In the last episode, our main character had her heart broken by the young duke 齐衡 after he made the decision to marry the daughter of a Prince. While he was certainly threatened by his wife’s family, he ultimately had to back out on his promise to marry Ming Lan.
As with anyone who is undergoing heartbreak, it’s time to delete facebook, lawyer up and hit the gym. Or…in Ming Lan’s case, get sent amazing soup by another cute boy, be invited to many outings by a Countess, and plot revenge for her mother’s death. There’s absolutely too much to do to feel TOO bad about what happened.
Episode 29 starts off with guests visiting the Sheng family. Madam He, the impressive doctor, and her grandson, the handsome 贺弘文 pay a visit to Grandma Sheng and Ming Lan respectively. The young 贺弘文 is quite thoughtful. He brought fresh fish soup using fish from Ming Lan’s family home in You Yang because he knows its her favorite.
See? The young duke 齐衡 went off to marry the daughter of a prince but Ming Lan has this thoughtful doctor who remembers all of her likes and dislikes. He even joked about how he brought the fish from home just to make her smile. How sweet is that. With this visit, she is finally feeling a little better about it all and ready to face the world.
Shortly after, 明兰 visits her maternal aunt who is currently still staying at 三清 Temple. I personally feel like this is rather odd. She’s a woman who has been over here for several months so not entirely sure why or how she has the ability to take such a long extended leave but anyways, that’s neither here nor there. Ming Lan’s maternal aunt is rather anxious to see what the next steps are for Ming Lan on avenging her mother. Ming Lan though, just focuses on brewing tea. Once done, she toasts her mother, her aunt and herself and then gets up to leave. Her aunt is confused. Ming Lan brews tea and that’s it? But ths cup of tea is actually for Ming Lan to become resolute in her next steps. In my view, it’s her way of saying, I’m ready for battle.
Sure enough, right after she departs from her aunt, Ming Lan runs into none other than the Countess of Yong Chang. She’s the one who hosted the polo match back in episode 16 and has since then been quite taken with this young woman, Ming Lan. She wants Ming Lan for a daughter in law and now that Qi Heng has gone off and married someone else, this is her chance. She speaks to Ming Lan about hosting another polo match in the near future. Ming Lan at first is rather hesitant to attend because it would not reflect well if she went and her sisters did not. The Countess, not missing a beat, decides to invite all of the Sheng daughters so that she can spend time with Ming Lan.
Such a grand invitation cannot go unnoticed by the rest of the family so of course, Madame Wang and Mistress Lin, who have certainly been put on the back burner the last few episodes are back at it again with trying to figure out how to match their daughter with such a wealthy husband.
At the polo match, Ming Lan takes to the field but isn’t have a great day so she spends some time with the Countess and her sisters. The Countess’s handsome son, 梁晗 is on the field and the object of everyone’s attention. 明兰‘s sisters 如兰 and 墨兰 behave as they always do, bickering with not so veiled insults while the Countess and Ming Lan just smile serenely at the scene.
Seeing that 梁晗 dismounted his horse after a well played match, 墨兰 who is in a bright pink outfit which to me is actually quite gaudy, gets up and says she is going to change aka use the restroom so she is excused. What she’s really trying to do is to sneak into the poetry meeting full of men so as to spend some time with 梁晗。
Ming lan followed 墨兰 and stops her before she can make it to the poetry meeting. It’s not that Ming Lan actually cares, but there is a clear delineation that the poetry meeting is for men only. If 墨兰 went, she would lose face for the Sheng family as the Sheng family would seem to not know manners. Does 墨兰 care though? Of course not. She only has her sights set on finding a good husband.
So what does 明兰 do? This quirky girl actually grabs a pile of mud and chucks it at her sister. Now her sister can’t go to the event with her clothes are dirty. 墨兰 is of course furious but can’t really refute what happened because deep down she knows that what she’s doing is out of decorum. So she can only be angry at her sister for stopping her.
After the match, we get a conversation between the Countess and her son. We’re finally unveiling exactly why the Countess is so enamored with trying to get Ming Lan for a daughter in law. It sounds like 梁晗 is already spending a lot of quality time with another young woman so 明兰 would marry in as the primary wife, but there would be other women in the household. Sounds like quite the mess already.
An interesting line in the drama is that Liang Han asks his mother if 齐衡 already chose 明兰 for a concubine. He does not think 明兰’s birth matches his so he doesn’t even think of saying, did 齐衡 pick her as his wife. Sure, it might also be due to the fact that everyone knows 齐衡 is going to marry the daughter of a Prince but I thought that was interesting. The Countess has no qualms whatsoever with Ming Lan being a 庶女 instead of a 嫡女 and I appreciate that the Countess is able to see what a great person Ming Lan is. Too bad 梁晗 doesn’t care. He thinks their family would be looked down upon if they married 明兰 but his mother is like, um are you kidding me? Now you care about your reputation? You spending so much time with this other woman is enough to lose face for the family already. And to that, I agree. The Countess might be able to accurately see the qualities in Ming Lan but she did not raise an upstanding son. Her son is a playboy and actually insists on marrying 墨兰 instead of 明兰 if he HAD to marry a Sheng family daughter.
The Countess, though, adamantly refuses. She can see right through 墨兰‘s character as a gold digger but what can she do? Her son just likes that type of woman.
But the fun continues as the Countess continues to send invitations to the Ming Lan but this time, it’s made plain to both Madame Wang and Mistress Lin that she only cares about Ming Lan. For one event, Madame Wang said that her daughter Ru Lan is sick so she can’t attend and the Countess responded that it’s ok, Ming Lan can come by herself. This news spreads quickly and infuriates both mothers. Mistress Lin and Mo Lan in particular cannot fathom why the Countess thinks so highly of Ming Lan. They even request Sheng Hong to allow Mo Lan to go to the event with Ming Lan which is quickly refuted by Madame Wang because if her daughter can’t go, why would she bring Mo Lan, another 庶女 to the event.
It’s honestly so satisfying to see 墨兰 this agitated. She is such a bully to Ming Lan but for her to be put in her place like this is *chef kiss. This is clearly a part of Ming Lan’s plan though as she further adds fuel to the fire. One night after returning from an event, the three daughters are told to chat at Grandma Sheng’s place. Madame Wang was the one to take Ming Lan to yet another event through Countess Wu’s invitation. Madame Wang recounts all the people they’ve met while Ming Lan shares all of the grand gifts Countess Wu gave her to both 如兰 and 墨兰 who doesn’t accept, and also notes all of the sons and daughters of counts and earls she’s spoken to as Countess Wu told her she needed to be more learned about society.
This causes 墨兰 to storm off in a huff.
Episode 29 ends with Grandma Sheng questioning Ming Lan as to why she is purposefully agitating her sister. 明兰 doesn’t explain much beyond not being satisfied anymore with constantly be bullied. She has to stand up for herself at some point right?
Episode 30, the conflict reaches a boiling point as 明兰 continues to gift the gifts she received from Countess Wu to her 2 sisters. 如兰 is quite the gem as she accepts all of the gifts willingly. In her mind, she has no issue with Ming Lan marrying into the Liang Family because she recognizes how tough it is to be the wife of such a family. Her oldest sister is accomplished, graceful, and educated, but she is still bullied and belittled daily in her family. Ru Lan does not want to live that type of life. This attitude is quite admirable and is something we should all reflect on ourselves. Sure it’s great to have titles and wealth but at what cost?
墨兰 though does not see it this way at all. She’s in her room throwing a huge temper tantrum. Breaking jewelry left right and center. When one of Ming Lan’s maids comes to gift 墨兰 some fabrics, 墨兰 has reached her limit. She cannot stand 明兰 showing off in such a way. She insults the maid, even slaps her across the face and storms over to Ming Lan’s quarters. Once there, she is hurling the worst insults at her own sister for showing off the way she does. Some choice words include calling Ming Lan a prostitute which, you don’t need me to tell you that it is not something you say to your sister.
Ming Lan though seems to want to further antagonize 墨兰 because she, on the surface apologizes, but then says, sister, if you’re upset at not being invited to these events, dont’ worry. I’ll ask Countess Wu to invite you. She listens to everything I say so I’m sure you’ll receive an invite.
Hahahahahahaha. What a schemer Ming Lan. Everything you say is so calm but the underlying meaning is not lost on 墨兰.
墨兰 then lunges towards 明兰 and the sisters plus their maids get into quite the catfight. For some reason, this fight is so amusing because I guess in these dramas we’re used to you know kung fu and choreographed fights but this drama shows us what it’s really like when young women fight each other. It’s lots of screaming and grabbing and none of it is very graceful. 墨兰 though grabs a broken piece of ceramic from a shattered bowl and actually swipes at 明兰’s face. This shows us that Mo Lan has broken through a limit of what’s acceptable vs what is not. Ming Lan’s face now has a long gash and she starts bleeding.
Madame Wang heard the commotion and arrived to separate the sisters. But she’s not effective as Mistress Lin also arrived to save her daughter from punishment. *Sigh. Madame Wang really cannot get anything done. Fortunately, Grandma Sheng’s head made steps in to take hold of the situation. First, she tells Madame Wang to head back. While it seems that this is doing a favor to Mistress Lin and Mo Lan, the maid says that Mo Lan is to wait under watch by Grandma Sheng’s maids until further questioning.
When Sheng Hong returns, he brings Mo Lan and Ming Lan out to explain what happened. The devious Mo Lan cries fake tears as she twists what happened to make it seem like Ming Lan was the one to hurl insults and to instigate the fight. She tries to make the attack an accident. Ming Lan finally stands up for herself to decry everything that Mo Lan has said.
Here is where Ming Lan is showing her scheming side. She purposefully brings up that Mo Lan is probably upset at her because she threw mud at Mo Lan’s skirt. Her father then says, just for this tiny mishap, you want to seek revenge against your sister? To which 墨兰 responds, Ming Lan did this on purpose so that I am humiliated in front of other people.
Mistress Lin actually calls Mo Lan in an effort to stop her from talking. Why? Because Mo Lan just admitted that this indeed actually happened where Ming Lan threw mud on her dress. Sheng Hong then turns to Ming Lan again. Ming Lan says, yes, I did this on purpose. But I do not regret doing it. She then directly states that the signs clearly stated that the area was for men only. Kong Momo taught them that if one person did something to lost face for the family, then everyone loses face for the Sheng family. She couldn’t allow her sister to lose face for the Sheng family. This conversation was done skillfully. She first set up the trap where Mo Lan confirms that there was this event that happened, and then Ming Lan brings up the most important thing Sheng Hong cares about which is the Sheng Family reputation. Ming Lan protected the family’s reputation which he should be thankful for. A great way to ensure that Sheng Hong believes her rather than Mo Lan as is customary.
At this point, Mo Lan screams at Ming Lan for making this up but Sheng Hong has had enough. Grandma Sheng even then tells her maid to bring out the evidence which shows the shard of ceramic used to slash Ming Lan’s face was clearly imprinted on Mo Lan’s hand. Now, there’s no refuting the fact that Mo Lan was the one who purposefully slashed Ming Lan.
For once, Sheng Hong actually punishes Mo Lan with 20 slaps to her hand and to kneel in the ancestral shrine until further notice. This is the most severe punishment Mo Lan has ever received and if it wasn’t clear, all thanks to Ming Lan’s plot. It is soooo satisfying to hear this but also I’m like, Mo Lan, can you please stop crying. You are soooo annoying.
Grandma Sheng stops by to see Ming Lan after all that’s happened and to help her put on medicine to prevent scarring. Only here do we find out exactly why Countess Wu wants Ming Lan for a daughter in law. Listen up, never underestimate how much information your servants can discover for you because Ming Lan now knows that it’s because Liang Han made a mistake and needs a tough wife to manage the household. As we heard in episode 29, he has a mistress named 春珂 who is threatening to kill herself if not let into the household. Countess Wu is doing everything she can to find a proper daughter-in-law first in order to prevent such a humiliating story from becoming public. That’s why she’s so eager to have Ming Lan. She thinks she can manage this swamp of a household for her son. Ming Lan though is smart enough to know this is a trap waiting for her. She shares as much with her grandmother who takes comfort in knowing her granddaughter isn’t taking this too seriously.
After Ming Lan goes to sleep though, Grandma Sheng questions one of Ming Lan’s maids. She is detecting that there’s a particular reason why Ming Lan is on the attack against Mo Lan. Historically, she’s always been nonconfrontational but why now? The maid 翠微 doesn’t know either. There’s not much more to do other than continue to watch.
With such a harsh punishment, Mistress Lin cannot just stand there to see her daughter continue to suffer. So. she deploys her usual tactic of fake tears, saying she’ll also take her daughter’s punishment and then fake fainting to garner her husband’s sympathy. This time, he is not TOO interested in listening to what she has to say but ultimately falls under her wiley charms once again. He understands that the main reason this conflict happened is because the daughters are anxious about marriage and so he agrees to help Mo Lan personally identify a good match.
This appeases Mistress Lin until a few days later, does Sheng Hong reveal that the man he has in mind for Mo Lan is a student named 文炎敬。 He comes from a family of farmers but are studious. He is young but quite talented and sure to pass the imperial examinations to become an officer in the imperial court. This shocks the materialistic Mistress Lin who only cares about the guys status and wealth. Upon hearing that this 文炎敬 character has neither, she is outright furious. She wants nothing but the best for her daughter and does not agree to this match. Sheng Hong though, says this guy is upstanding and has a great future ahead of him. But does Mistress Lin care? Absolutely not. In the next episode, we’ll see how this impacts Mo Lan’s behavior.
The episode ends with Ming Lan’s maid Xiao Tao grumbling that it’s unfair Mo Lan has already been released from her punishment. 明兰 is rather calm about this and says it looks like this mistake was not big enough. Then lets make the mistake even bigger. From this, we clearly see that she plotted for this type of response from Mo Lan all along but the suffering she received is not enough to push her father to punish Mo Lan or Mistress Lin enough. There must be further action.
And so…more misdirection continues. Mo Lan finds out that Ming Lan’s maids have new clothes because Madame Wang wants the maids to look more proper now that the Countess visits the household quite often. Clearly not learning anything from her punishment, is curious why no one told her the Countess has been visiting and is now 100% worried Ming Lan will become the daughter in law to a countess.
In the next episode, we will see what steps Mo Lan will take now that she technically has a match from her father but is not one that’s wealthy enough to meet her standards.
That was quite a lot of drama in these 2 episodes so here are some of my thoughts.
Firstly, I’m going to ridicule Liang Han. He is the epitome of what in Chinese is called a 纨绔子弟 or translated into English, is a wealthy player. These are men who have money but don’t study and prefer spending money on drinks and women than anything proper. Sure, he’s handsome but we know that he’s also made the mistake of having concubines without getting married first. We saw how earlier in the drama, Gu Ting Ye was skewered by his family for having children outside of wedlock and this Liang Han is no different. I’m also annoyed that he doesn’t seem to care about how this has impacted his family’s reputation so it’s up to his mother to wipe his butt. Is this what happens when you have a very capable mother? Clearly the Countess reads people well. She sees the valuable qualities in Ming Lan when no one else does and dislikes Mo Lan for all the right reasons. Liang Han, on the other hand, does not. Plus, he’s also a hypocrite. He can demean Ming Lan all he wants for being of low birth but he himself doesn’t care about his concubine nor Mo Lan as long as it fits his interest. Note to self, stay away from handsome, wealthy men like him.
That brings me to the next topic of how wealth and status has blinded Mo Lan and her mother Mistress Lin. The rest of the Sheng family – Sheng Hong, Madame Wang, Ru Lan, Grandma Sheng and Ming Lan, are all happy to not marry into the Liang family because they recognize something is off. Madame Wang and Ru Lan don’t know the truth as to why Countess Wu wants Ming Lan but they’re not giving Ming Lan a hard time because Ru Lan at least recognizes she doesn’t have what it takes to manage this type of household nor does she want to suffer for the rest of her life. Ming Lan and Grandma Sheng are the same. Mo Lan and Mistress Lin do not care about that whatsoever. A lifetime of unhappiness is worth it as long as there’s status and wealth. I’m most impressed by Madame Wang actually for her views here. She may be narrow minded and likes to fight Mistress Lin, but she is focused on her daughter’s happiness more than anything. This type of attitude is to be commended.
Overall though, while yes, Ming Lan had to suffer a scratch to her face, it’s been fantastic to see her on the offensive rather than the defensive. SHe knows exactly what buttons to push in order to make Mo Lan into a jealous demon and Ming Lan does it beautifully. It’s so satisfying to watch. This is what happens when you have heartbreak! Ming Lan doesn’t even have the time to think about 齐衡 which is great. Taking all of that energy and time and turn it towards leveling herself up and seeking revenge against her mother. Her ultimate goal is to see the downfall of Mistress Lin. We saw that we’re not there yet, but the groundwork is being laid to one day get there.
There’s not a lot of history in these two episodes as it is focused on revenge but there were 2 lines that Liang Han recited after he finished with his polo match and headed towards a poetry meeting. His servant noted Liang Han is very productive attending these two events and Liang Han said that 书中自有黄金屋, 书中自有颜如玉. These are two famous lines from a poem called 励学篇 which translates more or less to a Studying Encouragement Poem. It was written by 宋真宗 the 3rd emperor of the Song dynasty.
The full poem is this:
This is a very famous poem or at least the two lines recited by 梁晗 are. It’s this Emperor’s way of describing just how important studying is. Within books, you will receive grain, grand houses, and beauties. That is to say, if you study hard and pass the imperial exams, you will get everything you want. Money, houses, food and women. What more could you want? Right? I would say this is a rather simple poem but manifests pretty much why most people study. It is a little odd for Liang Han to recite this poem since he has money and can have many women but I guess its to show he actually has an interest in being educated.
We will see what shenanigans Ming Lan has in store for Mo Lan and Mistress Lin in the next episode. My patience with them is at its limit so I’m sure Ming Lan is eager see their downfall.