xie ning 刘些宁

Daughter of Ji Shu Ran and Chancellor Jiang, she’s constantly under pressure from her mother to achieve greatness

jiang yuan bai 姜元柏

su ke 苏可

Head of the Jiang family and father to Jiang Li and Jiang Ruo Yao. He means well but has been manipulated by his wife Ji Shu Ran


Initial Thoughts

This is another Yu Zheng + Wu Jin Yan pairing after the wildly popular Story of Yan Xi Palace in 2018, Legacy in 2022, and several others.  This is also another revenge story and audiences love a story where the main character is able to just hand it to the antagonists. Wu Jin Yan has the same voice dub as she had in the Story of Yan Xi Palace and it took me a few episodes to get comfortable in this drama. 王星越, the main male lead, is also everywhere these days and I personally think he’ll be the next top 流量 if he plays his cards right. 

The drama is based off of the book 嫡嫁千金, which I have read before! The author is the very popular 千山茶客. The book follows the trope of dying and reincarnating into the body of another, but for this drama the screenwriters just had the main female character 薛芳菲 Xue Fang Fei assume the identity of 姜梨 Jiang Li. I actually like this change better because I always roll my eyes when characters in the book accept the supernatural fact that someone can reincarnate into another person’s body in the same timeline.

This drama has done surprisingly well and can be considered the dark horse of the summer! This is the fastest drama this year to breach 10000 on the Youku popularity index and it has stolen quite the thunder from Fox Spirit Matchmaker: Red Moon Pact. This is a very bingeworthy drama but the viewer shouldn’t think too much about the plot or else cracks start to show.


What I liked

  • Fast Paced Plot: We have the premise of the story from the very first episode. Xue Fang Fei’s husband attempts to murder her in order to continue his affair with the princess. Xue Fang Fei is saved by Jiang Li, who in turn dies protecting her. Xue Fang Fei then assumes the identity of Jiang Li to seek revenge against her ex-husband and Jiang Li’s family. The drama just keeps its breakneck pace from there with little dallying. The stakes also high enough for the characters that I was worried as to how they would succeed (cough – looking at you Fox Spirit Matchmaker). 
  • One Word 爽 Satisfying: In Chinese, the word to describe this drama is 爽 or satisfying. The screenwriter Yu Zheng knows what the audience wants to see, which is to have the main female lead successfully dispatch her enemies through her own merit and wit. The screenwriter knows that audiences don’t want to watch the main characters suffer, so that’s provided in the first episode. It’s then just a 爽 or satisfying watch from there. Xue Fang Fei as Jiang Li is not the meek young woman who accepted subordination from her husband, but this now newly independent woman who will seize every opportunity to seek justice for her family and her friends. This is essentially the formula from The Story of Yan Xi Palace but boy does it work.
  • Wu Jin Yan!: This drama really works because Wu Jin Yan’s acting is miles better than her Wei Ying Luo days in the Story of Yan Xi Palace. I’ve seen quite a lot of discussion that her acting has improved and I agree. She’s really able to sell the conflicted but resolved woman, who has nothing, but is able to survive in the Jiang family and catch the eye of the Duke of Su. She also has that “狠” or determined gaze that makes the viewers really believe she can succeed. She also WORKS for her successes, nothing comes easy and each success is well deserved
  • Age appropriate actors: There was quite a lot of discussion during the airing of this drama of how the actors are all age appropriate, especially regarding 陈乔恩 Chen Qiao En as Ji Shu Ran. She has been in the public eye for over 2 decades and was extremely popular in the 2000s with her Taiwanese rom coms. She is the stepmother to Yang Chao Yue’s Jiang Li. Chen Qiao En is in her 40s, while Yang Chao Yue is in her 20s, and Wu Jin Yan is in her 30s. Chen Qiao En accepts an age appropriate role and literally everyone is better off for it. There’s some dramas where a 40+ year old tries to play a 20 year old, and unless there’s a large time span for the drama, it just doesn’t work. It’s rare that Chen Qiao En plays a deliciously evil character and viewers have enjoyed her portrayal. 

What Could Have Been Better

  • Cinematography: There’s a lot of weird close up shots for each of the main characters, especially Xiao Heng, that slow down the drama. I think the director wanted show the reactions of each of the characters, but I mainly was left annoyed at these shots because they are used constantly throughout the drama.
  • Makeup: This is a really minor quibble but the makeup for the Duke of Su is really jarring in several of his scenes. The eyeliner is super obvious and he’s really the only male character who has the eyeliner so it just sticks out. Add to the close up shots for the cinematography, in many of the scenes for these close up shots, I’m like…what am I looking at? His makeup? Meanwhile, Wu Jin Yan’s makeup fits her very well

Final Thoughts: 

Ultimately this was an enjoyable watch though it’s not as tightly written as a drama could be. Regardless, there was strong enough chemistry between Wu Jin Yan and Wang Xing Yue to drive the romance (despite the age difference) and Wu Jin Yan’s character is able to cross many hurdles with her own capabilities. This drama did quite well viewership and popularity wise and will most likely be YouKu’s best airing drama this year.

Other Aspects I liked

  • Memorable and complex antagonists: This drama did give enough backstory for several of the main antagonists that brought more depth to them. The evil step-mother Ji Shu Ran isn’t like that way naturally but was forced that way by her father who only cared about power and status. The princess royal similarly suffered greatly when she was married off for diplomatic reasons which drove her to insanity when she returned. As for Shen Yu Rong, he continues to find excuses for what he did, laying all the blame on other people. The most intriguing villains are those who do not believe they are villains in their own story which is certainly the case here
  • Letting the female lead drive the story: While CP fans aren’t too pleased with the limited screen time Xiao Heng got later in the drama, I actually think this was to the plot’s benefit. Many times the female protagonist is stated to be a leader but is ultimately rescued by the leading man and her value is greatly diminished. In this case, Xiao Heng really was the supporting character to Xue Feng Fei’s many plans. The result is that you DO see her as the driving force behind change and the various tactics that wins the day.  She is the bonafide female lead of this drama.



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