I wish this were a recap but 51 episodes is too huge a commitment so I'm settling for episode highlights instead.
Emperor Zhu Qi Zhen (Wallace Huo) and his stepmother, the Empress Dowager, are at it again, throwing jabs at each other every chance they get. We're made to believe that the source of their antagonism is fabricated by third parties, so it's hard to rally behind either of them since their feud seems rather pointless.
Nevertheless, Qi Zhen achieves a small victory for the way he resolves the pandemic, revealing his identity at the opportune moment in order to save the day. He is outright full of himself, but intriguingly so and his grand entrance earns generous praise from the citizens.
Yun Xian (Liu Shi Shi) on the other hand is constantly healing the sick and there are so many from hundreds of displaced villagers to Zhu Qi Yu's ungrateful mother. By the nth patient, I was just itching for the drama to get on with the show because it is getting old.
Yun Xian's dad is still annoying as ever, worse than the villains. He is a perpetual downer, blaming Yun Xian for every little thing even his very own promotion. Dad's brilliant solution is to attempt to marry her off again because that went well the first time.
In hindsight, dad's decision moved the plot forward giving Yun Xian a much-needed push to seriously ponder her love life. I'm glad that things are heating up but I am not happy about where it's heading. Yun Xian receives two satchels and is showered by more gifts from both suitors. I'd be griping except she really is a pretty awesome lady to deserve all that attention.
Unfortunately, the men come with baggage. Qi Zhen already has an empress aka wife, no doubt multiple concubines and probably kids too. His brother Qi Yu (Huang Xuan) is backed by Empress Dowager and Duke Wang and they expect him to marry Wang Mei Lin (Gina Jin). Yun Xian finds herself in a dangerous situation indeed and it ultimately leads to her 'death' by assassins.
Between the two contenders, Qi Zhen win hands down because it's Wallace Huo (kidding.. wasn't evan a fan of Journey of Flower but if I wasn't a convert then, I am now). Objectively speaking, the drama does appear to go out of its way to develop the relationship between Qi Zhen and Yun Xian. I like that despite Qi Zhen hiding his identity as the emperor, Yun Xian is perceptive enough to understand his backstory and to know him as a person. They're like old friends, similar in ideals, constantly bickering but comfortably familiar such that Yun Xian even teases Qi Zhen by calling him Yuan Bao (his pet name).
There's a significant amount of fan service and I say keep them coming. My favorite part is when Qi Zhen guesses every riddle with surprising ease and he calls her stupid for not keeping up, which of course demands a comeback along the lines of no, you're the one who's stupid.
I swear my writing doesn't do the scene justice and it's much cuter on TV. Moving on, the non-couple also frolic in the snow on a lonely New Year's eve and Yun Xian promises to keep him company on the same day of every year. Why she said that when she supposedly loves someone else? I don't know.
And why the drama does that if it's going to veer left anyway? I actually don't mind Qi Yu who has been nothing but sweet. It's a fairy tale of she saves him, he saves her and fate brings them together again, yet it feels superficial at best since the couple don't get much screen time together. Nonetheless, I can see why her heart flutters at the sight of him but I just can't ship them.
Imperial Doctress First Look