Gong Episode 3 Part 1 Recap
**Just a note, I am not going by the DVD version which puts Gong at 38 episodes, but rather the TV version**
Qing Chuan helps Xi gain the emperor’s interest, which makes you think her palace life won’t be too hard, but that is far from true. To save Su Yan from the 8th prince’s wrath, Qing Chuan interrupts and makes Yin Si her enemy. Plus we have Yin Zhen (4th prince), plotting with Li and using his mother Consort De, to try to take on the position of crown prince left empty since Yin Reng (2nd prince/Tai Zi) was arrested.
MoMo takes Qing Chuan to her quarters and explains about her duties (which consist of nothing except for thinking of a plan to get the emperor to notice Concubine Xi. As the come to the maid quarters, they see the other maids bullying another one. They call her many vile things and even through food at her. Qing Chuan immediately runs to the woman’s rescue only to be told that the maid offended the 8th prince by trying to seduce him so the maids were trying to chase her out lest the 8th prince sends the poor woman to the Hard Labor Bureau. The other maids then demand to know who Qing Chuan is and MoMo introduces her as a new maid who was held up because Concubine Xi was talking to her. The maids then complain that the maid quarters are already too full.
When Qing Chuan keeps concerning herself with the black sheep maid, the other maids scold her for her concern and say they are in for a good show. MoMo then scolds Qing Chuan for not listening to her explanation of palace rules. Your own survival comes before anyone else’s. MoMo then tells the fallen maid to quickly leave. The maid goes off and Qing Chuan is hit with the reality of how cruel a place the palace can be. One maid hands her a broom and tells her to get to work, but MoMo says that Qing Chuan is special and does not need to participate in the chores with the other maids. MoMo then takes Qing Chuan to her room (she gets one all to herself – another reason for the other maids of Concubine Xi’s palace to hate her) and warns her to come up with a good plan for Xi. MoMo says if Qing Chuan needs any help, the tell her and she will get the other maids to help.
That night, two of the new maids complain about how they have to serve Qing Chuan who has an unknown background and is just a maid like them. They gossip about how Qing Chuan lays in bed staring into air versus working. At that moment, Qing Chuan comes out lost in thought, trying to figure out a way to capture the Emperor’s attention. The maids then begin making snide remarks about her and one even sweeps Qing Chuan into the wall for getting in the way of their cleaning duties. A light bulb goes off in Qing Chuan’s head and she comes close to the maids who fear that she will retaliate against them. Instead, Qing Chuan thanks them for making her slip as it made her think of a good idea. She then asks the two to help her find some carpenters.
The next day the maids gather outside Qing Chuan’s room trying to figure out what is going on. When the door opens, sawdust and shavings fly out and the maids step back. Two maids come out with piles of shavings and one maid stops them and asks what is going on. The maid replies that it is something she has never seen nor heard of before. This intrigues the maids even more and they gather once more at the door and try to peek inside to see just what this strange thing is that is being built. MoMo then comes out covered in sawdust and shavings herself. Just what has Qing Chuan got up her sleeve?
The day of the emperor’s party dawns and the concubines all wonder why his majesty is late. Consort De says that the dynasty is peaceful, but if anything important comes up, the emperor will be sure to take care of it. The younger women praise Consort De for her patience and thoughtfulness – no wonder she takes care of the inner palace in place of the late empress (who died shortly after the crown prince was born). De says it is because she is old and experienced and an eye sore, so that is why she has such a job. The other concubines are young and beautiful and deserve the emperor’s attentions. Then the princes that are actually staying in the palace show up and Yin Zhen asks his mother (Consort De) if their father was present and she sends her personal maid Fei Cu to look into the emperor’s tardiness.
And why is the emperor late? Kang Xi is being held up by matters of state. His officials have put together a petition demanding that since the Tai Zi has been deposed, then a new one should be named to keep the empire and its people peaceful and reassured. Kang Xi asks their opinion on who the crown prince should be and when he is met with silence, he says that since they don’t even know then they should put the matter aside until later and dismisses the court. One official steps up and demands that the emperor take the matter seriously. Kang Xi stops and says it is exactly because he takes the matter seriously that he doesn’t want to be hasty – that is how Yin Reng became the crown prince and look how disastrous that turned out. The emperor says he will seriously consider all of his options carefully before choosing among his remaining sons. Again the official urges Kang Xi to hurry and decide to keep the peace as they don’t want the mistakes of past feuds for the thrones to disturb the peaceful empire. Kang Xi says that since he is still alive – which son would dare fight for the throne. He puts the issue to rest once more and leaves.
Fei Cui returns and tells Consort De why the emperor was waylaid. At that moment the emperor then arrives for his birthday celebration. Everyone goes inside and the festivities begin. While the dancers are dancing, Consort De asks the emperor to pardon the Tai Zi (thus the heir problem would be resolved, plus Yin Reng is the son of the late empress). Not wanting to hear anymore, Kang Xi threatens De with imprisonment if she continues speaking up for Yin Reng. De sits down, but the matter is far from over. The celebration then continues when a woman on rollerblades comes zooming in, catching everyone’s attention. She performs a dance which catches the emperor’s eye. So this is what Qing chuan cooked up. The woman then removes her mask and it is Concubine Xi! Not a surprise. Of course, the emperor then spends the night with Xi. Looks like she got what she wanted.
The next morning after the emperor leaves, Xi wakes up and asks if anyone is still around. A eunuch approaches (I wonder if he really is eunuch?) and offers to help her wash up. This shocks Xi and we get a flashback when Xi was just plain ol’ Rou’er and that man was her first love. He failed the imperial exams and was complaining about the unfairness. She gives him money and lets him know that she will go to the palace and become a lady-in-waiting to help her family and to help advance his career (by giving him money). He says that he doesn’t want money, but her. She tells him to become a government official and marry a good woman and have lots of kids to prove that she is not wrong about him. She then runs off. End of flashback.
Xi is not happy to see her former love working in the palace. He tells her not to be sad for him as his greates wish is to be near her. Xi scoffs at this and says that she is not sad for him, nor does he move her at all. He is a servant beneath her notice. As it stands, he isn’t even better than a common man on the street, let alone the emperor. She gives him a kick and sends him sprawling, telling him to leave. Xi then gets up and tells him that next time he sees her he best make a detour because Xi doesn’t want to see him ever again. He says nothing, but cries and crawls out of the room. Later, her tears bely the cold words she said to her ex-lover. Her maids come and ask why she is crying. Xi says she is not as she is enjoying being the emperor’s favorite. She then tells them to get her sedan ready. Why? She is going to parade herself and let the palace know she is the emperor’s current woman.
The fourth prince and Eunuch Li watch Xi go by and Yin Zhen comments on Xi’s current popularity. Li says that is right. Ever since she did that special dance on Kang Xi’s birthday, she has been the one chosen to sleep with the emperor. People in the palace are going out of their way to shower her with gifts (to gain her favor and the emperor’s). Yin Zhen says he must be the only one who didn’t send her anything. Li asks him if he wants to follow the current flow. Yin Zhen won’t as Xi, who has no sons or children at all with the emperor, would want a prince whose mother is not around in order to protect her later. Since Yin Zhen’s mother is alive and well, Xi will not want to help him. Li tells Yin Zhen that his mother is still well loved by the emperor, too. Yin Zhen then says that it is a pity that De only loves his little brother (the 14th prince). Yin Zhen then says that Li is the only one he can count on. This flatters Li who tells him that he will gladly help the 4th prince, but he has still not earned back Kang Xi’s trust completely since the Shun’zi incident. That is why Li has the time to meet and talk with Yin Zhen.
Yin Zhen then asks about Su Yan. Li said at the time he couldn’t single Su Yan out, but later he found her and discussed with her all the emperor’s habits and likes. This way she will be well prepared to earn his favoritism. So later he will have her serve him and won’t suspect her of being a spy at all. Yin Zhen smiles happily at this news and tells Li that he has done well.
Back at Xi’s palace, Xi thanks Qing Chuan for her help and says that Xi will grant her a wish. Qing Chuan, thinking that a concubine might have more power than the crown prince, paints another picture of the woods and asks for Xi’s help. This surprises Xi that Qing Chuan doesn’t want any reward other than help finding that place. Xi says that as long as Qing Chuan helps and pleases her, she will give her any reward she wants. Xi then asks what those special shoes were. Qing Chuan replies that they are skates. Xi says that the majesty is growing tired of the skates – does Qing Chuan have any new ideas? Qing Chuan then says that Xi shouldn’t keep coming up with new tricks, but should instead try to make herself part of the emperor’s routine (if she’s a habit, then he will keep coming back). Xi likes the sound of this and asks how it can be done. Qing Chuan can’t remember her history on this matter and just decides to say anything that comes to mind. She tells Xi that Xi must know the emperor’s favorite food and favorite place so Xi should take that food and go to that place. Once she’s done that, they can discuss more later. Xi recalls how the emperor loves the imperial gardens and quickly asks MoMo to go there with her in hopes of running into Kang Xi. Of course, this means Xi has ignored Qing Chuan’s drawing and plea for help.
Su Yan is in the imperial garden. She has prepared a fruit platter for the emperor and worries about what to do when she sees the emperor. She practices a greeting when Xi stops by. Xi notices the fruit and Su Yan’s beauty. Xi asks Su Yan if she wishes to see the emperor all that much. Su Yan apologizes and Xi tells her that if she wishes to see the emperor, then Su Yan should come to Xi’s palace. Su Yan doesn’t want to, but has no choice. She follows Xi with the platter. Once there, Xi pretties her up and says that Su Yan is prettier than herself. Xi then mentions Concubine Yi – a favorite of of the emperor’s. When Xi came, the emperor fell in love with Xi’s singing and Yi fell out of favor. Xi will not allow Su Yan to have a chance to do the same thing. Su Yan is then tied up and gagged and thrown in the closet. The door is left cracked open for Su Yan to see. When the emperor arrives, Xi claims she prepared the fruit platter and sends her maids away while Xi feeds the emperor fruit.
After the emperor leaves, Xi ungags Su Yan and asks if she is happy to have seen the emperor. Xi then tells Su Yan that she had better not try such a thing again or Xi won’t let her off. Xi then calls for brush and ink and draws two black xs on her face and tells her to run around Xi’s palace 10 times. MoMo is sent to watch over her, but when 8th, 9th, and 10th princes come, MoMo runs away as she doesn’t want to deal with the three troublemakers. Su Yan accidentally bumps into the 8th prince and immediately the three brothers start bullying her and threatening to take her to the Hard Labor Bureau. Su Yan apologizes, but Yin Si is having none of it. Qing Chuan sees this and wants to rush over to help, but also doesn’t want to run into the 8th prince. In the end, she can’t stand to watch the bullying continue and charges into the fray.
Qing Chuan scolds the three princes for bullying a lone woman. She tells Yin Si that if the maid has done wrong, then the Internal Affairs department should be told and should handle the matter. Yin Si recognizes Qing Chuan and compliments her on becoming a maid after not being able to become Yin Reng’s wife. 9th and 10th princes asks Yin Si if that is the vain woman he mentioned earlier. They then accuse Qing Chuan of standing out to capture their attention. If she truly did that, then she made a mistake because if you displease those three, they make your life a living hell. Qing Chuan ignores the princes and grabs Su Yan’s hand to leave, but they won’t let the girls go. The younger two say that since Qing Chuan brought up palace rules – is she following them? They are princes, the girls are just maids. The two brothers then go to drag the girls off to the Hard Labor Bureau, but Qing Chuan will not go. She doesn’t care if they are princes – they were just born lucky. If the princes were born in the same situation as the two girls, would they be any better? Needless to say this shocks 9th & 10th princes.
Qing Chuan then turns on Yin Si and tells him to stop accusing people of being materialistic. Not everyone cares about his money and status. Qing Chuan then goes back to Su Yan and faces the other two princes, telling them that they should all go to the Inner Affair Bureau to have the matter settled. No, they should go before the emperor as the princes do not have the right to take the law into their own hands. Yin Si comes up with a smile and taps Qing Chuan on the shoulder. When she turns, he asks if she knows what will happen if she crosses him and his two younger brothers. Qing Chuan asks who cares – surprising Yin Si. She then says that she just doesn’t want to see them bullying a poor defenseless girl. Yin Si tells Qing Chuan that he and is brothers will make her life even worse than if she had been sent for hard labor. He warns her that she will soon learn that the choice she made today was a foolish one. Yin Si then calls for his brothers and the three leave (I love this annoying, childish trio!).
After they leave, Su Yan apologizes as Qing Chuan offended the princes for her sake. Qing Chuan nonchalantly tosses the matter aside saying that they will cross that bridge when the come to it (that bridge referring to the princes’ bullying). Su Yan thanks her and then runs off. Qing Chuan goes after her and finds her cleaning off her face. Qing Chuan recognizes her and is surprised. Su Yan says that they have seen each other once before and Qing Chuan corrects her, saying it is twice now. Qing Chuan then lets Su Yan know that Qing Chuan knows Su Yan is responsible for the fire at the crown prince’s palace as she saw the gunpowder fall from Su Yan’s sleeve. This surprises Su Yan. Qing Chuan asks why Su Yan did that as didn’t Su Yan know that innocents could die. Su Yan replies that her family died at the crown prince’s hand so she wanted to win the beauty competition to get close to him and kill him for revenge (is any of that true or is it a just a lie to protect Yin Zhen’s involvement?). Qing Chuan then reminds her that the innocent 18th prince was killed instead. Su Yan says that is why she is in the palace – to redeem herself for killing the prince (this one I at least know is a lie). Qing Chuan calls her a pitiful person and Su Yan says that she has face death so often, that she doesn’t care – but now Qing Chuan has offended Yin Si in order to help Su Yan. What will Qing Chuan do? Two other maids come in and overhear this part. Qing Chuan throws her arm around Su Yan’s shoulder and tells her that she doesn’t care what happens. Plus, if word gets to the emperor, Qing Chuan doesn’t believe he will shield his sons since they have done wrong. Qing Chuan then says they have affinity for meeting each other yet again and introduces herself. Qing Chuan then says they should be friends and help each other. Su Yan introduces herself, thanks Qing Chuan once more and leaves.
The two eavesdropping maids are happy to hear that Qing Chuan has offended the 8th prince. You just know those two will help the 8th prince torture Qing Chuan.
That night, Su Yan goes to a secluded part of the garden to meet Yin Zhen. Before she can say anything, he tells her that he has heard everything already. First she offended Xi, then Yin Si. Looks like Su Yan has offended everyone already. Su Yan asks what she can do and Yin Zhen turns around and tells her not to do anything and wait for his word. He goes to leave and Su Yan stops to plead with him to help Qing Chuan with Yin Si since Qing Chuan offended the 8th prince to help Su Yan. Yin Zhen tells her to not be emotional – plus if he helps Qing Chuan, it will expose Yin Zhen’s and Su Yan’s connection which will not be good for their plot. Yin Zhen tells Su Yan to remember it is safer to do nothing in the palace. Poor Su Yan, she really wants to help Qing Chuan.
Meanwhile, the eavesdropping maids take Qing Chuan to an unused building to clean saying it is under Xi’s orders. Xin Lian then locks Qing Chuan in the dusty place. The bullying has begun in full. The next morning, Li tells his helpers that the late empress’s birthday is approaching so they need to clean up her old quarters. It appears that Qing Chuan has been locked in forbidden room (the room where the former empress died giving birth to Yin Reng). They hear Qing Chuan begging for help, afraid it is a ghost, the open the door. Li scolds her for being in a forbidden place and tells his helpers to drag her away for a beating (an intruder gets at least 20 lashes). Qing Chuan pleads her innocence, but they won’t listen.
Yin Zhen visits his mother who is trying to thread a needle. He takes the thread and needle from De and does it for her. De asks why she has the pleasure of seeing her son. He says he just wished to see his mother. De congratulates her son for being filial. Yin Zhen asks why his mother is doing such work and she replies that Kang Xi likes her needlework. Yin Zhen then wonders why, since his mother loves the emperor so much, De doesn’t do anything to keep the emperor by her side. De replies that there are 3000 beauties in the palace (seriously!?) and it would be selfish of her to monopolize him. Fei Cui then comes and tells De that the dessert will go bad if it is reheated again. Yin Zhen asks after it and De tells him that she heard of the emperor’s cough and prepared that for him and her maid replies that the emperor has never come so De hasn’t been able to get it to him. Yin Zhen tells his mother to go and deliver it to the emperor, but De feels that is not right and will cause unnecessary gossip. This annoys Yin Zhen and he does get De to go and deliver the dessert to the emperor.
The emperor is happy to get the dessert as De’s medicine isn’t as evil tasting as the medicine prescribed by physicians. De then tells him he needs to rest more. The emperor picks up a stack of petition and says that he has no time as the work is piling up. De then mentions that even though the crown prince wasn’t the best, he at least helped ease some of the emperor’s burden, but he can’t do that since he is in jail. At this, Yin Zhen tells his mother that Kang Xi has many sons so why only mention the crown prince. He and his brothers are there to help aid the emperor. This earns Yin Zhen a scolding from De from overstepping his bounds as he is not crown prince so how can he help the emperor? Kang Xi says his 4th son is not wrong. Sharing the work does not necessarily mean having to do the crown prince’s royal duties. Kang Xi then mentions a problem with officials siphoning money that was sent to help with the Yellow River disaster. He then asks Yin Zhen’s opinion. Yin Zhen tells his father to have lower officials become watchdogs and when they catch the culprits, then replace them with the lower officials, thus no one will corrupt again in order to save themselves. The emperor is pleased to hear such a good answer. He praises Yin Zhen saying he will be a good help to dynasty in the future. Yin Zhen smiles and thanks his father for the praise while De does not look happy at all. Why?
Poor 4th prince has a mother who doesn’t seem to want to help him at all and would rather get the emperor to bring back Yin Reng then choose a new heir. Ah, 4th prince, 4th prince. I am not sure how I really like him. Needless to say, while he is kind, his cold political agenda wipes out most of his kindness. I bet that when Qing Chuan gets to know the real Yin Zhen, he will not match the ideal she created from the history books.