Gong Episode 1 Recap
So, despite it’s title similarities to Korean drama Goong (which is based on a manwha of the same name), that is all this mainland drama has in common with that one. Well, I guess having a modern girl time travel back into the days of the Qing dynasty might be somewhat similar to imagining a Korea that still had a monarchy in the modern day – but that’s a bit of a stretch.
So yes, we have a girl from today who is obsessed with Chinese history, in particularly the history of Emperor Yong Zheng. Lou Qing Chuan (Yang Mi) lives alone with her mother who runs an antique shop. She is about to get engaged to a nice man who is willing to help her mother take care of the shop, however, Qing Chuan does not seem happy about her impending engagement at all. On the day of the announcement, she runs after a picture of a young woman that blew off the wall of her family’s shop and enters a forest where she is transported back in time to the Qing Dynasty (the 47th year of Emperor Kang Xi’s reign) where she gets involved in palace politics and is caught between two princes: one, the fourth prince who is destined to become the future emperor, and the other the eighth prince who is destined for nothing.
Romanized title: Gōng
English title: Palace / Jade Palace Lockheart
Broadcast station: HBS Hunan TV
Broadcast dates: 31 January – 18 February 2011
Cast: Yang Mi, Feng Shao Feng, Mickey He, Tong Li Ya, Keng Tong, Sonija Kwok, Liu Xue Hua, Maggie Siu, Zong Feng Yan, Ma Wen Long, Lie Bing, Tian Zhen Wei, Mao Zi Jun
Synopsis: Qing Chuan is a modern girl obsessed with the past…in particularly the cold fourth prince Yenzhi who would later become emperor. On the day she is to be engaged, Qing Chuan finds a hole and goes back in time to her favorite period in history. She comes face-to-face with the prince she admired and his brothers. What fate awaits her? Will she find love or death? Will she be able to return home?
The series opens with the emperor arriving and a young woman coming after him with a sword. He asks the girl, Shia Niang if she really intends to kill him, and she says that she must. He then asks about their promises and the two begin fighting (typical dramatic wire fighting which I am not a fan of as it looks to fake). The emperor succeeds in disarming the girl and tells her that she can live if she supports him, but must die if she stands in the way – even if she is the woman he loves. Someone shouts no and we see that this is not the past, but rather a film set.
Our protagonist Qing Chuan comes and begins scolding the actor playing Yong Zhen saying that the emperor is not as cold and vicious as he is being portrayed. The director then yells at them for interrupting the scene. The assistant director comes and tells the tourist group to leave and Qing Chuan says that they cannot portray the emperor like that as it is not historically accurate. The assistant director tells her to become rich and become the boss and then she can complain and demand changes. She is then ushered out with the rest of the group that was touring the palace.
As she was leaving the palace complaining about how no one will watch such a crappy drama, a fog drifts in and someone says “you must go back.” Qing Chuan turns and sees a woman in historical garb and says that the entrance fee was expensive so she can’t go back. Qing Chuan then thinks the woman must be a cast member of the drama and takes out her camera to get a picture. The woman, who still has her back turned to her, says again “You must go back” and then adds in Qing Chuan’s name. This surprises Qing Chuan as she wants to know how the mysterious woman could no her name. She puts the camera away and approaches the woman. As she turns around, Qing Chuan is shocked as the woman has the same face! The woman tells her again to go back and we see the two worlds melding a bit.
Then a book drops on the floor an Qing Chuan wakes up in bed – it was just a dream! She hugs her pillow doll close to her happy that it was still a dream. Then in comes her mother who is upset to see her daughter still lazing in bed on such an important day. She tells Qing Chuan to quickly get ready and Qing Chuan asks if her mother really wants her to get engaged to Fei Fan. Her mother says of course and then quickly turns to look at her daughter and asks Qing Chuan if she plans on backing out of the engagement now. Her mother then reminds Qing Chuan that after Qing Chuan’s father died, Fei Fan was the only one who helped them run the antique shop. For many years others tried to steal him away, but Fei Fan stuck with the shop as he loved Qing Chuan. Qing Chuan says that she knows they are indebted to Fei Fan, but (while reading her history book) shouldn’t a person marry someone you have feelings for? Apparently not. Her mother asks what good are feelings (Oh, I don’t know, they can help a marriage be successful and last). When picking a husband, you need a kind, dependable, smart man. Her mom then urges Qing Chuan to hurry and get up and get dressed. Qing Chuan says she will once she finishes reading her book. Her mother grabs the book and asks how many times she will read it. She then threatens to burn it if Qing Chuan doesn’t get up, thus Qing Chuan reluctantly gets up.
Qing Chuan goes about her routine toilette without any real interest in it at all. She puts on her makeup, her pretty red dress, and does her hair. Her mom is happy at how pretty her daughter looks, but Qing Chuan looks as if she could care less. In fact, she pays more interest to her MP3 player than the time. Her mother quickly grabs her arm and they rush out so as not to be late.
When they arrive at the shop, Fei Fan immediately excuses himself and approaches Qing Chuan and her mother who apologizes for their tardiness. He tells them not to worry as the rest of the guests have not arrived yet (looks to be a grand opening and not an engagement party). Qing Chuan removes her ear pieces and then asks if Fei Fan really wants to marry. He says that he does and she points out that she has a lot of imperfections (no kidding, she kind of really annoyed me when she was in the modern age as she was disrespectful and disinterested in everything around her – maybe she is destined for the past as she is so obsessed with it and that is why she seems to fit better there). Fei Fan says that her imperfections are not a problem because he likes her imperfections and all. Qing Chuan puts her earpiece back in and ignores her mother when she says that she is lucky to have found Fan Fei to marry.
Then Fei Fan’s mother arrives and our disinterested heroine is dragged to meet her future mother-in-law. Qing Chuan makes a cursory greeting and then goes back to paying attention to her MP3 player even when Han Fei’s mother tries to reach out and bond by asking Qing Chuan to show her around. Qing Chuan says that she doesn’t no much about antiques either, but Qing Chuan’s mother insists and walks off with Fei Fan. Making their way around the shop, Fei Fan’s mother immediately begins listing all her faults (they are true, she is rude and disrespectful and her looks are average – she’s pretty, but not a knockout). Under normal circumstances I would find that just plain rude, but in the beginning I really didn’t care for Qing Chuan’s character. Instead of listening to Mrs. Lin’s tirade, Qing Chuan concentrates on the music. When she is scolded for it, she asks if Mrs. Lin wants to listen to the song. Mrs. Ling tells her to forget it and then says that once Qing Chuan marries her son Qing Chuan will have to change. Qing Chuan just continues to listen to her music and poke around the shop instead of paying Mrs. Lin any heed, which makes Mrs. Lin angrier.
Qing Chuan then notices a portrait on the wall and is drawn to it. At this moment Fei Fan begins the the event, which is the grand opening of the shop. Meanwhile, Qing Chuan keeps heading slowly towards the portrait while Fei Fan says there is another important announcement. He grabs Qing Chuan and brings her over and says that they are also announcing their engagement. Qing Chuan pays no attention to this and her mother yanks the earpiece out of her ear. When Fei Fan places the ring on her finger the portrait comes off the wall and is blown away. Qing Chuan immediately chases after it. When Fei Fan and her mother go to follow, the fallen waiters and then a chain curtain prevent them from moving. Qing Chuan runs and runs after the portrait, not heeding where she is or the fact that the sky is darkening and the wind is picking up. Finally the portrait comes to rest against a tree when Qing Chuan picks it up the dark sky emits a golden light and she is sucked into the ground leaving only the portrait behind.
We then cut to the past where a group of brightly dressed maidens dance on a stage. When the dance ends, a woman goes and says that she will announce the winner if no other woman in the audience protests and wishes to try her luck. No one says anything and the winner is announced as Su Yan (Tong Li Ya). While the crowd starts celebrating, down falls Qing Chuan from the sky surprising everyone. Qing Chuan looks around and wonders just where in the world she is. The MC then rushes over to Qing Chuan and says that a maiden has fallen from the heavens and she then asks Qing Chuan what talents she has. Qing Chuan is pulled to her feet and a song comes out from her MP3 player. Everyone apparently thinks she is singing despite the fact her mouth is not moving. Qing Chuan looks around in confusion wondering where she is and why people are dressed like that. There is no film crew – so what is going on? Qing Chuan then thinks that she may just have gong back through time. Thinking she has to go back and take care of her mother, she grabs a curtain and tries to get back up from where she fell. Everyone thinks she is doing a dance and she ends up winning the competition, annoying Su Yan. Qing Chuan then asks the MC just what year it is. The woman says that Qing Chuan is so overwhelmed by winning that she has even forgotten the year. She tells the audience to let Qing Chuan know the year and they all yell out that it is the 47th year of Kang Xi’s reign. Qing Chuan repeats this, dazed and then collapses. Yeah, that is a little overwhelming.
Night falls and we see a lone man fishing. Su Yan comes and he asks if she lost. Yu San asks how he knows and the man replies that if she had won the contest, she wouldn’t have had time to come there to meet him. Yu San says that she almost won but a girl came out of nowhere. The man quickly shuts her up and tells her its not important. It’s his fault for thinking that with all her qualities she would be able to compete with the other girls. Ouch. He tells Yu San to rest early, but she does not leave. He then asks if there is anything else. Yu San approaches him and we learn that he is the 4th prince (referred to as 4th A Ge – truthfully too many freaking titles in this drama to remember them all – at least the princes are easy to remember because it is their birth order followed by A Ge) as she finally addresses him by title (not by name). She then says that if she had won she would have to go to the palace and risk her life – wouldn’t that make him sad? 4th A Ge (whose name is really Yin Zhen) asks Yu San to not asks such questions. He wouldn’t feel bad as he knows that she would have an even better future. Yu San doesn’t want a better future, but Yin Zhen cuts her off before she can say just what she wants. He tells her that just because he didn’t catch a fish that night, he won’t give up as he believes that one day he will be able to catch one (nice metaphor for whatever the two are plotting). Yin Zhen then tells her to do her work properly as the days are still long.
We then cut to a palanquin and inside is Qing Chuan who has been changed into clothes of the era. She wakes up and wonders what is going on. She peeks outside and says she must be dreaming. She pinches herself and keeps pinching her self and then she cries out because it hurts. So she isn’t dreaming after all! The MC pulls back the curtain from outside and asks if anything is wrong. Qing Chuan then asks where they are going, but the woman refuses to tell, just saying that it is a good place and that Qing Chuan will know when she gets there. Poor Qing Chuan fears that she is going to be sent to a brothel and tries to get out of the palanquin at all costs, but the woman outside won’t let her off.
They finally arrive and Qing Chuan is amazed at all of the historical and luxurious items in the room. It is announced that Tai Zi has arrived and the woman grabs Qing Chuan down and tells her to bow and greet the Tai Zi. Qing Chuan asks who and in walks a young man. Qing Chuan, remembering her history, recalls that this must be the second prince Yin Reng who is currently the crown prince (Tai Zi is that official title). She is surprised by how handsome he is as he wasn’t painted in the best light in the history books. The prince asks if she is the winner this time and the MC replies that she is. Although Qing Chuan’s looks might not be much, but she has a beautiful voice. The MC then asks if Yin Reng wants to hear. He sends off the MC and Qing Chuan grabs hold of the MC and asks where she is going. The MC then reveals that the beauty contest’s sole purpose was to find a woman to “take care of” the crown prince. This shocks Qing Chuan who doesn’t want to be there. The MC then leaves and shuts Qing Chuan in with the prince.
Qing Chuan turns to face him and says that the MC got it wrong and that she will be leaving. However, she can’t get the door open and Yin Reng keeps approaching. Qing Chuan protests as Yin Reng touches her and goes to kiss her. He tells her that her fighting only makes him more eager (great – a pervert). Qing Chuan thinking quickly, manages to push him away and tells him to wait. He asks what tricks she is playing and Qing Chuan spits out that she is a “fairy” which he doesn’t believe. Qing Chuan, thinking back on her history, says that she predicts there will be a natural disaster at the Huang River soon so Yin Reng needs to leave and save his people. Yin Reng says that before the people are saved, she needs to think of a way to save herself. He then picks up Qing Chuan and puts her on the bed where she fights tooth and nail to be freed. It is then that a eunuch calls in saying that the emperor wishes to see Yin Reng. Tai Zi is immediately disturbed by this and frightened as to what his father could possibly want. Qing Chuan tries to think back on what was going on in the 47th year of Kang Xi’s rule. Qing Chuan then says that if she can find a way to save him, will he let her go. Yin Reng is reluctant, but he does listen to her.
The emperor throws a scroll down at his son and asks if he has read the reports. Yin Reng replies that he hadn’t had the time and the emperor then asks if his son knew that there was a natural disaster at the Huang River and that many people have died. Yin Reng immediately says that he will investigate right away and Kang Xi scolds his son saying that by the time he is done, then even more people will be dead. Kang Xi then asks what his son as managed to do for the country as he doesn’t read the documents or know anything that is going on. Yin Reng then starts crying and this stops the emperor in his tracks. The emperor asks why his son is crying when he hadn’t even finished the scolding and Yin Reng asks for three days time and after that his father can do whatever. Kang Xi demands to know the reason and Yin Reng brings up that its exactly the 32nd anniversary of his mother’s death. These past few days he has been paying for his mom and there are still three days left to complete the ceremony. Clever trick as the emperor truly loved the late empress. This softens the emperor as it shows his son filial heart. Yin Reng then goes to take his leave, but Kang Xi tells him to wait. Yin Reng turns around and asks what and is relieved when his father only asks him to help him burn three incense for Yin Reng’s mother and to tell her that Kang Xi is well.
Qing Chuan is waiting in the room wondering if her plan worked. She then decides to take advantage of the prince’s absence and leave. She goes to climb out the window only to come face to face with Yin Reng. He asks what she is doing and she says that it was hot and she just needed air. Yin Reng promises to take her for some air in his garden and she says there is no need and climbs back in. When Yin Reng gets inside she asks if her advice worked. Yin Reng says that it did and that her river disaster happened as predicted as well. He then says that Kang Xi wanted to kill him, but since he remembered to cry for his mother – he was spared. Qing Chuan, talking to herself, says that of course she was right as Kang Xi would never have made a “grass bun” like Yin Reng heir if not for love of the empress. Yin Reng did not quite catch this and asks her what she means, but she quickly says it is nothing.
Qing Chuan then asks if he won’t do anything to her now. He says that he will. He sees her as his goddess of mercy and asks to fulfill whatever request she has. Qing Chuan asks to be let go and he says that is no problem, she just has to let him know where to find her again (defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?). Qing Chuan (twiddling her two index fingers which is customary when she is worried and thinking), realizes that she has no place to go. Thus she decides to stay with Yin Reng and utilize his power to help her find the place where she was sucked into the past. She asks for paper and ink and she quickly draws the woods where she fell into the past. Yin Reng quickly agrees to help her and immediately sets off to find the place for her. Along, Qing Chuan wonders when she will be able to go home again.
The fourth prince Ying Zheng meets with the head eunuch of the palace to ask after the emperor’s health. The eunuch replies that it is rare for Yin Zheng to be so caring and replies that the emperor’s health is much better these last few days. Yin Zheng asks if there is any event that has made his father happy. If so, he would like to know so he can do his own filial duty. An Da (title for the head eunuch?) then spots the crown prince and tells Yin Zhen that he heard that the crown prince has been helping the emperor more and more and has even been praised for his governance ability (all thanks to the “fairy” ). The unhappy (as he wants to inherit the throne) Yin Zheng then says that the crown prince doing such good acts is good for all the people. An Da tells Yin Zheng not to worry as the crown prince cannot compare to Yin Zheng (true). Yin Zeng replies that it doesn’t matter as the crown princes is from the first wife and that Yin Zeng is only the son of the second wife. No matter how hard he works, he will never be anything more than the emperor’s brother. Yin Zeng then warns An Da about being openly against the crown prince (by tattling to the emperor). An Da doesn’t plan on it as one never knows what the future holds. An Da then tells Yin Zeng that sand cannot hide a pearl’s shine and that he believes that the emperor will come to see Yin Zeng’s merits. Ying Zeng thanks him for his loyalty. So looks like Yin Zeng was plotting something against the crown prince when he an Yu San hatched their plot for the beauty contest.
At Yin Reng’s residence, his wife is in awe of all the gifts the emperor has given his son for being such a help. Yin Reng says that even he cannot believe his good fortune. His wife realizes just how good a luck charm the fairy is. Fu Jin (title of the crown prince’s wife) then says he can easily become emperor with the fairy’s help. One of Yin Reng’s men approach and delivers the news that they are unable to find the woods that the fairy drew. This upsets Yin Reng because Qing Chuan has stayed with him because he promised to help her find it. Fu Jin approaches her husband with a plan – to make the fairy his second wife! Yin Reng doesn’t think this plan will work as the fairy is looking for a special place and when he finds it, she will leave. In China at that time, women were supposed to be devoted to three men: their husbands, sons and fathers. So, once the fairy became his wife, she would have to stick by him! Aiyo, what a plan. The most shocking part of this is the fact that Yin Reng’s wife actually proposed it first. Yin Reng asks if Fu Jin will be jealous and his wife said that her mother taught her that to become an empress a woman must know a single word “endure.” Plus, the emperor has many wives and consorts, so if Fu Jin was to be jealous of all of those girls, she would die of it. Yin Reng says that is very reasonable and their plot to bring the fairy into the royal family is started.
At this time Qing Chuan shows up and asks the prince how the task she set him is going. At this time Fu Jin then says that they have good news. What is the news? Why, that Tai Zi wants to marry Qing Chuan. Surprised, Qing Chuan goes to meet them and Fu Jin asks if she is not happy. Qing Chuan says that of course she is happy, but then asks in the same breath who’s stupid idea was the marriage proposal. Fu Jin points to Yin Reng who points to his wife. So much for standing by your spouse. Qing Chuan then goes up to the prince and asks if he really wants to marry her. Yin Reng says that he does and Qing Chuan then says that she will never be a second wife. If the Tai Zi really wants to marry her, then he has to divorce Fu Jin first. Qing Chuan then goes off and the nervous Fu Jin tries to back track. Yin Reng looks at his wife and tells him that he has to keep the fairy beside him forever – thus his first wife is getting the axe! Who knew that there was divorce in the Qing dynasty era? Yin Reng apologizes and immediately runs off after Qing Chuan calling her his “new wife” while his old wife throws a fit.
Back in the prince’s quarters, Qing Chuang looks at the picture of herself and her mother on her MP3 player and wonders when she will ever make it back home. A maid comes in and Qing Chuan asks what the ruckus is outside. The made replies that a wedding banquet is being prepared for her. This shocks Qing Chuan who never thought the crown prince would actually take her proposal seriously. She tells the maid that is impossible as she said she will only be the first wife. The maid then tells her that Fu Jin is decreed the second wife so that Qing Chuan will be the first wife. The maid then leaves the horrified Qing Chuan. She thinks to herself that she now knows why the crown prince didn’t come to a good end in history. Her only option now is fleeing. She quickly gathers up provisions and goes to steal away from the palace.
As she sneaks out, she hides quickly from a troop of dancers brought in to celebrate the prince’s impending nuptials. Qing Chuan recognizes Yu San from the beauty pageant. While walking, Yu San drops a packet and quickly kicks it away in hopes that no one notices. When Qing Chuan investigates, she smells gun powder. Just as she is about to go and investigate further, Fu Jin and other court ladies come and they ask her how Yin Reng could suddenly demote her after treating her so well for so long. Another lady then replies that men only care about the new and not the old and after a while every flower loses their bloom. Fu Jin tells them to shut up and then spies Qing Chuan who is forced to leave her hiding place. Fu Jin then introduces her to the other ladies and then pushes her into a nearby pond. The court ladies all laugh and abandon Qing Chuan, who apparently cannot swim.
Qing Chuan calls for help and a man passing by hears her and immediately jumps in after her and saves her. Once they are safely back on solid ground, the man smells himself and it not pleased. He demands to know who Qing Chuan is and how she could manage to fall into a pond with such a big yard. Maids then pass by and calls him 8th A Ge (Ba A Ge – meaning he is the emperor’s eighth son – he has at least 18 of them). Hearing his title, Qing Chuan looks at him closely and realizes that he is the prince who fights over the throne with Yong Zheng. She is surprised at how young he appears. She grabs him and looks at him closely and he shakes her off. He then tells her that if he had known that she was to be his brother’s second wife, he would have left her to die. Qing Chuan stops him and asks why and he tells her its because a materialistic person such as her self has no reason to live. Ouch. Qing Chuan stops him and asks how she is materialistic. Yin Si then asks why she got close to his brother, why Tai Zi thinks she is a fairy, and why she demanded to be the first wife. Qing Chuan says nothing and the prince takes her silence as agreement and goes to leave. Qing Chuan grabs his arm slaps him hard across the face, shocking Yin Si. And that is where the episode ends. Does the girl have a death wish to insult a prince like that?
Oh well, despite the not too promising start, this drama has sucked me in and I am totally rooting for Yin Si and Qing Chuan.