Sunday, April 20, 2014

In Love With Power/Beauties Without Tears

After watching a couple of dramas with really disappointing endings *ahem...Qing Shi Huang Fei....Deja Vu.* I literally began watching this thinking: This better be good. And it did not disappoint me. I actually liked this drama. Even though I felt that our second lead was kind of pitiful throughout the entire drama (since he was supposed to be the male lead if our female lead did not mess up). This was a pretty interesting drama with rivalry, competition, love, power, and revenge all mixed together. All these components make sense when we're dealing with an imperial family and living behind palace walls and being a part of the emperor's harem. None of the characters were truly evil. They all started off as very kind and naive women who hardened to a point where they became the way they did. I liked how even though the women were all getting stronger with their power and sense of competition/rivalry, you could still see their original personalities within their actions.

         Yu er is a Khorchin Mongolian princess during the reign of Huang Taiji. She has a half-sister named Hai Lan Zhu who is considered a lowly servant because her mother was one. Regardless of their obvious status difference, the sisters loved and cared for one another. Yu er was considered the lucky star because the snow that fell when she was born saved her people while Hai Lan Zhu was considered the unlucky star because the snow that fell when she was born caused famine. It was decided upon since their births and the events that followed that Yu er would be loved while Hai Lan Zhu was destined to be lower than Yu er. In the event of a small accident, Yu er was saved by a masked man wearing a pendant of a flying eagle. This was the start of her first love. 
          Huang Taiji had come to form military alliances by marrying the daughters of Mongol and Manchu clans. He married Yu er's aunt and made her his primary wife. At the wedding, she encountered both Huang Taiji and the brother of Huang Taiji, Duoergun. Both of them had the same pendants. She immediately decided it was not Duoergun because he teased her a lot. She assumed it was Huang Taiji (when in fact, it turned out it was Duoergun who saved her).
        Hai Lan Zhu also had a lover named Zhuo Lin. She was getting married to him and all was well. However, he was sent to battle and it was reported that he was most likely eaten by wild beasts after falling off a cliff. Devastated, she attempts suicide and was almost burned to death by Yu er's mother who simply wanted Hai Lan Zhu gone with the excuse of her accompanying her dead husband. To help get her mind off things, Yu er and Hai Lan Zhu head to the palace to accompany their aunt who had married the emperor (Huang Taiji.) Huang Taiji had no interest in Yu er; but when he heard that she was the lucky star and that a fortune teller said that one day she'll rule as queen, he married her and renewed the alliance with the Khorchin Mongols. 
       Meanwhile, things were not going smoothly for Hai Lan Zhu. Her mother had been killed by Yu er's mother. Her husband was still not found despite her belief that he's still alive. Her brother seeks revenge in trying to kill Yu er. She also had to contemplate if she is to marry Huang Taiji for her own safety and her brother's. Huang Taiji was developing strong feelings toward Hai Lan Zhu and favored her greatly. However, Zhuo Lin's appearance as a crazed man who suffered severe amnesia led Hai Lan Zhu to the decision to leave the palace to be by his side. Unwilling to let her go, Huang Taiji ordered to have Zhuo Lin killed. Her brother and Hai Lan Zhu immediately assumed that Yu er's mother (the Queen) had followed them and murdered Zhuo Lin. She begins to seduce Huang Taiji, taking advantage of his favoritism towards her, and ends up marrying him to begin her revenge and also to protect her brother. 
           Hai Lan Zhu was no longer the kind sister that Yu er once loved. There was a sense of coldness and rivalry between them. Hai Lan Zhu couldn't help but think that Yu er was the daughter of the woman who ruined her happiness. The favoritism and love Hai Lan Zhu got instigated jealousy among the women in the harem. The drama continues when Hai Lan Zhu discovers that the man she was married was the one that killed her one and only love. Yu Er, devastated of never being loved by a man she adored, decides to embark on a quest to place her son on the throne since she would not get Huang Taiji's affection. The entire time, Duoergun never stopped loving Yu er. He helped her constantly and pitied her for the life she had to deal with. Toward the very end, he still loved her even though they all had married and had children with other people. She admits her mistake when she chose between the two brothers in search of her hero. They had grown old and they had to deal with so much. Drama and deaths occurred in the palace, all for different reasons. The naive and sweet Yu er now knows the schemes of the palace as she watches her son's life as emperor be filled with drama. When her son decides to run away and be a monk, she takes her grandson's hand and seats him on the throne, while she sat behind the throne making all the political decisions. Yu er indeed became the queen she was predicted to be...but at such costs and plenty of drama.


  1. Interesting drama all around but largely inconsistent and sloppy at many parts. Found myself skipping through because of reasons stated. However what I liked about the drama..I really liked and this refers to Zhang Meng as Hai Lan Zhu and Han Dong as Dorgon. To me the drama died along with Hai Lan my opinion her character and story being the element, and arguably the heart of this show. Overall this series failed to capture much and is very apparent especially with the whole younger generation thing to do with Shunzhi ...not sure if cause of young actors and actresses but also way they're written. Anyway I must have missed this part but did Yu Er ever find out Dorgon being her true savior ? One thing the drama never quite addressed even ambiguously is if Yu Er ever ended up loving or feeling some sort of feeling for Dorgon in the end .

    1. Thank you for commenting! I agree that the drama died with the death of Hai Lan Zhu. It seems like our supposed main lead was just a neutral standpoint to show the life in the palace can cause rivalry and shifts in power.