The Apothecary Diaries – Season 1 Episode 3 Recap & Review

The Unsettling Matter of the Spirit 

Episode 3 of The Apothecary Diaries begins with Yinghua, Guiyuan, and Ailan performing cleaning tasks and reminiscing about their time spent here so far. One of them checks on Maomao and discusses a rumor about the mysterious spirit that’s haunting the rear palace. Maomao meets with Xiaolan to discuss this rumor further. Maomao contemplates if this is a hoax or if there’s actual spirit at play here. However, she deduces it’s a mere ghost story and she and Xiaolan have nothing to fear. 

Maomao visits the rear palace’s doctor and informs the audience that he treats her with care despite the tension they had before. Jinshi interrupts Maomao’s meal session and Maomao wonders why he keeps bothering her. Maomao wonders if Jinshi has a higher position at the palace than he lets on because he’s always roaming around like he’s got nothing better to do. Jinshi asks Maomao if there’s a curse for sleepwalking other than medicine. Maomao promises to get to the bottom of the spirit issue. 

Gaoshun escorts Maomao somewhere and asks her if she can stop looking down upon Jinshi. Gaoshun introduces Maomao to Concubine Fuyou, who will be bestowed to a military officer as a reward soon. The doctor informs Maomao that Fuyou a skilled dancer stumbled during her first showing, and the emperor pays her no mind. He explains this led to her sleepwalking issue because she was shocked she was being treated as a reward. Maomao and Gaoshun leave and spy on Fuyou. 

Maomao compares her to a cotton rose and it’s the ability to change states. She asks Xiaolan to explain the spirit story more to her. Xiaolan brings up Fuyou appearing from the north side and Maomao comes up with a theory. Maomao meets with Gyokuyou to discuss sleepwalking and how Fuyou’s situation with it could relate to a case she recalls involving a woman at a brothel from her past. Maomao concludes that Fuyou needs someone to help her cancel the exchange deal to solve her sleepwalking dilemma. 

Maomao states that Fuyou was ordered to never leave her room and eunuchs were in charge of watching her. A few days pass and Gyokuyou notices something wrong with Maomao. As Maomao watches Fuyou leave the rear palace, Gyokuyou confronts Maomao about her internal issues. Maomao is worried about Fuyou’s fate involving the emperor and her beloved military officer. Mammao and Gyokuyou watch as Fuyou reunites with the officer and heads off. 

Mammao wonders what type of medicine would love to make as someone confronts Gyokuyou in her quarters. The episode closes with the man telling Gyokuyou he has a request for Mammao. 

The Episode Review

The Apothecary Diaries finally separates itself from a poison dilemma and gives us a tale where sleeping walking and separation are the major problems presented. This not only gives the series room to spread its wings but shows audiences the series’s creator has many tricks up their sleeve to keep the narrative refreshing and interesting. 

That said, the tale presented here will strike at many viewers’ core. It was interesting getting to see a new side to the concubine lifestyle through Lady Fuyou’s character and many people will be satisfied with the way things concluded with her mini arc. Being separated from someone you hold close to your heart can be daunting, so it’s nice for her to receive a conclusion that’s bright. 

On top of tackling universal themes, this episode presented nice symbolism with the cotton flower. It not only ties beautifully with Fuyou’s dilemma but pays respects to Maomao’s former apothecary roots too. In addition to giving Lady Gyokuyou a defining character moment, this chapter contained enough solid material to keep audiences invested. Hopefully, the next chapter can be just as dazzling and thoughtful as this one. 

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You can read our Season 1 Review of The Apothecary Diaries here!


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