Episode 62 + 63: The Substitute Wives


[Cathy]

Welcome back to Chasing Dramas. We are your hosts, Karen and Cathy, here today to discuss Episode 62 + 63 of Empresses in the Palace, 后宫甄嬛传。


There is a lot going on in the world right now but I hope that you all can enjoy listening in this exciting explanation of the most intense episodes of the entire drama in Empresses in the Palace. What are we talking about? Why it is the accusation of adultery of Zhen Huan.


This begins in the latter half of episode 62 through the beginning of 64. We will start our discussion right around the 29th minute of episode 62 as we see on Youtube. There are many, many characters who appear in this episode so hang on tight as we go through this!


[Karen]

I think overall, this epic episode is a culmination of sorts of the two leading factions in the palace. On one side, it’s the Empress, 皇后, and the other, it’s our main character, 甄嬛。What are the 2 biggest secrets in 甄嬛’s life right now? #1 is that her twin children are not the children of the Emperors, but instead, of her lover’s, the 17th prince. The 2nd, and something that 甄嬛 doesn’t know is that her best friend 沈眉庄’s unborn child is actually the Imperial Doctor 温实初 ‘s child. Neither are the children of the emperor’s. Of course, he doesn’t know that. The only one who does know about both? The Imperial Doctor 温实初.


[Cathy]

Alrighty, where are we? 安陵容 has regained favor with the emperor after her beautiful figure skating display. 甄嬛’s is at her palace getting her nails done in the presence of her younger sister 玉娆 and 甄嬛’s trusted maid, 槿汐. 浣碧 is currently not in the palace but instead, caring for the 17th prince at his residence since he is sick. There’s a ton to unpack here in this short conversation. We’ll discuss 甄嬛’s nails in the analysis. 甄嬛 casually wonders why 祺贵人 has nuns from other temples in the palace. Who are these nuns? 槿汐 makes a curious comment – she agrees that she should have paid more attention but the Empresses ordered her to teach palace etiquette to the new maids this morning so she was unavailable. Isn’t that odd? Well before we can dwell on this, The empress’s head eunuch stops by and requests 甄嬛’s presence. 


Once at 景仁宫,or the Empress’s residence, we have the entire imperial harem there. What is happening? Immediately, the Empress asks 祺贵人 why she has gathered the entire harem together. 祺贵人 doesn’t skip a beat and says “I am accusing 熹贵妃 of adultery”.


甄嬛 is shocked and clenches the table. She’s worried her secret has been revealed. 


The Empress, putting on a show, knowingly asks 祺贵人 “This is a very serious accusation, you cannot lie about these things”. 祺贵人 then goes on, with the nudging of 宁贵人, to say that she pledges the truth on her entire family clan. If there’s any deceit in what she’s about to say, then her entire clan will cease to exist. This is a very powerful oath, so to speak, and shows the gravity of her words. In Chinese culture, having no descendents is one of the biggest sins you could have for your family. One also doesn’t make oaths lightly…


[Karen]

The Empress asks, you claim 熹贵妃 of adultery, who is the man? You look at the camera cuts to 甄嬛 and 宁贵人 who are both incredibly tense at this point.


祺贵人 then haughtily exclaims “The Imperial Doctor 温实初!”


HAHAHAHAHA


Immediately, both 甄嬛 and 宁贵人 relax. This is so funny! They both let out a sigh of relief. They both know that 祺贵人 isn’t that intelligent and now she found the wrong target. 甄嬛 doesn’t know what 祺贵人 has up her sleeve but nothing happened between her and 温实处 – she’s hoping that she’ll figure something out. 


Why does 宁贵人 or 叶澜依 seem so invested about this too? Didn’t we just see her in the last episode (episode 61) threatening 甄嬛 with a dagger? She obviously has no love for 甄嬛 but she still deeply loves the 17th Prince. Who does the 17th Prince love? 甄嬛. 叶澜依 will protect anyone that the 17th Prince cherishes, regardless if she has broken his heart. This is truly touching.  


Before we go further into this episode, let’s take a step back and identify who are all the players in the harem. 


Since 甄嬛’s return to the palace, she has been very diligent in building a network. Let’s take a look at who is now on her side:

  1. 端妃 – The more experienced and oldest consort in the palace who helped 甄嬛 defeat 华妃 when she was in power. In return, 甄嬛 helped 端妃 adopt princess 温宜  to care for, thus giving her support for her time in the palace

  2. 敬妃 – a good friend of 甄嬛’s and the adoptive mother of 甄嬛“s first daughter, 胧月。They’ve resolved their differences.

  3. 沈眉庄 – 甄嬛 ‘s childhood best friend

  4. 欣常在 – 甄嬛 helped her gain ownership of her own palace by removing the arrogant 祺贵人。

  5. 宁贵人 – 宁贵人 is the horse tamer maid that turned into a concubine. As we said, she loves the 17th prince and because she knows the 17th prince loves 甄嬛, 宁贵人 is willing to help her.

  6. 槿汐 – Her trusty maid

  7. 苏培盛 – Her trusty maid’s husband and head eunuch of the emperor

  8. 浣碧 – Her maid/half sister

  9. 玉娆 – Her youngest sister

  10. 19th prince


Now who is on the empress’s side?

  1. 安嫔 – 安陵容, former friend of 甄嬛’s but now working for the empress

  2. 瓜尔佳文鸢 – 祺贵人 – Family caused the downfall of 甄嬛’s family


Neutral – 

  1. 康常在

  2. 贞嫔


[Cathy]

Now the accusation is out, let’s see what happens.


Quite a few of the concubines step in to try to defend their side. 祺贵人 and her the neutral ladies hypothesize why this relationship is plausible while 甄嬛“s faction say it’s unwarranted speculation. 安陵容 is such the two faced b**** that she is – everything she says makes it seem like it’s in favor of 甄嬛 but really, her words just direct more speculation to 甄嬛。


祺贵人, however, comes rather prepared. She brings up that the Imperial Doctor 温实初 had previously proposed marriage to 甄嬛. There’s proof too.  祺贵人 brought one of 甄嬛’s old maids from when she was growing up, 玢儿, to confirm this fact. However, this fact doesn’t hold much water. 玢儿 even acknowledges that 甄嬛 didn’t accept the marriage proposal. Ladies’ on 甄嬛’s side even say that is 甄嬛 really did want to accept the marriage proposal, she wouldn’t be in the palace today.


Next up, 祺贵人 brings up 斐雯。 Remember her? She’s the maid that was punished to be slapped in the face after opening windows right after 甄嬛 gave birth and causing her to cough. She was punished by the emperor and was not happy about that. It looks like she was turned by the Empress and is now here to provide evidence against her old master. 甄嬛is livid to see 斐雯 who claims that she saw the doctor and 甄嬛 have a very private conversation where his hands were on hers and his sleeve exposed bamboo leaf embroidery. 


This…didn’t really happen. Earlier in episode 62, the doctor came to check on 甄嬛”s health condition so of course, his hand rested on her hand to check her pulse. There was still the sleeve separating the two of them so there was no point did the doctor touch 甄嬛’s skin. His sleeve did expose the willow embroidery which may have been a little “private” but that is not a problem. 斐雯 only ran into this scene when she accompanied 甄嬛’s younger sister into see 甄嬛, not this embellished version.


[Karen]

As all of this drama is happening, we have to remember the very pregnant 沈眉庄。 She wasn’t invited to this accusation trial but she’s worried about 甄嬛。Luckily, her maid is able to persuade her to stay away from the drama and remain inside.


The Empress’s head eunuch requests the presence of 温实初 to this trial. But as they pass by 沈眉庄’s residence, he requests to step inside to check on her health. Once inside, he warns her to not go outside for any reason. The excuse he uses is very innocuous. It’s windy outside. She is near her delivery date and it’s not good for her to be out. 温实初 prevents her from suspecting anything wrong is happening which showcases his care and love for her. He doesn’t want anything to happen to her especially at this crucial juncture of her pregnancy. He has a feeling that whatever is about to happen next is not going to be good, especially because he is going to see the Empress.


The doctor arrives at the Empress’s palace and sees almost the entire imperial harem there. Immediately, the Empress’s head eunuch flips open the Doctor’s sleeve and reveals the embroidery there. 


[Cathy]

Everyone sees the embroidery and at first it doesn’t look good for 甄嬛. But, the doctor explains that the embroidery is of green bamboo leaves that his mother loves. His mother personally embroidered these leaves for him as a way to remember her. This most certainly clears some of the air because it’s from his mother, not from any type of lover. The Empress doesn’t say much but 敬妃 chimes in that the embroidery looks dated as well, not something that is recent. Therefore, anyone who is paying attention would probably have been able to see it. This cannot mean anything significant between the doctor and 甄嬛.


Poor doctor. He didn’t do anything and just walked into a massive trap that could potentially cost him his life. Thank god he and 甄嬛 didn’t actually cheat with each other. They are both uh adulterers, but just with different people. Isn’t that hilarious? 


That’s the end of episode 62 – let’s dive right into episode 63.


[Karen]


甄嬛 has been silent the entire time. She has heard the accusations from 玢儿 and 斐雯. Her mind must be racing but at least, she is innocent in this accusation. No one suspects a thing of her true uh… crime.  Her faction, specifically 敬妃 has countered most of the attacks on her behalf. Now it’s time for 甄嬛 to show what she’s all about. Her tone is so much deeper than the beginning of the drama and her glare emanates power. 甄嬛 coldly asks 斐雯 whether she’s’ done her chores, did she varnish the Lapis lazuli vase? That’s odd, why ask this question?  斐雯 in her haste immediately says yes. 槿汐 then coldly responds, that’s rubbish, the one on the counter is made of Jade. 斐雯 quickly agrees and says yes, I forgot, it’s made of jade.  With just one question, 甄嬛 undermines 斐雯”s credibility and memory. If she can’t remember something like what she cleaned, how can she be trusted for remembering what she saw between 甄嬛 and the doctor?


Here, 敬妃 chuckles and says – wow, with such a memory, I’m surprised you can remember the willow on a sleeve. 甄嬛 does a fabulous eye roll and responds – there has never been a vase on the counter. You claim that you serve me, but you don’t know your usual chores and spend all of your time scrutinizing what’s on a doctor’s sleeve. What’s your motive?


[Cathy]

I love the shot of 叶澜依 trying to stifle a laugh. 甄嬛 turns towards the Empress – this is very suspicious. Why would a lowly maid pay attention to this? 甄嬛’s squad continue to chip away at 斐雯’s credibility. If we judge this right now as a game of tug of war, I think 甄嬛’s team is winning right now. 


All of a sudden though, 安陵容 brings up 甘露寺, the temple 甄嬛 was exiled to for all those years. She questions how anyone at such a holy temple could conduct such blasphemous acts such as adultery. Uh-oh, where’s the conversation headed?


At this point, the Emperor, 皇上, arrives. 祺贵人 doesn’t hesitate to share her accusations with the Emperor. He actually slaps her for making such an accusation but the Empress helps give some credibility to 祺贵人’s claim by referencing her oath. 


At the same time though, events are happening outside of Empress’s palace. 浣碧 has returned to 甄嬛’s palace and is getting slightly anxious that 甄嬛 hasn’t returned. She’s waiting with 甄嬛’s younger sister in the palace. Suddenly a maid rushes in to inform them to take action. She’s 宁贵人’s maid. The maid quickly tells them that a nun from 甘露寺 has accused 甄嬛 of adultery. It’s best to find someone else from the temple to act as another witness. 浣碧, who fully knows the gravity of this situation immediately thinks of the nun 莫言. She’ll stay in the palace for now but 玉娆, 甄嬛’s younger sister, immediately rushes out to find the nun, with a eunuch in tow. On their way out, they bump into the 19th prince who quickly learns of this story. 


[Karen]

Back at the Empress’s palace, the Emperor, with his suspicious nature, agrees to listen to 祺贵人’s witness. Who is this witness? It is the despicable 静白. This 静白 was the nun that abused 甄嬛 the entire time she was at the temple as a nun. Ugh, this is not good.


祺贵人 commands 静白 to tell her story. My blood just boils here – 静白 begins her soliloquy by painting 甄嬛 as an aloof woman who didn’t mesh with the other nuns. The only two people who visited were an elderly maid and of course this doctor. The elderly maid was of course 芳若, sent by the Empress Dowager. There’s no lie here. Then 静白 makes her accusations – she witnessed 甄嬛 and the doctor in a room together by themselves. She couldn’t go in because 甄嬛’s maids were standing guard outside – but when she questioned 甄嬛, she was rudely dismissed. 甄嬛 then left to 灵云峰 amidst rumors of infidelity and she 静白 did not know what happened after that. 


Silence – this looks pretty damning for 甄嬛. 宁贵人 suddenly stands up and asks to take her leave. This whole situation is giving her a headache. The Emperor consents. She turns away but before she leaves, she asks a few questions to 静白. After hearing the responses, 叶澜依 doesn’t say anything else as walks out. 


[Cathy]

With that interlude over, it’s time for the Empress to strike. She has been silent the entire time. She needs to play her part well as the neutral judge. She can’t say anything too early in this whole scene otherwise it’ll be too obvious what she’s trying to do. She truly is a master manipulator. She “serenely” asks the Emperor if he ordered the doctor to do this.  This puts the Emperor in an awkward spot – did he know of this relationship? If the doctor and 甄嬛 did indeed commit adultery – where does that put him?


The doctor 温实处 immediately denounces these allegations but 祺贵人 immediately shuts him down. Her arguments are quite convincing. They’ve known each other since their youth, 甄嬛’s maids of course won’t admit to anything, there was even a proposal of marriage. 甄嬛 has committed treasonous crimes! At this point, 槿汐 steps in and swears that nothing happened between 甄嬛 and the doctor. Which is all 100% true. 


The Emperor though turns his gaze towards 甄嬛 and pointedly asks – did you do it? 甄嬛 immediately kneels to proclaim her fidelity. He believes her and allows her to sit again. 


The Empress though will not give up this opportunity. She closes in and says – your highness, if you truly want to clear up any doubt on this matter, we should do a thorough investigation. 安陵容 as her usual self also chimes in – we should investigate to clear my sister’s good name. I don’t want her to be the subject of gossip in the palace. 


[Cathy]

The Empress and her posse continue to chip away at the Emperor’s confidence in 甄嬛. It really is a marvel to watch. Why did the cats suddenly attack 甄嬛 in the middle of the evening? Why didn’t she investigate? 祺贵人 now turns her vitriol towards 槿汐 and 浣碧. She claims that the maids are loyal to 甄嬛, we won’t get the truth out of them unless we use torture. 槿汐 steps in to any punishment to prove 甄嬛’s loyalty. Before 甄嬛 can do anything, 安陵容 stops her to say, if they don’t suffer punishment, it would be difficult to prove 甄嬛’s innocence. What a b**** – 甄嬛 turns and stares daggers at her. I mean, I would too. This is great acting here. It’s almost as though 安陵容 can feel the daggers from 甄嬛 because 安陵容 turns her gaze away from 甄嬛 as if she’s cowering under this gaze. You should – wow. 


In this tug of war – it looks like the Empress’s team is now winning. Suddenly though, an unexpected guest appears. It’s the 19th prince – he enters to claim his support for 甄嬛 which is rather surprising because men in general, let alone royal family members don’t usually meddle in affairs of the imperial harem. This angers 祺贵人. I honestly don’t know how this woman is so confident in her stance. Like do your homework, you’ve got the wrong person, haha. 


The Emperor has had enough – just as he’s about to conclude this whole thing, the Empress proposes an idea. Let’s conduct a 滴血认亲 or a blood test. According to this drama, blood between relatives will mix together but will not with non-relations. Not very scientific but let’s go with it. 


[Karen]

This is serious. There’s a few factors. A, you need blood from the Emperor and as the son of heaven, you can’t have the Emperor spilling blood. B, even if the 6th prince is the Emperor’s son, if the stories of these events spread throughout the Imperial palace, this would be a serious stain to the Emperor’s reputation. For, 甄嬛, she is worried that if they do a test, they’ll find out that the 6th prince is not the Emperor’s son. Again, not sure how accurate that would be but…in this drama let’s just go with it. 


甄嬛 quickly plays the role as the tearful concubine. She tries to appeal to the Emperor by recounting their reunion. This could be her last hope.


Unfortunately, the Emperor thinks it’s a good idea to do this test. Why though? Because 祺贵人 says something actually quite astute. If the 6th Prince isn’t the Emperor’s son, are we going to just let the throne fall into the hands of outsiders? The Emperor, no matter how much he says that he believes 甄嬛, will once again always put the Empire and the throne first. He doesn’t have many sons and at this point views the 6th prince as a potential heir. If the 6th prince isn’t of his blood, this isn’t just a personal matter but a matter of state. He of course now has to get to the bottom of this.


甄嬛 is devastated to hear this but she comes up with a lightning fast plan. She says that if the emperor suspects her and the doctor, they only need to test the blood between the doctor and the 6th prince. That way, no harm comes to the Emperor. 


[Cathy]

Throughout this episode, the Emperor will oscillate between calling 甄嬛, 嬛嬛, his nickname for her, or other names such as 熹贵妃, her official title and simply “你” or You. His level of trust in her at any point in time is reflected in the name he uses for her. 嬛嬛 shows the highest level of trust.  At this point, he still believes her, or at least is trying to manipulate her into thinking he believes her by calling her 嬛嬛。 Throughout this whole episode, we also get many close up shots of the Emperor’s hands and how he fondles with his beads. This action also gives us the audience a hint as to where the Emperor is leaning towards at any moment. He won’t display much in terms of facial expression but his reactions are all there. Once again though, we see the Emperor’s suspicious nature. Even though he says he believes 甄嬛, he will still agree with this test. 


We also have to marvel at 甄嬛’s quick thinking. This is a fail safe way to trick the emperor because the doctor is most certainly NOT the father of her child.


By now, it’s dark outside which shows how long the day has gone.  The head eunuch, 苏培盛 brings over a bowl of water and pricks the 6th prince and the doctor for a drop of blood. 甄嬛 is sitting there, playing the part of a betrayed woman who is not being trusted by the emperor because she knows the truth.


But what do we see? The blood of the two actually mix! 


[Karen]

Everyone is shocked. The Emperor is livid and the Empress immediately wants to kill the doctor. 甄嬛 is at a loss. This looks really, really bad for her. Everyone is able to see that the blood of these two mixed! There is clear evidence of her adultery! 祺贵人 smirks her success while 甄嬛’s faction tries to think of what else they can do to protect her.


The Emperor is emmenating anger. He is positively scary at this point. It looks like there is nothing but punishment for 甄嬛 in store. He is so angry at her. But before he can do anything more, 甄嬛, who is confused as to what happened, exclaims that there must be something wrong with the water! There are 3 components in this experiment – her son, the doctor, and the water. She knows with 100% fact that her son and the doctor aren’t the issue. Then it must be the water. 


Thanks to her quick thinking, she immediately grabs the hand of 苏培盛 and pricks his hand for a drop of blood. She drops the blood into the bowl and what happens? The blood mixes together! How could that be?


甄嬛 exclaims again that there is something wrong with the water! The ever faithful 槿汐 also comes up and pricks her hand. Her blood also mixes with the blood of the 6th prince, the doctor and 苏培盛. How is that possible?


[Cathy]

The emperor is a little confused but comes to see the results. 苏培盛 even says this is absolutely not possible. I mean, he is a eunuch which means he has no ability to give birth. How can the doctor and 槿汐 be his children?


At this point, the emperor actually lets out a laugh and says, he knows. 


The doctor immediately comes up and investigates the water. He smells it and says, “the water has a sour taste. It’s because there’s 白矾 added to this water.” What’s 白矾? It’s a type of mineral, or more specifically potassium alum. The doctor explains that historical medical records have stated that if this potassium alum or 白矾 is added to water, the blood of non-kin will be able to mix. If you add oil to water, the blood of kin will not mix.


Well there you have it. The water has been contaminated with the likes of 白矾 in order to make the appearance that 甄嬛 cheated.


[Karen]

The emperor sits back down on his chair and turns to the Empress. He says that in an effort to be fair, it was the Empress who prepared the water. The Empress hurriedly denies doing anything to the water stating that this would have been a very risky move, she’s not that stupid. 


But, 敬妃 chimes in to say that yes, this move could have been risky, but the reward is very great. Once it appears that the 6th prince isn’t the Emperor’s, who else will investigate the truth? The Empress is now in a precarious position because it looks like she tried to frame 甄嬛。 甄嬛 even comes up to say that she’s always been respectful of the Empress, why would the Empress want to frame her in such a way that could kill her?


Before anything else can happen, 苏培盛 arrives with another bowl of water and says this bowl of water is clean. The emperor demands another test. The 6th prince and the doctor provide another drop of blood to the bowl. 苏培盛 presents this bowl to the Emperor who sees that…the 2 drops of blood do not mix. 


The Empress slumps at this sight.


[Cathy]

Now, the tides have turned. The truth that the 6th prince and the doctor 温实初 have no relation has been confirmed in front of everyone. There is no denying this fact now. The emperor even turns to give the Empress a glare after seeing the results.


But 祺贵人 isn’t satisfied. She cries that even if the 6th prince isn’t the doctor’s, you have 3 witnesses that say that the 2 have a relationship. You cannot deny this fact. Just as the maid 斐雯 and the nun 静白 step up to proclaim their truths, 宁贵人 barges in. 


She swiftly walks straight up to the head of the room. I find this scene hilarious. She walks up, stares straight at 苏培盛 and he gets the hint to move aside. That confidence and aura. Girl, can you share some with the rest of us?


Anyways, she’s back. And another person arrives as well. It’s 玉娆,甄嬛“s youngest sister. Both she and 宁贵人 went to look for witnesses to help 甄嬛”s case. 玉娆 even talks directly to the emperor saying that there is more than one nun at the nunnery where 甄嬛 stayed. He should listen to other people as well.


[Karen]

At this point, who arrives to provide her witness account? It’s the stern but kind 莫言, the nun who helped 甄嬛 many times while at the nunnery.  莫言 immediately shares that 甄嬛 had to do many laborious tasks while at the nunnery such as chopping firewood and washing clothes. The implication here is that she was doing things much below her station as a concubine. 莫言 also shares that if 甄嬛 didn’t do things satisfactorily, she’d be beaten by 静白。 She shared this and a few other stories depicting 甄嬛’s precarious and destitute living conditions, and the fact that if it wasn’t for the doctor who came to visit occasionally, 甄嬛 would have already died. The main key piece of information 莫言 shares is that if 甄嬛 and the doctor truly did have an intimate relationship, she could have just left. Why stay and endure such harsh conditions? With this account, 静白’s testimony is ineffective. 


Many of the 甄嬛“s team share their disgust at 静白 and their support of 甄嬛 again. The emperor at this point, is leaning towards believing 甄嬛’s innocence and agrees to cut off 静白’s tongue as a punishment. 


[Cathy]

To help confirm that this nun is malicious, 宁贵人 nonchalantly adds that 静白 said she hasn’t stepped into the palace for 2 years, but earlier when 宁贵人 spoke to her, 静白 knew immediately who she was and her title. This means that someone coached her and shared intimate details of the palace with her. This is now looking bad for 祺贵人 and the Empress. Most people, the Emperor included, should be able to see that this seems to be a set up by 祺贵人 at the very least.


Sure enough, 玢儿 now crawls up to 甄嬛 and explains that she didn’t have any choice but to come to the palace to give her witness account. If she didn’t come, she’d be beaten to death and shares the numerous injuries she’s suffered while working at 祺贵人’s family home. 玢儿 tearfully explains to the emperor that 甄嬛 and the doctor do not have any inappropriate relationship even though they met in childhood.


By now, all doubts have been cleared up. Zhen Huan’s innocence has been confirmed with all of these truths coming out. But 甄嬛 knows that she must counterattack. It’s not simply 祺贵人 who has the power, intelligence and ability to gather all of these people together. Someone must have ordered her to do it. She shares this with the Emperor and is supported by 宁贵人 who says that if this mastermind isn’t exposed, then the Imperial Harem will never be peaceful. 


[Karen]

甄嬛 turns to 祺贵人 and says she’ll be lenient if 祺贵人 shares who directed her to do this. Literally everyone in attendance knows that it is the Empress that is behind all of this. Who doesn’t know that 祺贵人 allied herself with the Empress? And especially given the mistake of accidentally adding the potassium alum into the water, the first thought to the main culprit turns towards the Empress.


But, 祺贵人 does some quick thinking and decides to take sole ownership of framing 甄嬛。She yells that no one directed her, it was all her own thinking. She hates 甄嬛 because her family background, beauty and position are equal to or above that of 甄嬛’s, why does 甄嬛 receive all the favor?  祺贵人 even looks at the Empress before continuing to take more ownership of this act.


And before anyone else can say anything, the Empress steps in to say how lovely it is to have your own sister in the palace. When I see 甄嬛 and her sister, I’m reminded of my own sister. IF she were still alive, she’d believe I’m innocent. 


OK. Let’s pause here to explain what just happened. Again, we all know that the Empress is in on it. Why does 祺贵人 not expose the Empress in return for clemency? It’s because 祺贵人 knows that if she gives herself up, at least the Empress will still be in power to enact revenge on her behalf. She is willing to sacrifice herself in order to ensure that the main goal of defeating 甄嬛 still happens. Additionally, she wants to protect her family from being blamed in this scandal.


The empress brings up her sister in order to use her sister as a shield. Every time her sister is brought up, the Emperor will hesitate before enacting any type of harsh punishment.


Indeed, as the Emperor asks about the potassium alum, one of the Empress’s maids claims that she helped hold the bowl of water earlier but forgot that she had handled the potassium alum, thereby contaminating the water. What a faithful maid. Taking the fall for her master. We have no idea if this is true or not, most likely not true, but this gives plausible deniability to the Empress.


The Emperor punishes this maid by sending her to do hard labor but then actually tells the Empress, who had been kneeling this entire time, to sit up. This shows that he is willing to trust her at this point.


The episode ends with the Emperor giving out his decision on this accusation – 祺贵人, banished to the Cold Palace. 康常在, 贞嫔, no allowance for 6 months for spreading rumors. The rest, 甄嬛 decides. And she does. 甄嬛 asks that 槿汐 return the nun 莫言 and her old maid 玢儿 back to their homes. As for her traitor maid 斐雯 and the nun 静白, they are to be beaten to death.


There’s a bit left to episode 63 but we will start that with the next episode. It’s once again, a doozy. 


—–

[Cathy] 

There’s a lot of plot here but some snippets to analyze. Let’s start with our analysis!


Nails


In the beginning of our episode, we see 甄嬛 getting her nails done. Her fingers are wrapped in a leaf. This was the first time that I saw the process of getting nails painted or coated in a Chinese drama. I believe the process is quite accurate and our grandparent’s generation still got their nails done this way. 


The flower that is used here is called 凤仙花 or balsam. There are medicinal properties to this flower, including treating snakebites, warts etc. There are several different colors. To dye the nails, you would simply take the flower petals and mash them to a fine mush. Add some potassium alum or 白矾 or salt when muddling. Then leave it out until the mush dries. Spread the residual onto your nails and wrap them in a leaf, as shown in the drama. One would typically use 苘麻 or velvetleaf but you just want to use something sturdy. It takes several hours for the color to seep into the nails but it’s the organic way to paint your nails! As a note, people get some bad reactions to potassium alum so be wary of that. Where have we heard of this 白矾? That’s right! In the water for the blood test! Funny right?


滴血认亲


Next, let’s actually talk about 滴血认亲. As we stated earlier, in theory, this could work but in reality this doesn’t. The earliest records of some type of blood test goes all the way back to the Three Kingdoms era, in so 300AD. What happened then was to drop some blood on bones and see if the blood will sink into the bone. The theory was that if you are blood related, then yes the blood will be absorbed by the bone. This was actually taken as the standard for a while.


There’s one story from the History of the Southern Dynasties about this. The story goes like this, 萧综 was the son of the King of Liang. However, his mother was concubine to the King of Northern Qi. The King of Liang killed the King of Northern Qi and took the concubine as his own. 萧综 was born 7 months later.  萧综 always suspected his parentage and after reaching adulthood exhumed the King of Northern Qi’s body. He conducted this experiment, dropping some blood to the bones to see if the bones would absorb the blood and it did. To further test his hypothesis, he killed his own son and did the same test. Ok, WHAT? The blood again absorbed into the bone of his son. 萧综 now fully believed that he was the son of the King of Northern Qi. 


Well, none of this is scientifically accurate. We’d just do a DNA test now but of course – that wasn’t an option. So for this show, this is the best that they’ve got. Most of the time the blood would probably have mixed but for plot purposes, they didn’t.


[Karen]

Finally, let’s talk about the teams! I feel like the best way for myself to understand what happened in the episode is to compare the players to chess pieces, at least for 甄嬛’s team. I’m not a chess master so some of my comparisons might be off but bear with me.


槿汐 – pawn. She is the ever loyal servant who will sacrifice anything for her master. 


苏培盛 – pawn. I think he’s a pawn that turns into an all mighty queen. I mean his blood really is what does it for the Emperor. I mean how can a eunuch have kids? 


欣嫔 – pawn. She doesn’t say much but when she does, leans in favor of 甄嬛.


敬妃

-I feel like she’s a knight. She’s out there protecting 甄嬛 but she’s constantly the 1st one to defend 甄嬛. Due to her close connection with 甄嬛, her words might not hold as much sway. She’s somewhat limited in the moves she can make.


Ok for me 端妃 – is either a bishop or a rook. She doesn’t say much but when she does, it’s important. It’s to either point 甄嬛 in one direction or to alleviate 甄嬛’s situation. Let’s look at the examples, when 玢儿 confirms the fact that 温实处 proposed marriage, it was 端妃 who calmly asks was the marriage agreed to? 玢儿 could only say no and that kind of made this whole thing a moot point. Another example, when the Empress first proposed the blood test, it was 端妃 who pointed out the importance of not spilling the Emperor’s blood. I think this is what gave 甄嬛 the idea to test 温实处’s blood instead. I doubt, in that moment, that 甄嬛 would have thought of this so quickly.  Again though, as powerful as her words are, she has to use them sparingly or else they will lose power. 


宁贵人 叶澜依 – I’ll say is the Queen of this team. She’s the MVP. Right off the bat, she knew something was fishy with the nun and ordered her maid to tip 浣碧 off to find reinforcements. She left the battle midway but came back with a vengeance, bringing the nun 莫言 in tow and belittling the nun 静白 with her apparent knowledge of the imperial harem. No one suspected her position in 甄嬛’s team. I don’t think 甄嬛 knew of this too but without her, 甄嬛 would have had a much more difficult time to figure her way out of this situation, if not completely destroyed.


Finally – 甄嬛 is the king of this team. She can move to any space but she’s limited by what she can do. However, it’s her quick thinking with the water that saves the day.


Look how far she’s come! From nothing in the very beginning of the drama, to a whole team, this is what it takes to narrowly beat the Empress.


[Cathy]

The Empress’s team by comparison is much weaker. She just has 祺贵人 and 安陵容 but I think her role as Empress accounts for a significant amount. She had 3 witnesses, 2 that were somewhat weak but the nun was a heavy hitter. For the Empress, everything led up to the blood test. Quite possibly, she didn’t even need the 3 witnesses as long as the Emperor agreed to the test.


She most certainly must have been the one to put the 白矾 or potassium alum into the water. She wasn’t 100% sure if 温实处 was the father of 甄嬛’s children but she sure wasn’t going to give up the chance to frame her. Adding 白矾 was just insurance. However, I personally will doubt the Empress’s intellect here. Did she really think no one was going to question the water? Or was it just such a slim chance that she decided to risk it? With the blood mixed together, who cares what 甄嬛 says, she is a confirmed adulterer. 甄嬛 would be killed, her son probably also killed and that’s that for this particular nuisance. The 6th prince will no longer endanger the 3rd prince’s, who is now under her guardianship, claim to the throne .  For the Empress, the rewards greatly outweighed the risks. 


Let’s look at the results – 祺贵人 is banished to the cold palace but what happened to the Empress? Basically nothing, she’s still the Empress. It took literally everything for 甄嬛’s team to retaliate and win this round. The price for this victory however will be very heavy. We’ll find out what happens in the next episode.