[Cathy]

Welcome to Chasing Dramas! This is the podcast that discusses Chinese history and culture through Chinese TV shows! I’m Cathy and I’m Karen. Today, We’re going to talk about episode 41+ 42 of 后宫甄嬛传, Empresses in the Palace.

 

[Karen]

We’re quite a few episodes in and I realized that as much as this podcast is about Chinese history and culture, it’s also about chasing the drama, fangirling about certain actors/actresses, and doing a ton of in depth character analysis. Let’s just say – being nerds because we love it.

I’m very excited to discuss these 2 episodes. They are what I consider the resolution to probably the most exciting parts of this drama. After this the mood totally shifts because…spoiler alert… the fantastic 华妃 is no longer. We’re sad about that which is why we are doing a ton of analysis for these 2 episodes. 

 

[Cathy]

The drama is currently available on YouTube if you would like to rewatch and or follow along. If you’re new to the podcast, please start with our intro to the podcast and intro to the drama episodes. If you have any comments/questions, please email us at chasingdramaspodcast@gmail.com. Share this podcast with your friends!

Today in this episode – We will say goodbye to one of our main characters and fan favorites. We knew this was going to happen. 

The three key events to discuss today:

  1. The Death of 襄嫔 – real name – 曹琴默
  2. The introduction of a new Manchurian concubine, 祺贵人 – Real name, 瓜尔佳 – 文鸢
  3. The Death of 华妃 or now 年答应 – real name – 年世兰

 

[Karen]

In a change to how we normally do these episodes, we are going to discuss the events surrounding these 3 ladies, and then some analysis so it won’t be a straight recap of the episodes and analysis afterwards.

Let’s start off with 襄嫔。

In episode 41 + 42, we see her sudden rise and sudden death. 

In episode 41, the newly promoted 襄嫔 is plotting her own next move. She was previously 曹贵人, an ally of 华妃 but betrayed her and was luckily promoted by the Emperor as a reward for revealing all of 华妃’s evil deeds. Look at 襄嫔! Look how lavish she’s dressed! Especially with her hair accessories! The thing is, she’s ambitious – she wants to become a Consort or 妃 and even Noble Consort or 贵妃。Everything she does is for her daughter 温宜. As a lowly noble lady, her daughter would most likely have been sent away to marry a lowly lord or as a marriage alliance. 襄嫔 needs to rise up the ranks to protect her daughter. As for her alliance with 甄嬛, 襄嫔 knows full well that 甄嬛 cannot be trusted。 She goes so far as to say if 甄嬛 blocks her path to becoming 妃, or a Consort, she will not hesitate to attack 甄嬛. Will 襄嫔 or her maiden name 曹琴默 get to see her move up the ranks? 

 

[Cathy]

Little does she know that her husband and her mother in law, the emperor and empress dowager have other thoughts.

Next we have a scene with the Emperor discussing matters of court and the Imperial Harem with his mother the Empress Dowager. The General 年羹尧 has died. The once mighty 华妃 is now a lowly 2st class female attendant or 年答应. The Emperor believes if 年答应 doesn’t cause any further ruckus in the Imperial harem, he’ll let her live with at least a Noble lady title. I mean look, that’s pretty lenient of him. This is exactly why 甄嬛 nudges 襄嫔 in the next scene。 Everyone wants this woman dead but the emperor doesn’t have the full heart to kill 年答应。Clearly, he feels bad for how he tricked this poor woman for many years. Even though he knows she is a terrible person, but she loved him and he was never true to her. 

The Empress Dowager also commends the Emperor for the way he handled 襄嫔’s promotion. He bluntly tells her and us the audience that he knew full well 襄嫔 was in cahoots with 年答应 but he needed her to serve as the witness in order to clean 年答应’s faction in the Imperial Harem. See? Nothing escapes their eyes.

Funnily though , the way mother and son talk about the Imperial Harem, it’s so, what’s the word? Business-like? Aloof? The Empress Dowager tells the Emperor it’s best not to favor 襄嫔 anymore. He should even stop giving 甄嬛 information about court! It’s dangerous. Once again, he has to calculate every move he makes in order to balance both the court and his harem. That’s why in Chinese, you have the front court and the “back palace”. In English it sounds so odd but in Chinese it makes sense. The empress dowager constantly reminds the Emperor that he cannot have true feelings – we see exactly why. If he had true feelings for 年答应, he wouldn’t have been able to use her and her brother as effectively. Though, I think the Emperor is a little annoyed at his mother’s comments because then he says, I just destroyed 年羹尧’s faction. There are other groups in court that becoming like his, I need to destroy them one by one. 

 

[Karen]

Moving on, we see that 襄嫔 is watching her daughter 温宜 play in the snow when 甄嬛 comes to say hi. They briefly discuss the gossip of a new Noble Lady 祺贵人 joining the Imperial Harem. Suddenly, the princess 温宜 slips but is saved by the sickly 端妃. 襄嫔 rushes over. This particular scene is hilarious. I love how she tries to walk over to her daughter but almost trips because of the flower bottom shoes she wears. It’s a real struggle for the actresses. I don’t know how ladies stayed upright in those shoes in winter.

甄嬛 seeing that 端妃’s clothes got slightly soiled, invites her to her palace to change. 端妃 leaves first, giving 甄嬛 a chance to finish her conversation with 襄嫔.  [UMMM i don’t think so – 甄嬛 purposefully wants to talk to 端妃 so she makes an excuse]

The two cunning ladies in the imperial harem have a nice chat. 襄嫔 shares her ambition of next becoming a consort in order to help her daughter secure a better future. 甄嬛 says she understands – I mean, it makes sense. 甄嬛 also explains why the emperor gave 襄嫔 the title of 襄。 襄 means to help. With the front court already having enough evidence or support to remove 年羹尧, the emperor needed someone to help him in the imperial harem. 曹贵人 now 襄嫔 fills that role of the helper. Now, the key here is that 甄嬛 says 年答应 is still a concubine which means not much can be done to not lose too much face. 襄嫔 gets the hint and ushers 甄嬛 to see 端妃.

Interestingly, we hear that 襄嫔 isn’t really educated, at least in books, which is why she doesn’t understand what 襄 means. 

Look here, 曹贵人, now 襄嫔 is extremely sharp. She, taking 甄嬛’s hint, thinks she needs to convince the emperor to kill 年答应。However, I believe 甄嬛 is taking this opportunity, to remove 曹贵人 as well. It’s really subtle but I feel like 甄嬛 is nudging 襄嫔 to help kill 年答应 but that results in continued displeasure by the emperor. It will not turn out well for 襄嫔。

甄嬛 returns to chat with 端妃. She makes a curious comment to her. She says Princess 温宜 is so cute but I wonder how she’ll turn out with a mother like 襄嫔. What would happen if she were to have another mother? Foreshadowing much?

In the very next scene, 襄嫔’s own maid is pouring some suspicious powder into a brew for 襄嫔. 襄嫔 doesn’t look too well…

 

[Cathy]

Later on we have a scene where, In a surprising move, though mostly guided by 甄嬛’s words, 襄嫔 openly voices her recommendation to kill 年答应. She says – such an evil woman cannot be allowed to live in the Imperial Harem. The Emperor hears this and walks away muttering – you really are ruthless to 襄嫔. I don’t think this had the intended result 襄嫔 was hoping for.

The Emperor once again chats with his mother the Empress Dowager 太后. This time, they’re discussing 襄嫔. Her words have irked the Emperor. He cannot have a traitor who openly wishes for her old master’s death around. This will be dangerous for the Imperial Harem. Again, it doesn’t even feel like they’re talking about people, just chess pieces. The Emperor at least worries about his daughter not having a mother but the Empress Dowager just says – there are plenty of women in the Imperial Harem without daughters. We’ll just have to find 温宜 another mother. Well that’s settled. 

The end result? 襄嫔 dies off screen – 甄嬛 secretly tells 端妃 that this was the Emperor’s orders. This is the same as what happened to 年世兰. The doctors were told to keep everything quiet. Can you believe it though? It was 襄嫔’s own personal maid that did this.

The princess 温宜 now has no mother. 甄嬛 recommends for 端妃 to foster her. This is the last time 襄嫔 is mentioned. We no longer see 温宜 on screen anymore either – though she’s mentioned in the drama. Again – she’s super cute!

襄嫔 – 曹琴默

 

[Karen]

Let’s talk about this woman. She is a noble lady for the majority of the time we see her. She finally ends up as a 嫔 which means she can control her own palace only to be poisoned by her own husband. 

Her fate was determined well before her betrayal of 华妃. 

When we were first introduced to her, she’s the less pretty ally to 华妃 who also had 丽嫔 in her posse. 曹贵人 is unique in that she at least has a child, which we now know is very rare in the palace thanks to how the Empress runs the harem.

From the get go we learn/see that 曹贵人 is cunning. Time and again, 甄嬛 almost gets punished because of events plotted by 曹贵人。

Sure, 曹琴默 was doing 华妃’s bidding but in episode 17, 瑾汐, 甄嬛’s main maid said something very important – people who care about riches and money will never get far. This was in response to a very unique/expensive fragrance 甄嬛 gifted 曹琴默 in an effort to root out who was the spy in her group. Remember, that spy turned out to be her half sister, 浣碧.

This observation by 瑾汐 is very astute. 曹琴默 cares about her daughter which is true, but in these few episodes, she reiterates many times how much she wants to “climb” the ladder in the imperial harem. She’s not happy to just be a 嫔, she wants more. It’s evident with her hair decorations immediately becoming more extravagant once she is no longer under 华妃’s control. Her greed blinded her to observing the emperor’s feelings towards 华妃。If she had stopped talking, just kept her mouth shut about 华妃, she may not have been killed. But because she kept on saying terrible things towards her former master, it just increased the disgust by the emperor and the empress dowager. The people who stay alive in the imperial palace, or at least live peacefully and rise through the ranks – such as 敬妃 and 端妃, plus 甄嬛, are the ones who aren’t greedy. They just let everything be.

I explained that 甄嬛 nudged 曹琴默 to step on 华妃。 I don’t know if 甄嬛 knew the end result of her nudge was to get 曹琴默 killed, but 曹琴默 ‘s greed pushed her to this step. Some comments also say that 曹琴默 is generally extremely smart. Saying such negative things about her former master was out of character for her and probably only happened because the writers needed her to die. I personally don’t think so. I think this is in character for her. She doesn’t know why the emperor is so lenient on 华妃 with the whole special fragrance and causing her infertility so 曹琴默 can’t understand why the emperor would be annoyed with her. He already killed 年羹尧 and pretty much all the key clan members. Why would he keep 华妃 alive? She focused too much on her own fortune to notice anything else. Unfortunately, she fell into 甄嬛’s trap.

 

[Cathy]

From a political perspective, 曹琴默 was never destined for greatness. She comes from a Han Banner (as evident by her last name). Different characters always call out her family’s lack of position at court so we can assume her family is neither powerful nor wealthy. She doesn’t have a family to give her support in the imperial harem or to help attract the emperor’s attention. While this is not always beneficial as is the case with 华妃, it would have helped a bit.

The result of all this is that her daughter will now be raised by 端妃. This was actually foreshadowed wayyy back in episode 14 I believe during 温宜’s first birthday party. 端妃 comes to the celebration where she first meets 甄嬛. At that party, 端妃 gifts 温宜 a necklace that’s very valuable. It’s at that point we are shown a strong interest or at least a stronger bond between these two. 端妃 has always liked this 温宜 princess.

Well that’s it for our analysis of 曹琴默. She started off not very interesting but dies a much more fleshed out character.

Next up! We are also introduced to 祺贵人 in episode 41!

We are at another court greeting but we see a new woman! 祺贵人 is portrayed by the lovely 唐艺昕. This I think was her first drama! She was 22 or so at the time. 祺贵人 comes from the Bordered Yellow Banner so she is Manchurian. Her maiden name is 瓜尔佳·文鸳, of the 瓜尔佳 clan which is very highly regarded. She was selected to come to the palace due to her father’s contribution in bringing down 年羹尧 and his faction. In this episode alone, we learn quite a lot about her. Her attitudes, her intelligence, and her abilities. Can’t wait to discuss! To our listeners, this 祺 means good luck or good fortune. It sounds the exact same as 齐 for 齐妃, the doltish mother of the 3rd prince. These two ladies will never have the same rank so hopefully it won’t get too confusing.  

At an imperial harem greeting, The other concubines start gossiping. The older ladies don’t seem to care too much but 甄嬛 looks rather glum. I think she’s slightly jealous at what she knows will come. Outside, 甄嬛 and 沈眉庄 are heading back together but is stopped by the new 祺贵人. She just wants to say hello yadiyada. Ugh, 安陵容 is sulking in the back. I think she again is thinking, why doesn’t anyone want to talk to me???

 

[Karen]

To no ones surprise, the Emperor does indeed pick 祺贵人 for the evening. We haven’t seen a scene like this in a while but she follows the tradition of being rolled up in the bed covers and carried to the emperor’s bed. It’s hilarious.  What is surprising is that the next day, she has moved into 碎玉轩 甄嬛’s palace. In her own rooms, this 祺贵人is plotting her next move. She has it figured out – get close to 甄嬛. The Emperor likes 甄嬛 so living close to her will be very advantageous.

Ok – so far so good. She seems to know how the game works in the Imperial Harem.

Next – 祺贵人 pays a visit to the Empress. The Empress pretty much lays it out – the 2 of them are from the Manchu banners. All of the other favored ladies are from the Han banners. The Manchu banners must be represented in the Imperial Harem. Here is a little bit of political discrimination happening that we haven’t talked about in a while as well. The Han, Manchu divide simply permeates the Qing dynasty. Then the Empress offers some pretty sage advice. To become a favored concubine, watch how others become a favored concubine. I don’t know if 祺贵人 will take that advice but she does seem like she listened. 

 

[Cathy]

Outside, 祺贵人 encounters the demoted 年答应.  祺贵人 roundly scolds 年答应 for not curtseying and begins to mock her for her misfortunes. Let’s look at how 年答应 responds. How are you any different from me? You came to the Imperial Palace due to your family’s influence. Enjoy your dream. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up like me. The Empress and 甄嬛 were no match for me. I’ll see about you. 祺贵人 is very much annoyed but she doesn’t have a retort. 年答应, despite her rank, is still as proud and as haughty as ever. I love the smirk she has on her face when addressing 祺贵人.

Why is 年答应 so upset? It’s because she’s burning paper money for her family. The only person left with her is 颂芝. 年答应’s entire family has died and she knows there’s no hope for left in the Imperial Harem. She turns her bitterness and hatred towards 甄嬛. There’s one eunuch that she’s planted in 甄嬛’s palace. It’s time to use him to seek revenge.

Things move along quickly in the next few scenes. 祺贵人 tattles to the Emperor about her encounter with 年答应. The Emperor’s conviction against 年答应 seems to be falling. He keeps making comments that oh she really isn’t too bad. I just want her to stay quiet and she’ll live… He feels bad for how he treated her and completely disregards how she has treated other people in the imperial harem.

 

[Karen]

The Empress has invited the ladies of the Imperial Harem to the opera but 甄嬛 doesn’t join. She has her own plans for the evening. Well there’s always something of note at the opera and today doesn’t disappoint. When I first watched this scene, I wasn’t sure on how cunning the new 祺贵人 was. There were flashes of brilliance but this scene sealed the deal for me. She’ll just be the next dumber 华妃. Why? Let’s see.

祺贵人 voices their good fortune to have the Empress in charge of the Imperial Harem. The Empress waves off these compliments. She says – we are all sisters. We should take care of each other. There’s some back and forth between the ladies. The Empress states – With the way you all are chatting, I am reminded of my own family. It’s pleasant.

Here comes the kicker from 祺贵人. She says – Dear Empress, as long as you don’t think we’re too chatty. When I’m at home, I can never talk to my two bastard sisters or 庶出 sisters but when I see you Empress, I feel like I can tell you everything. 

Uh oh – look at everyone’s face. The word in Chinese 祺贵人 uses is 庶出 – which means, not born from the main wife. 祺贵人 quickly realizes her mistake and immediately falls to her knees to beg for forgiveness. I love Ada Choi’s (The Empress’s) acting here. Her gaze stays straight, her face is still serene, but her eyes and her voice (well, her dub) turn steely. She simply responds – we are all sisters in the Imperial Harem, I will not quibble. 

 

[Cathy]

Why is this comment so problematic? It’s because the Empress herself is not born from the main wife. She is only 庶出. This fact has and always will be her biggest trigger. With this phrase, 祺贵人, just lowered the Empress’s status to that of her two 庶出 sisters. How dare she? 祺贵人 is also inadvertently hinting that she looks down at people who are 庶出, which now includes the Empress. The callous way 祺贵人 said this phrase was also unbelievable. She didn’t think twice!

When 华妃 was at the height of her powers, she would constantly use this as ammunition to belittle the Empress. In Imperial China, being a bastard or 庶出 was a stain on anyone’s birth. Of course the Empress is pissed!

I read one of the comments on YouTube which i think is so apt! When 祺贵人 said her comment about her own sisters, there was a zoom in on 齐妃’s face. The YouTube comment was 齐妃’s finally can think, WOW someone is dumber than me in the palace! Hahahaha. So yea, at first I thought 祺贵人 would be a legitimate threat but after this, nah…

The Empress expresses her anger at 祺贵人 once she’s back in her own palace with 安陵容. She even says that we desperately need women like 祺贵人 in the palace – women who are pretty but also stupid. I love that the empress immediately was like “YUP” – she’s stupid. But, the Empress is more or less over it. Who cares if you have a low birth? I am still the Empress! 

So to recap – this new woman is in the imperial harem who has a powerful family but is not sharp. She’s arrogant but pretty. She will be joining 皇后’s posse with 安陵容.

 

[Karen]

And now!!! Lets discuss the fan favorite – 华妃 – 年世兰。

We mentioned her throughout this episode already but let’s get to the meat of her death and also analyze this truly heartbreaking woman. 

Her death plays out through the end of episode 41 and the first half of episode 42. 

沈眉庄 is playing Chinese Go at 甄嬛’s palace while all of the other ladies were watching opera. 甄嬛’s head eunuch comes into declare 年答应’s spy looks like he’s about to start a fire. This is an opportunity from heaven! 甄嬛 orders everyone to play their part – the fire must be lit but make sure to catch the culprit.  

Why does this have to happen? Technically, 甄嬛 already knows someone is trying to burn her place down. She could avoid the fire right?  A key theme throughout this drama is that you have to let something get really bad before a really impactful punishment will be made. The goal for both 甄嬛 and 沈眉庄 is to get 华妃 -or now 年答应 killed. As of right now, the emperor isn’t willing to do so because he is starting to feel sympathetic. The 2 ladies need to put the nail in the coffin. That is why 甄嬛 actively dumps oil onto her materials so that the fire will be more devastating.

沈眉庄, seeing that revenge is in sight, willingly burns herself to play her part. Parts of 甄嬛’s palace is severely burned and the Emperor rushes to see the remnants. Thankfully none of the ladies are harmed except for 沈眉庄。Her acting is so great – she’s shivering in the snow, playing up her part as the victim.

甄嬛’s eunuch brings the captured culprit. The Emperor’s head eunuch 苏培盛 immediately recognizes the man as someone from 年答应’s palace. The fire and this eunuch is the one two punch. This is concrete evidence that 年答应 will still try to murder people for her own means. Whatever sympathies the Emperor did have are now gone. The Emperor coldly declares to the group – get this culprit’s confession. If 年答应 did order this, kill her. No need to report to me.

As soon as the Emperor leaves, we see a close up of 沈眉庄. Her tears? Tears of joy.

 

[Cathy]

The Empress is livid at the events of the previous night. She must be secretly SO happy, hahahaha. 年答应 will be sentenced to death. As an act of mercy, she will be allowed a full corpse. Her options will be a dagger, poison, or a white sash. 

Before 年答应’s sentence, 甄嬛 decides to visit her one last time. The once powerful 华妃 is now imprisoned in 冷宫 or the cold palace with nothing. With all pretenses dispensed, these two ladies finally confront each other face to face. 

年答应 is bitter about the turn of events. She still doesn’t accept that she did anything wrong. She admits to the murder of 淳贵人, pushing 沈眉庄 etc but she doesn’t care. That was her power – she could do whatever she wanted. 

At this point the Emperor’s head eunuch, 苏培盛, arrives with 年答应’s three options. She, however, refuses to die. She demands the Emperor’s own Imperial Edict. If the Emperor could deliver one for my brother, why can’t he do one for me? 年答应 is grasping for that last piece of not hope but acknowledgement that the Emperor did care about her. But alas, she won’t get it.

甄嬛 orders everyone to leave for one final one-on-one conversation with 年答应. I do want to go through this scene in detail because it’s just so riveting. If you haven’t seen the scene, I recommend you watch it. It is incredible. We’ll attempt to do a re-enactment of the scene.

年答应 is still sitting imperiously in her seat, regal, upright. 甄嬛 has to deal each blow one by one. Let’s go through this scene. 甄嬛 starts. 

 

[Cathy]

Do you know why the Emperor detests you? 

 

[Karen]

He never detested me. He favored me. Whenever I made a mistake, he couldn’t stay away for too long.

 

[Cathy]

Do you know why the Emperor favored you? Because of your beauty? The Imperial Harem is never lacking in beautiful women. 

 

[Karen]

Are you saying he favored me because I was 年羹尧’s sister? Other women also have families in the military. You’re lying – he truly loved me.

 

[Cathy]

You’re right – he might have but your family’s arrogance has whittled away any love he has for you.

 

[Karen]

年答应 finally stands up to reminisce her early days as a concubine for the Emperor. He was only a prince at the time. The 4th Prince would take her riding, hunting. He said he only liked her. She hated that there were so many women. She would wait from dusk till dawn but he wouldn’t come. Do you know how it feels to wait? Of course, you’ve never loved him like I do. Then I got pregnant. The Emperor was excited but then he wasn’t. It must be because the only living son was his 3rd son. I told him, don’t worry, it’ll be a son. But, not long after, I lost my baby. It was a son!

Ugh, 蒋欣’s acting is marvelous. The way her eyes well up in tears. Absolutely heartbreaking. This entire sequence will just be of us praising the acting. 

 

[Cathy]

甄嬛 finally retorts – you lost your son, so you decided to take my child?

 

[Karen]

年答应 is beside herself – she turns 甄嬛 around, tears streaming down her face, to talk to her face to face. She spews out these words – I hate you. The Emperor has never treated any woman the same way as he treats you. I don’t ever want to wait from dusk till dawn again. I did plot to poison you but I never wanted to kill your child. 

 

[Cathy]

甄嬛 coldly responds – If it wasn’t for the 欢宜香 or perfume in your palace, how would I have miscarried?

 

[Karen]

年答应 is in disbelief. She backs away. What are you talking about?

 

[Cathy]

甄嬛 delivers the final blow. She tells 年答应 the truth – did you know that the perfume you treasured above all else contains large amounts of musk? You’ve used it for so many years, of course you will not get pregnant. You’re infertile. 

 

[Karen]

年答应 cannot believe her ears. She completely breaks down at this earth shattering news. How could it have been the Emperor? This cannot be – this is his gift! 年答应 is now hunched in the corner. 

 

[Cathy]

甄嬛 presses on – look at the power shift. She says – If it wasn’t for the Emperor, why hasn’t any Imperial Doctor told you about your condition? Even your miscarriage was ordered by the Emperor. The bowl of medicine that you drank from 端妃? That wasn’t her idea, but your beloved Emperor. 

 

[Karen]

年答应 tries to process the news. She’s still clinging on to some hope that this isn’t true. She desperately asks – why? Why would he do this to me?

 

[Cathy]

甄嬛 reveals the final secret. It’s because you are 年世兰, the brother of 年羹尧. The Emperor was never going to allow you or the 年 family to have a son. 

 

[Karen]

年答应 finally understands. Her beloved Emperor has always lied to her. All of their time together was a farce. He betrayed her, he played. Full of despair and finally hearing the truth, 年答应 can’t stop laughing. Ugh, the tears can’t stop streaming down her face. Well mine either. 

年世兰’s famous last words are – “皇上, 你害的世兰好苦”.  One translation could be – “Emperor, you’ve caused me so much pain” or “you betrayed me”。 Without any further thought, she runs headfirst to the wall and dies, leaving 甄嬛 as the only witness. 

42 episodes later – the once powerful 华妃 has finally died!

Maybe I’ve seen way too many shows and knows what happens after this but after this rewatch, she’s terrible but not that terrible? She was a product of her upbringing. She was mischievous and deadly but she truly loved the Emperor. I cannot help but feel pity for her at the end. Everything she did, the plotting, the murders, was for the Emperor to gain his love. She never once thought that the Emperor did not love her. We’ve seen how the Emperor treated everyone in the Imperial Harem like a chess piece. She just wanted him. 

In this scene, she held out hope that the Emperor would deliver that final edict; show that he cared. The only reason she was sentenced to death was because she got caught. As 甄嬛 slowly peeled the onions to reveal the truth, 年世兰’s demeanor completely changes until finally, she realizes that everything was a sham. His so called “love”, her favor, nothing was real. With the truth revealed, she lost the will to live. So she died as she lived, straightforward and unrelenting. She also died on her terms. You realize that she decided not to take any of the 3 options offered to her by the Empress. She decided to kill herself by running headlong into the wall. 

 

[Cathy]

Let’s also give a shout out to 颂芝. Despite the way 年世兰 treated her, she stuck with 年世兰 until the very end. 

甄嬛 has 端妃 over for chat and laments 年世兰’s death. The Emperor has posthumously gifted 年世兰 the title of 敦肃皇贵妃 an Imperial Noble Consort! Only one rank below the Empress! 年世兰 never reached this title in life, she only managed to get to 贵妃 or Noble Consort.

端妃 comments on the irony of the title. 敦 means gentle. When was she ever gentle? This is just for the Emperor to declare to the world that he isn’t a cold hearted man. He just killed the entire 年 family but still will honor his concubine with a high rank. Who cares about the dead? This just for the living to see. 

Phew – we close one chapter of 甄嬛’s journey with 华妃’s death. 

This character was far and away the fan favorite of the show. Everyone knew who 华妃 was. 

When the show first aired, this character was constantly quoted, memed, imitated, you name it. People loved 华妃’s attitude. She was evil but cute. She was ruthless but she at least never willingly crossed a line. The most famous quotes include 贱人就是矫情 from episode 34 and her last words here. 

In interviews, the actress 蒋欣 would constantly be asked to act out these two scenes. This was definitely her breakout role.

Even recently, there was a trending tag on Weibo called – talking to your parents with 华妃’s quotes. Some were quite hilarious. 

 

[Karen]

I want to round out this character by giving a little historical context. This drama does take a lot of liberties regarding 华妃 but this is mainly for plot purposes. In history, 年世兰’s real name is not known but she was a favored concubine and consort of the Emperor. Contrary to this drama, she did indeed have children, several in fact. 3 sons and 1 daughter. Unfortunately, none of her children lived to adulthood.  

She was also of a gentle nature, very different from 华妃. She didn’t have a special title of 华 and was just known as consort Nian or 年妃。 However, she also had poor health and her pregnancies may have contributed to her early death. She is the only woman to have been promoted to the rank of Imperial Noble Consort or 皇贵妃 during 雍正’s reign when she was alive. Unfortunately, she died shortly after her promotion. She died in the winter of 1725 as an Imperial Noble Consort not a 2nd Class Female Attendant as is in the drama. She died before her brother 年羹尧. Once again, the timeline in this drama is a little bit all over the place, but her death is within the 1725/1726 timeframe. 

The Emperor was beside himself with her death. She had an extravagant funeral. I think in history, the Emperor truly did love 年妃. The drama doesn’t explain what happens to the rest of the 年 family but in history only 年羹尧’s line was punished. The rest of the 年 family, including 年妃’s father were spared. 

 

[Cathy]

Let me quickly finish the recap for the rest of the episode. 

The Imperial Doctor 温实处 checks in on 沈眉庄. Let’s just say, she’s very busy flirting with him. She wants to continue to see him so she actually dumps her medicine out without drinking it. You go girl, whatever it takes. 

At court, the Emperor reviews the writings of one 汪景祺. He was a civil servant under the deceased general 年羹尧. Some of the writings can be construed as traitorous. He wrote things like 年羹尧 was the wisest person in the universe, the Emperor will kill you in the future etc. 

The Emperor cannot let these writings come to light. What will people think of his legacy? The man will be beheaded. His head will hang for 10 years and his family will all be banished to slave labor. The words the Emperor uses are actually written in a copy of these writings. Pretty cool. 

In this episode, we see time and again that the Emperor doesn’t care about the truth, he cares about how people will view him and his legacy. This happens one more time in this episode when he learns that the now imprisoned 10th prince has been voicing his displeasure of the Emperor’s treatment towards him and his family. With a little urging from 甄嬛, the Emperor is willing to give the 10th prince’s son an honorary title just to shut everyone up. For 甄嬛, this is the last mercy she can show to thank the 10th Prince’s wife for her act of kindness when 甄嬛 was out of favor. 

The episode ends with some promotions! The Emperor promotes 甄嬛 to a 妃 or consort. 安陵容 is promoted to a 嫔 or Imperial Concubine. 欣常在 is also promoted to a Noble Lady. 安陵容 is ecstatic with the news. She is now officially higher than 沈眉庄!

 

One of our fan favorites is finally dead. How will the story progress now that we don’t have this villain around? Tune in to find out! Thank you very much for listening today. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please email us at chasingdramaspodcast@gmail.com. Catch you all next time!