Li Zhong must deal with the aftermath of the chaotic attack(s). He must contend with the possibility that the emperor will maybe take his life because he stabbed Madame Li. Fortunately, the Emperor says he trusts him and wants to know why he acted.
Li Zhong admits that at the time, he believed Li was going to kill him because she had a sword, was running at him, and he knows she read moreis skilled in swords. But looking back, he can see that she wouldn't pick such a public place because she had many chances to do so when they were alone (ha, you don't know Madame Li, the woman of inconsistent smarts).
Meanwhile, Madame Min has an exchange with Ru'er. She essentially calls her out for her incredibly stupid attempt to kill Madame Li. Ru'er plays innocent and accuses Min of being mean but her words aren't angry; she's incredibly smug because she is confident that she is 100% covered. Madame Min again warns her to stop engaging in self-destructive acts.
Back in her bedroom, the Emperor learns that Li'er is out of danger. She wants to visit Han, no matter how weak she is, and he promises to check on him for her. His devotion to her is like a lovesick puppy; he basically jumps into action the moment she speaks, which is such a guy thing; they aren't good with just being supportive they have to do something so he jumps to show her that he can make her life easier by checking in on Han nevermind that it's another guy. And we are given a zillion flashbacks, something I think the show has too many of because it isn't like we forgot all of this stuff.
The emperor continues to investigate. Yan is confident he won't be caught because the woman whom he paid to kill the emperor is from Wei. And she's dead. He also thinks that the focus will be on the Grand Queen Dowager. But he expresses interest in Li'er, and he essentially reveals he respects her for not having any worldly motives for power or wealth, and refers to her as a 'heroine'. He even envies her because she has the luxury to make that choice; he has to think of his country.
Li'er meanwhile awakens to find the Emperor asleep on her. Now this is the second time he has fallen asleep with her. But she touches his forehead, thinking he is having a nightmare (so she was going to....comfort him?) and he freaks out and startles her. He remarks on him falling asleep. The implication is he trusts her, and loves her.
She again says she wants to see Han. He again says nope you are injured I will look in on him. She admits she did not try to kill him, that a sword just fell in her hands, and then she saw the assassin. She tells him that she does not think that the events are related, i.e. the setup and the assassin. He agrees as many people try to kill him (I mean he isn't the most likable person). More flashbacks.
And then he finally visits Han, and lavishes praise on him although he is unconscious, because he proved he was able to do what the emperor could not.
Meanwhile, Jing and Lan'er are travelling to find Warrior Gao and they find him showing off his martial arts skills. This just shows us that Gao has the skills of Jet Li and Jackie Chan and Jon Wick all rolled into one. We learn that their locations is DALIANG.
Then we go back to Zheng. He wants to challenge the Grand Dowager directly because she has belittled his power by refusing to allow him to interrogate her men. He wants to confront her, but Li Zhong points out that she is from Chu. A confrontation with her could trigger a war with Chu, and they must deal with Wei as well--it would be a war from North and South. The emperor says f*** this and declares war on Chu.
And then he goes to the Queen's palace. Unbeknownst to him, Li Si is there and the Queen is trying to get him on her side. Now Li Si isn't a total idiot. The Queen isn't exactly favored right now, and she is from Chu. He tries to get out of accepting the gift but cannot. he accepts it, the emperor is announced, and Ru'er sneaks him out but they both observe his confrontation with the Queen Dowager. He needs to fire all of his guards because it is so silly that they don't notice them. They are hiding in plain sight.
So the emperor essentially tells the Queen to hand over her men. She challenges him and says no. He tells her he declared war on Chu, shocking her, and that he will execute all of her soldiers if he cannot interrogate them. her soldiers plead for their lives.
AND THEN LI'ER SHOWS UP. and intercedes and begs for mercy. Now it is obvious that they have decided Li'er is smart again. So Li'er pleads for mercy and argues that the men were only doing their job to protect him, and that he should not kill them. So he relents and instead exiles them. But by asking for mercy, Li'er has 1)Prevented an international fiasco 2)allowed the emperor to save face as a man because he clearly was trying to protect his woman and allowed him save face as the emperor as he showed he was going to carry out justice but he decided to make his concubine happy
While I understand her reasons for this, I still kind of wanted the emperor to carry out justice because it is very uncommon in dramas, in my opinion, for an emperor to be so direct and unwilling to indulge in the political games because he has enough power that he can actually do this.
But I digress.
What would have made this awesome is if the emperor and her had planned this in advance. but they didn't. Ruo'er is green with envy and afterwards talks again about how Li'er is just doing this for show (and again, this conclusion is not unreasonable as women in the harem constantly play games but she is completely rejecting the possibility that Li'er is perhaps legitimate). She even wonders if Li'er sent the assassin and killed it to stop the questions (no offence that is not unbelievable).
Meanwhile, Jing Ke and Lan'er talk with Warrior Gao. Gao explains that Qin was fighting Chu but must withdraw because they cannot afford a prolonged conflict. Jing Ge again speaks words that show he represents 'the small guy' or the people who are unfortunate victims in Qin's quest for essentially world domination because his only focus is the potential innocent people.
Meanwhile, the empeor talks to Li'er about her intervention on behalf of the Grand Queen Dowager. He admits that he cannot afford to offend Chu but wanted to protect her anyways. She weighs in on the political issues and states that she does not believe Wei wants Qin to actually get back their lands but instead wants to see the powerful states war with one another, weaken each other, and as a result Wei will emerge stronger. The emperor thinks about this and admits he did not think of that and that he now sees that Wei and Han would benefit from the fight especially since Qin relies upon Chu for rations.
<Oh how they are moving closer to each other, especially since she is starting to see she can actually help people and prevent conflict (as she hates war) merely by giving her point of view to the emperor, who listens; it makes it harder to hate him>
Meanwhile, Jing will train in the tai mountains since for reasons unknown to them the Qin are retreating from Chu. He then thinks this is part of the poems secret, so while the emperor is showing signs of not being so unreasonable (because now he can afford to be since his power is very solid in Qin) and we begin to see some of the stability that is emerging from having fewer states, Jing will become a threat to this fragile stability as he trains to take down the emperor, who represents EVIL to him. it will make us less sympathetic to him.
And in a shocking cliff hanger, the emperor decides Li'er will be his queen. I won't even begin to go into how stupid of an idea that is because she brings NOTHING to the table. He should be marrying a foreigner. It is the most sensible choice.
Thoughts; the show is getting better, but it still makes me angry about the very deliberate bad writing to move plot forward because Li'er clearly is not a numnut but they had her acting like one.