The attack on her family shakes Yun Xian to the core and she decides to remain 'dead', resulting in some few episodes that I conveniently fast forwarded. She finds solace with a traveling circus and meets a teacher adept at medicinal food (Jewel in the Palace?!?!) and Zhu You 祝由 (a peculiar form of healing).
Her time away has made her stronger and better, so she leaves for the palace with renewed confidence to return to Qi Yu (Huang Xuan) and to become the first female doctor of her generation.
Prejudice rears its ugly head as Yun Xian is ostracized and her skills discounted based on gender alone. But of course, Yun Xian turns out to be the only doctor to cure the ailing Empress Dowager, easily proving that women are just as capable as men.
With success comes jealousy such that Yun Xian is framed for an offense that she did not commit. Not to worry because Emperor Qi Zhen (Wallace Huo) happens to be strolling around the area to save the damsel in distress.
In a scene oddly reminiscent of another palace drama called Chronicle of Life, the emperor takes the unconscious heroine away who wakes to find the man before her belatedly admitting, "I am the emperor." Eeeepppp, ahhhhh, yesssss! It's so cliche but I have been counting down to this very moment.
Unfortunately, Empress Qian (Li Cheng Yuan) is quick to bring along Qi Yu so that the rightful couple can reunite and I cry at the sight of a complicated love square.
The first course of business is Qi Yu and Yun Xian's wedding and a major hurdle to their relationship comes in the face of Consort Dowager Wu, Qi Yu's power-hungry mother.
It soon becomes apparent that Yun Xian chose the wrong man because Qi Yu is an all out mama's boy. From asking Yun Xian to change her name to pressuring her to give up her patients, Qi Yu's unreasonable demands pile up and his casual remarks unintentionally hurtful. Sure, Qi Yu's motivations are misguided by a mother that is pretending to be gravely ill, but to refuse to believe Yun Xian even after she blatantly tells him the truth is beyond me.
Thank goodness for Yun Xian's unwavering resolve. She promptly defends her craft, going as far as to point out that Consort Dowager Wu wouldn't even be alive if not for her.
Even Yun Xian's handmaiden's words ring true, questioning why Yun Xian is forcing a marriage with Qi Yu when the Emperor is so much better anyway. I agree 100% that she should back out while she still can but Yun Xian then makes a ridiculous vow that she will die a terrible death should she ever develop inappropriate feelings for Emperor Qi Zhen.
Last but not the last is one of my favorite arcs that features the Imperial Doctor Exam. Yun Xian crams many long nights to fulfill her dream of becoming a full-fledged doctor only to realize that the exam has been rigged to fail.
Nevertheless, Yun Xian manages to pass with flying colors stumping Cheng Shi San and his nephew Cheng Cun Xia and impressing everyone else. Yet, the extent of the evil duo's wtfery really can't be underestimated as the final task proves to be much too humiliating that Head Doctor Liu Ping An intervened.
Did I say how much I like Head Doctor Liu? He tells Yun Xian to stop because even if she gets in, she will just be mistreated by the very same people that do not want her there. It doesn't matter that people look down on her because he doesn't. Head Doctor Liu promised to accept only the best doctors and he offers to bring her under his tutelage because she is undoubtedly brilliant in her own right.
I love that Doctor Liu goes on to tell Cheng Cun XIa to shut up as he was objecting and for Cheng Shi San to stay out of his business.
Imperial Doctress First Look