This episode starts off with chief eunuch Qiang leading a group carrying what looks like an awful lot of luggage and other possessions. Zhang Peng sarcastically asks if he’s being replaced. Sarcasm turns into terror when he learns that because (supposedly) Qi Sheng is concerned about Zhang Peng’s vomiting during pregnancy (lucky, lucky him), he was planning on moving in on Zhang Peng with the intention of keeping an eye on his wife (did I say how lucky he was?)

No no no no no to moving in (there’s a lot of outbursts in English over these next two episodes). Zhang Peng even physically bars the entrance with his body to really stress how much he’s against this idea. So of course this is going to lead to another one of his brilliant ideas to get out of this mess (eye roll).

Lu Li is perplexed again (as usual), though more specifically in this case about why a wife wouldn’t want to have sex with her husband. Despite appearances, as Zhang Peng is a very heterosexual man and as he replies in effect “How could I with another man” and to Lu Li “With you, yes. Him, no.” At least he’s still thinking about it despite his remarkable record of failure in this department. His luck as a ladies’ man seems to have departed him at the same time as … certain other attributes.

As for the great idea, Zhang Peng summons Wives Two to Five. That durian is back as are the complaints about the smell, the other wives really aren’t convinced to its merits over their preferred melon seeds on that basis alone. Their initial congratulations as to the Emperor spending more time with his Empress because of the pregnancy turns to suspicion as to why Zhang Peng is being so helpful in offering to get them more with the Emperor when even they think it should be prioritized towards the person who is actually pregnant.

Zhang Peng is certainly trying to sell it like he’s doing them a big favor out of the goodness of his heart. He has this great idea which he calls “Sleep With Emperor by Turns”. Whatever his job was back in our times, I’m guessing it wasn’t advertising. IT, I bet it was IT.

They still don’t look thrilled at the idea initially but then Zhang Peng throws the door open to the floor about how to sell it to Qi Sheng because one thing everyone agrees on is that he’s not going to be happy about this when he hears about it. Zhang Peng demonstrates he’s clearly learned a lot about the world he’s now been stranded in for some time when he brings up that the kingdom is at war with somewhere called Yun Xi and that the country is not rich (hence the implied seriousness of the drain on the country’s finances of such a war). Zhang Peng’s idea is that the wives donate whatever spare wealth they have to the war effort. This will supposedly counter both Qi Sheng being mad about this by creating an obligation with him to reciprocate, so it’s that more than the monetary value of the items. It also means the other wives are in effect paying to sleep with Qi Sheng.

Zhang Peng has clearly entered the phase of hamming it up as the Empress. I don’t know if it’s just me but the appearance of the character seemed to fluctuate between not appearing pregnant to holding their arched back to give the impression of looking pregnant and actually looking pregnant +/- the back thing. That seemed to go back and forth a bit over the next couple of episodes. Continuity and some of the production values have never been the strongest suit of this show but the important lesson here is that these don’t matter so much as long as you’re entertaining. On that note, the so called jewelry donated by the wives looks like the cheapest costume jewelry (or ‘valuables’) I’ve ever seen.

Qi Sheng was, as predicted, not happy about this at all and things he’s been sold out. Zhang Peng insists he’s done all this for Qi Sheng’s benefit (but we know if anything, not just for his benefit, don’t we?) We’re reaching a new grade of high level pork product with the hamming it up here but it’s successful as Qi Sheng agrees to go along with the plan as his wife is pregnant. If it weren’t for one small (but getting larger) drawback, there certainly are some upsides to this whole pregnant status.

We cut to the next scene finding Qi Sheng dozing off while doing calligraphy. Elsewhere, Zhang Peng seems pleased that he can finally sleep in peace. There’s even a handwritten schedule for what’s called the “Sleep Decking Schedule”. As Zhang Peng remarks on all this rigmarole and effort to make all this happen, he says “A spring rain is really more expensive than oil.” Sex, spring rain is a metaphor for sex, in case you were wondering.

The next scene isn’t quite what we expected with Qi Sheng fast asleep and one of his other wives banished to outside the bed also dozing off and when she finally drops off, it wakes Qi Sheng with an alarmed start. Despite the clear risk to her personage, the wife in question clearly has had enough of the holding pattern she’s been in and says that if the Emperor is having a problem, maybe this Viagra she just happens to have on her personage will be helpful. Skillfully inserted plug for the show’s sponsor there. Qi Sheng becomes increasingly enraged in a how dare you kind of way but the situation must have gotten seriously bad if she just keeps plowing on (metaphorically) with her sales pitch.

This approach is yet to be successful when Zhang Peng, clearly hearing something has been up with his intended plan turns up and demands to know if Qi Sheng is ill since he keeps spurning the attention of all of his other wives. At which point, Qi Sheng finally decides to get all predatory and all but threaten to pounce on him, at which point, Zhang Peng in a very (understandably) panicky state yelps OK, you’re not ill and flees. We finally see a hint of a smile on the face of Qi Sheng for the first time in a long time (maybe ever? If it’s happened, it’s been a while if it has).

The cracks in this seemingly foolproof plan finally come to a head as the four other wives start their bout of clearly staged crying in an audience with Zhang Peng. They say they want to either conscript Zhao’s Wife or become nuns because clearly the Emperor has no interest in them. It turns out that even though Qi Sheng has been spending time with exah of the other wives as per the schedule, he isn’t doing anything with them at all and instead is just falling asleep. Not only are the wives not getting anything from him in terms of physical contact, it’s even disrupting their sleep cycle, as in they’re not getting any.

Basically, it looks like they want to terminate the deal if none of this is working as they intended. They end up overplaying their hand, though. Cardinal rule, don’t play a player. Zhang Peng is totally onto them from the outset of this meeting so he says fine, then and sends Lu Li out to find a suitable out of the way temple with good scenery. To drive the point home, he says Lu Li is very efficient and really fast at this, even if we at home have seen plenty of evidence to the contrary. Zhang Peng moved fast, bluff called and suddenly, everyone’s much less likely to be going anywhere let alone becoming a nun.

Finally for this episode, Zhang Peng decides to get some outside advice, Prince Zhao (he of Zhao’s Wife fame, on account of his being married to Zhao’s Wife). Zhang Peng tries to find out if Qi Sheng has been affectionate to anyone else as it’s suggested (and clearly evident for a while now) that . Zhang Peng is of the opinion that if he has, it was to someone else (was this a double meaning, as could he be referring to the previous occupant of his wife’s body? Seems unlikely, given what we’ve heard of their past history before Zhang Peng appeared on the scene). Prince Zhao as always is in fine form and as cheeky as ever.

Zhang Peng wants to know if there was any trauma in Qi Sheng’s life, childhood or otherwise and especially due to a woman which could explain Qi Sheng;s current lack of interest in all his wives except the one who doesn’t want his attention, something found especially bizarre since Qi Sheng can have just about anything or the company of anyone he wants and yet is declining it all. Prince Zhao says that his brother, the now Emperor is behaving this way because of his loyalty and that he wasn’t sleeping with any of his other wives out of loyalty to Zhang Peng Peng, the now Empress. It seems all but confirmed that in effect Zhang Peng’s attempts to repel Qi Sheng have had the opposite effect (and how!).

Now anyone who has been paying even the slightest bit of attention at all to this show are going to be aware that Qi Sheng had been having an extensive affair known publicly to just about everyone with of all people Prince Zhao’s Wife. He even tried to have his brother assassinated, along with no end of other people as nothing more than collateral damage. If there’s a conceivable angle for Prince Zhao of all people to say such a thing given what we’ve already seen happen, it’s beyond the sign and comprehension of us mere mortals, that’s for sure. Whatever it is that led to this remarkable situation must be really worth his time to lead to this state of affairs after the affairs with his wife by the subject he’s now lavishing praise on after trying to kill him.

Finally, it’s made clear because of the assassination attempt of Qi Sheng against Zhang Peng, Zhang Peng is still not prepared to let that go. Currently safe due to circumstances in the immediate future, I guess but still burning with an understandable fury over the assassination attempt. It’s at this point we leave proceedings for this episode but it seems more likely than ever that we’re getting to a fireworks factory of some kind over all of this.

I, for one can’t wait.