Having returned home, Maomao (Aoi Yûki) awakens in bed, looking forward to a quiet day with her father. But when a courtesan and her guest are discovered suffering ill effects of poisoning, Maomao’s quiet visit becomes anything but in The Apothecary Diaries (Kusuriya no Hitorigoto) Episode 8, “Wheat Stalks.”
With no palace intrigue or larger character narratives to split time within this episode, the show brings all of its focus to bear on the poisoning and the mystery that comes to surround it. When Maomao is first brought to the scene, the two victims are still on site and struggling to survive. The way the episode captures Maomao’s shift from her normal personality to life-saving mode is simple but effective. The emphasis on little details, the tying back of her hair, and shifts in her vocal tone and body language are conveyed with skill. While it is far from the first time the viewer has witnessed this change in the series lead, it remains striking every time it occurs.
Once the patients are stable and the situation has calmed down, The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8 shifts into forensics mode as Maomao begins deducing what transpired. But this investigation is a little different, as this time her father is present as well. As it turns out, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
While the first introductions to Maomao established that she learned the apothecary trade from her father, this is the first time viewers see that her deduction skills also connect back to him. He is quickly established as being smarter than her, solving the problem at hand with little more than a glance, though he doesn’t share everything with his daughter, allowing her to come to her own conclusions. While this initially feels like a weak plot decision to make the unraveling mystery take longer to reveal, the final conclusion comes together in a way that showcases why her father didn’t wish to speak about his findings.
Even outside of palaces and political machinations, few things in life are uncomplicated. The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8 showcases this through its exploration of the motives of not only the poisoner but also those who have to deal with the aftermath of the event. Politics, reputation, and love come together to make a mystery that bears a complexity that feels genuine to the intricacies of life. Maomao’s final deductions reveal a plot that is understandable in its motivations while leaving the viewer with complicated feelings for all involved.
These nuanced feelings are further informed thanks to the way the episode presents Maomao’s findings visually. As she puts together each step that led to the crime and what transpires immediately afterward, the visuals capture the moments with fluidity as they play out in Maomao’s mind.
While most of this episode is on the dour side of things, The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8 makes sure to let viewers depart with a sense of fun as well in order to cleanse the emotional palette. Returning to the rear palace, Maomao finds herself confronted by a rather upset Jinshi (Takeo Otsuka, Synduality Noir). Jinshi is upset because Maomao turned to someone else for help visiting home instead of him. His frustration turns into a moment of humorous miscommunication when Maomao explains that she went to someone else due to what she had to exchange for the favor of helping her return home. The visual gag surrounding Jinshi’s reaction hits perfectly following the grim nature of the main story.
The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8 delivers a strong story that seamlessly works in elements of Maomao’s personal life before the palace with an intriguing mystery for the brilliant apothecary to solve. The layer of social challenges that come to complicate the situation allows the episode to layer on further elements for the viewer to turn over in their head.
The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8 is streaming now on Crunchyroll
The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8
The Apothecary Diaries Episode 8 delivers a strong story that seamlessly works in elements of Maomao’s personal life before the palace with an intriguing mystery for the brilliant apothecary to solve.