The Apothecary Diaries – Season 1 Episode 5 Recap & Review

Covert Operations

Episode 5 of The Apothecary Diaries begins with Jinshi sparring with a man named Basen. The next day, he ponders the scenario involving Lady Lihua’s lady-in-waiting and Maomao. Maomao finds a special ingredient she’s been searching for. Before she uses it for her purposes, she visits Xiaolan and shares a meal with her. After gossiping about a rumor with her, Maomao visits the palace’s doctor and informs him of the mushroom she found during her break. He helps her make a meal out of it. 

Suddenly, a person from the palace enters the room and informs the doctor about a curse that spread to his hands. Maomao examines the man’s wound and thinks it’s a weird rash. The doctor asks Maomao if she can make an ointment for the gentleman. While Maomao is preparing the ointment, the man explains the origins behind his issue to her and the doctor. Maomao says it must be related to fireworks and says her ointment should help the man out. Jinshi arrives and asks Maomao to follow him somewhere to discuss more about the rash issues. 

After helping him out, Maomao leaves but Jinshi tasks her with making him some of that mushroom stew she had with the doctor. While alone, Maomao ponders the colored wood tablets that are related to the rash issues cropping up in the palace. She wonders if it has to be code-related. Maomao returns to Gyokyou’s residence and her lady-in-waiting friends give her a dress she’s required to wear at the upcoming garden party. They explain two other concubines will be attending the party besides Lihua and Gyokyou. They’re named Lishu and Ah-Duo. 

Gyokyou tells Maomao everyone must comply with the emperor’s demands but can do anything they please at the party. Maomao heads to her office to create things that’ll help her prepare for the festivities. Hongniang enters her quarters and Maomao shows her a neat underrobe that’ll help her stay warm at the party. She asks Maomao if she can make one for everyone and Maomao complies. Meanwhile, someone informs Jinshi that they’re not finding any luck in recovering people who suffered from the rash. 

Jinshi meets with the other concubines before speaking with Gyokyou. He notices Maomao’s freckles are gone and admires her new look. Maomao reveals she’s always worn make-up in every encounter. However, instead of wanting to look beautiful, she made herself uglier to avoid complications with sexual deviants. Jinshi apologizes for not helping Maomao deal with her kidnappers, but she says it’s okay. Jinshi bestows Maomao with his hairpin and she asks the girls and Gyokyou what it means when a man does so.

The party officially begins and the episode closes with a glimpse of a woman in the dark. 

The Episode Review

The Apothecary Diaries teeters toward the calm spectrum this week with episode five. Besides the on-going dilemma regarding the palace residents’ burns and the garden party, not much happens in this chapter. After the incredible episodes we’ve received in the past weeks, it makes sense for Studio OLM to unwind with a more relaxing episode for viewers to sit through. 

At the same time, this episode gives viewers remarkable visuals and more amusing and heartfelt interactions between Jinshi and Maomao. It was nice seeing Maomao dawn a different attire than her usual one. Seeing her in this new, beautiful light was a treat for the eyes. Furthermore, fans received some interesting intel about her approach toward beauty and fashion. 

Moreover, this chapter briefly touches upon other concubines. While it doesn’t give us as much depth on their characters as many would hope, it’s great from a world-building perspective. I’m excited to see how Lady Lishu and Ah-Duo will affect the story’s path moving forward. Otherwise, this was an enjoyable chapter of The Apothecary Diaries. The anime continues delivering colorful and beautiful animation, pleasing character moments, and interesting phenomena to help viewers stay engaged.  

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


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