The Apothecary Diaries summary and ending explained

In The Apothecary Diaries, Maomao arrives at the Rear Palace where she grabs attention for her apothecary knowledge. The series is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Plot summary:

Maomao lives with her adoptive father, Luomen, who is an apothecary in the Pleasure District. He taught her his trade and she has an incredibly inquisitive nature.

One day, while she is on her way to the reputed Verdigris House, she is kidnapped by bandits and sold to the Imperial Palace.

She gets a job as a laundry woman in the Rear Palace, where the Emperor’s concubines stay along with servants and eunuchs.

When two of the highest-ranked consorts argue after their children fall sick, Maomao decides to investigate.

She figures out what’s wrong and leaves an anonymous note with the cure. Jinshi, an important official and stunning eunuch, digs deeper to find the savior.

He roots out Maomao and introduces her to Lady Gyokuyo, whose child was saved by Maomao’s advice.

Maomao gets a promotion to lady-in-waiting and poison tester because of her background, while Jinshi takes a special interest in her.

Along with her usual duties, Maomao is enlisted to help with several instances of poisoning and sickness occurring within the rear palace.

She garners much attention for her problem-solving abilities and her worldly experience from living outside the palace.

She endears herself to the different consorts while making some enemies among the other ladies-in-waiting.

Her time in Pleasure District gives her useful knowledge in courtship and matters of the bedchamber which she imparts to the other consorts.

After uncovering an assassination attempt on one of the consorts, Maomao indirectly loses her position in the rear palace and returns home.

Jinshi wishes to have her around and employs her in his quarters in the Outer Palace where officials and military personnel are stationed.

At the outer palace, Maomao encounters similar intellectual puzzles that pique her interest.

During her time in the rear and outer palace, Maomao gets many opportunities to try out different poisons and exhibit her skills as an apothecary.

One of the people who takes a special interest in her at the outer palace is Lakan, a master strategist and high-ranking military official.

Lakan is Maomao’s birth father but she doesn’t wish to maintain a relationship with him. Jinshi is not particularly fond of Lakan either, even before he finds out about his connection to Maomao.

Lakan keeps bothering Jinshi with problems to solve around the outer palace so that he can get closer to Maomao, but they do their best to keep him away.

Maomao’s past is gradually explored as she reveals that Luomen is her adoptive father and that she was born to a courtesan in the Verdigris house.

She learns that Luomen was the court physician many years ago but he had his manhood removed and was sent away by the Empress Dowager after making a costly mistake.

Maomao spends her days solving different problems, but it is later pointed out that they might be connected.

Ending explained:

Killing intent

Maomao encounters an accidental explosion in the warehouses, multiple officials falling ill with food poisoning, and the sudden death of a metal worker.

She approaches each problem with an open mind and eventually comes up with solutions for each of them, but later on, she realizes that they might be interconnected.

After going through some records, she uncovers a plot to kill an important member of the court during a ceremonial ritual.

She rushes to the place where it is being held and saves the person, who turns out to be Jinshi.

Rising from the dead

Maomao has doubts about a court lady named Suirei when asked about the plot to kill Jinshi. She learns that Suirei killed herself, seemingly putting an end to the mystery.

However, it is just a ruse as Maomao investigates the circumstances of her death. Maomao reveals that Suirei concocted a poison that only imitates death, leading to her escape.

Maomao is more focused on the poison that brings a person back to life rather than the reason Suirei attempted to kill Jinshi, but she has no way of finding out either.

Reuniting past lovers

Maomao decides to finally face up against Lakan because he is being persistent. She sets up a game with conditions for the winner.

It is revealed that when he was younger, Lakan grew close with one of the valuable courtesans of the Verdigris House.

However, he could not afford to keep visiting her often, let alone buy out her contract. She wanted to delay her exit, so she timed Lakan’s visits and eventually got pregnant.

However, Lakan was sent away for studies and he didn’t know about the birth of the child or the courtesan’s fate.

Her value tanks and the reputation of the Verdigris House is tarnished. She eventually gets syphilis from a street worker and is hidden away by the Madam of the house.

Lakan returns and rushes to the house but he is beaten and turned away as the blame is put on him.

Maomao wins against Lakan and her condition is that he buy out a certain courtesan from the house.

When he is dropped off there, one of the courtesans leads Lakan to an inner room where his love from all those years ago lives.

Despite her poor condition, Lakan offers to buy her contract so that he can be with her once again.

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