I like both Chen Kun's and Ni Ni's acting. They are very good at bring the characters to life and performing the nuances of social dynamics back then. As a person who used to live in China as a foreigner and learning about the history and cultural of symbols of ancient China, I think they did a real good job depicting the elaborate and rich culture of ancient Chinese Empire, many of the props are very similar to some of the pieces of furniture that my family got to appreciate Ancient Chinese arts, some being carved and painted with traditions lasting from the times of the dynasties (wait, it's not stuff from an Emperor's palace, the art form is from that era). Although Tiansheng is a fictional dynasty, I believe it is during the times of the Tang Dynasty, since they reference Zhuge Liang from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms a lot, even as to say that Ning Yi's mentor as a reincarnation of Zhuge Liang. According to my studies, this dynasty is the only one that allowed females to hold high status in terms of holding occupations that are traditionally given to men. Of course, it's not like present America, but it was more progressive in comparison to other societies that were going on during that time. I like that the writers and actors made sure to be really rigid regarding the 'honorifics' and their levels of power, because it is what powers the dynamics and dilemmas that the characters are facing. Without the awe and reverence that the characters have for the emperor they wouldn't be so 'trapped' in their fates and destinies. I love the show and got really obsessed with AFTER the show. And I wished there was a better ending because in my modern eyes, I didn't like the ending for Ning Yi and Fang Zhi Wei, because Ning Yi sacrificed so much for her (remember the part his eyes were tearing up when he was pleading for her life in front of his father, and then he gave her two ways to get out of the mess with the first way was to have her claim that she was pregnant with his child) and even risked his own life many times to save her life, only to see or find out that she dies in the end (it looks like the gift he gave her - that is an extension of her life was eventually no appreciated because she chose to end it). I find it interesting that Ning Yi's name literally means 'Tranquil Chess' - chess here meaning the Chinese Chess 'Go', while Fang Zhi Wei's name literally means 'Phoenix Knowledge Diminutive' and 'Diminutive Knowledge' (Best translation I could get from my understanding of Chinese Characters). The original novel title 'Huang Quan' means 'Phoenix Power (Right to Authority)'. At first, I thought the phoenix refers to Ning Yi, but it actually refers to FZW because her name, Feng is a part of Fenghuang - phoenix. In Chinese culture, the phoenix represents justice, prosperity, knowledge and other noble virtues. It also represents the power of an Empress. As the phoenix in Chinese culture is a bird that never dies, it represents immortality, meaning that her death is only the beginning of her legacy and memory that never dies - that is her influence on Ning Yi would be always be in his rule over Tiansheng and passed on over the generations. Ning Yi is manipulative and calculating, but almost everyone else is manipulative and it seems to be the only driver of influence in this society and other ancient societies ('truths are not meant to be investigated'), but the moral code that Ning Yi follows and the show heralded does not just involve loyalty - which is what almost everyone had (someone is always loyal to something, Gu Nan Yi to Master Zong, Ning Ji to Ning Yi, Shaoning to Ning Chuan, etc.) - but also to justice. The reason that Ning Yi deserves to be emperor is because he pursues justice for his mother and the brother who he believes to be just, eliminated or penalize the brothers who killed innocent people just for power, and fought for the life of the woman he loves. He did not care much for a slave trading and wanted to punish them for going against Tiansheng and killing his mother, and even possibly for slave trading. Ning Qi was greedy enough to kill his own half-sister for the throne, Ning Chuan was heartless enough to kill his half brother - Ning Qiao, and Ning Yan and Ning Sheng helped Ning Chuan with the unjust killing of Ning Qiao, Ning Ji does not want to be emperor and was not qualified, so Ning Yi is the only one who deserves the throne, despite the fact he was the sixth prince and probably fifth in line. None of the Da Cheng princes deserve to have their empire back because both were horribly selfish, especially the fourth prince. As FZW is the only one who held on to this moral code, she was the only one by fate was given titles and eventually the empress of Jinshi. Starting at the point where she was asked to marry Shaoning, she started to lose it, and that's because she did not stick to the moral code of justice (''poisoned Ning Yi). This is when she started getting into trouble and getting captured and not being able to get out of trouble. The only thing that I did not get is the part where FZW was given this potion where she lost her memory. She agreed to it because Ning Yi wanted her to in order to escape the captivity of Prince of An, but did Ning Yi know she was going to be married to the Prince of An and therefore distracted him and allowed Ning Yi to cause the explosion to the extent of destroying the palace?