‘The Apothecary Diaries’ Episodes 3 And 4 Recap & Ending Explained: Does Concubine Lihua Get Better?

The third and fourth episodes of Crunchyroll’s The Apothecary Diaries are out, and it’s about the super-chill apothecary of ancient China, Maomao, involuntarily finding herself in situations where her knowledge and skills are needed. In the previous episodes, Maomao was kidnapped and brought to the palace of ancient China, where she quickly found promotion as the emperor’s favorite concubine’s lady-in-waiting. Episode 2 ended with a maidservant spotting a strange lady against the moonlight on top of the boundary walls of the palace, and soon Maomao would need to use her brains to get to the bottom of the matter. Here’s everything that happened in episodes 3 and 4 of The Apothecary Diaries


Spoilers Ahead

Who Was The Woman On The Walls?

The third episode follows the previous story, where a woman was spotted at night on top of the palace walls. Jinshi arrives at the doctor’s apothecary, where Maomao had visited, and questions her about sleepwalking or somnambulism. With her interest piqued, he refers to a so-called ‘curse’ that has been spotted on the eastern walls of the palace and says that Maomao needs to take a look at the matter. She’d also heard about a similar situation from her friend Xiaolang, where a ghostly woman was seen dancing. Maomao learns from Jinshi that a woman named Fuyou has been found sleepwalking at night, and her ‘illness’ needs to be cured.


What Was Fuyou’s Illness?

Apparently, Fuyou was a mid-level concubine known for her dancing, but when the time came for her to perform before the emperor, she fumbled at the first go. The emperor hasn’t touched her ever since, and she sits alone in her chambers all day, and when night arrives, she breaks into a passionate dance on top of the palace walls. Maomao theorizes that it’s possible the rejection from the emperor has impacted Fuyou’s mind to such an extent that she’s developed a case of somnambulism. She suggests that the concubine be kept locked inside her chambers at night and guarded by eunuchs before she’s bestowed away. Apparently, a military officer had requested the hand of Fuyou after performing exceptionally well in a battle against barbarians, and since Fuyou wasn’t someone the emperor was particularly fond of, he didn’t give much thought to the matter.

What Was Fuyou’s Truth?

The day came for Fuyou to be handed away to the officer, and Concubine Gyokuyou approached Maomao for her thoughts on the matter. The palatial apothecary laid her thoughts bare, although with the disclaimer that it was all speculation. Maomao believed that Fuyou and the military officers grew up in the same village in a faraway land, and both had been attracted to each other since their childhood. However, a military officer could never marry a princess, which is why Fuyou purposefully messed up before the emperor so that his attention would never fall on her, and the officer insisted heavily on Fuyou. To ensure that she wasn’t fit to be in the palace in any way, Fuyou also pretended to be struck by somnambulism, whereas she was performing a dance for the wellbeing of her beloved.


We are presented with a montage of Fuyou and the officer climbing into their carriage and embracing each other passionately, as well as scenes of them sitting peacefully on a hilltop and also hugging each other in what seems like the officer’s home. This confirms that Maomao was right about the entire situation and that she’s indeed a strikingly brilliant young woman. Gyokuyou questions Maomao about whether being envious of Fuyou, a woman who’s faced all odds to be with her lover, makes the concubine a horrid woman. Maomao said that love is a fascinating thing, and it’s not wrong to be wanton with such an emotion. Once again, she’d solved a case in the palace while not obstructing the union of two lovers.

What Task Does The Emperor Entrust Maomao With?

The latest episode is where we get to find a never-seen-before side of Maomao, where she’s tasked personally by the emperor of ancient China. One evening, Maomao is asked into the Jade Palace, the residence of Concubine Gyokuyou, where the emperor himself is present. Having finished her task as the food taster, Maomao is on her way out when the emperor addresses her directly. He mentions that Concubine Lihua’s health hasn’t improved and commands Maomao to “look after her” or make her better. Maomao knows that a command to ‘make someone better’ by the emperor is infallible, and in case someone does fail, their head is rolled down.


Why Was Lihua’s Health Worsening?

Maomao visits the ailing Lihua, whose health has been worsening rapidly, and she’s refusing to eat anything. However, Maomao’s repeated attempts to enter the concubine’s bedchambers are refused by her ladies-in-waiting, who constantly throw Maomao out while chiding her for bringing in food for the sick. Instead, they carry lobsters and crabs for a person who can barely swallow water, further affecting the dying lady. Multiple attempts by the apothecary fail until Jinshi notices the situation and takes hold of Maomao in one hand and smiles at the ladies. With the women blushing all over thanks to Jinshi’s irresistible charms, Maomao finds a direct path to Lihua and tries feeding her. However, she immediately figures out the cause behind her ailment. Apparently, the make-up powder that’d been banned in Episode 1 itself was still being applied to Lihua, even though it was poison.

How Does Maomao Punish The Lady-In-Waiting?

With ice in her voice, Maomao questioned which of the women were in charge of Lihua’s make-up, and when one of the women responded, the usually laidback apothecary unleashed a fearsome side. She slapped the lady-in-waiting so hard that she crumbled to the floor, and then poured the entire poisonous powder on the woman’s head. With tears in her eyes, she tried reasoning that she wanted Lihua to look beautiful, as Maomao thundered whether it was worth it now that Lihua was about to die. The woman was incarcerated, the eunuch who was supposed to remove the make-up box was flogged, and Maomao took over the duty of treating Lihua.


Does Concubine Lihua Get Better?

Maomao worked tirelessly, initially feeding rice water to the concubine and forcing Lihua to drink a diuretic tea to get the poison out of her system. When Lihua could swallow solid food, Maomao fed her ground fruits and porridge and also reminded her that the concubine had a will to live, which is why she ate food. Having lost her son, Lihua had also lost her will to live, but being told that deep down she wished to survive, she started eating better, and two months later, Lihua was healthy enough to walk by herself. Maomao found Lihua’s earlier lady-in-waiting, the one who’d been incarcerated, had returned, and the apothecary was allowed some much-needed rest.

Before Maomao took her leave from Lihua’s residence, she questioned the apothecary about whether the emperor would deign to look at her again, even if she wanted to have another child. Maomao shed all the courtly etiquettes and asked the concubine to make use of her voluminous assets to attract the attention of the emperor. Funnily enough, the visits of the emperor to his previously preferred concubine, Gyokuyou’s palace, reduced significantly, and only Maomao knew the real reason behind it.


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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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