Yun Xian achieves her first victory as an imperial doctress, defeating fellow doctor Cheng Cun Xia despite being the underdog. I honestly thought that there was hope for Cun Xia who seemed straight as an arrow, ambitious but determined to do right by his craft.
Yet his character is on a downwards spiral, thanks to his evil uncle Cheng Shi San. In hindsight, Cheng Cun Xia chose the wrong path from the very beginning so it's no surprise that he is progressively worse.
The contrast is evident with Qi Zhen ready to go against an entire court on Yun Xian's behalf while Qi Yu is first to point a finger at Yun Xian the minute things go astray. Even though Qi Yu and Yun Xian's misunderstandings are largely caused by the baddies, the means certainly do not justify the end.
When Qi Zhen's pregnant wife objects to killing Duke Wang, Qi Zhen's hot-headedness gets in the way and he ends up pushing her accidentally. The thing is, it is already the second time Qi Zhen hurt someone, the first being Empress Dowager who fell into a short-lived coma after the incident.
Fortunately, Yun Xian knocks some sense into the guilt-ridden Qi Zhen and their heartfelt conversation brings about a straight up confession. Qi Zhen declares his feelings for Yun Xian, admittedly saying that he secretly rejoiced over Qi Yu and Yun Xian's relationship problems. He chides himself for it but he wants to know whether Yun Xian ever felt the same way.
I don't believe for a second that Yun Xian doesn't have feelings for him but alas, she claims she doesn't. It was an emotionally charged scene and my goodness, why can't these two just get together.
Furious over the betrayal, Empress Dowager demands Cheng Shi San's execution and he is subsequently stabbed in a seemingly sudden end to a long-running case.
His takedown was akin to a series of mindless coincidences that started because of plagiarism of all things. Yes, he plagiarized Yun Xian's book, got caught, accused her of murdering another concubine's royal baby, busted, only to out himself in the end as the man who tricked Yun Xian as a child to pouring poison into the then Empress' medicine. The resolution felt hurried that it was anything but eventful and it was never really made clear what his motivations were. Nonetheless, I guess a win is a win.