Goodbye My Princess | 东宫 | Chinese Drama | Review | Episode Guide

Available on: Viki, YouTube

Total episode #: 52

Dumpling-rating scale:  4/5

4 dumplings

Goodbye My Princess (东宫) is based on a popular Chinese novel of the same name. The sound, set and script were all very well done. A quick compare with Princess Agents (2017)  (both are based on time periods like the Warring States period) demonstrates just how far Chinese dramas have come by way production value.

Admittedly I started watching Goodbye My Princess because of the promise of two endings — the original sad ending and an alternative happy ending — unfortunately that rumour turned out to be false and Youku issued a statement that this drama would be true to the novel (although there is an epilogue which I will go into more detail in the Episode Guide below).

Image result for goodbye my princess

While you probably won’t find a couple you can wholeheartedly get behind in Goodbye My Princess (I recommend The Story of Ming Lan for that), the story was beautifully told. Most viewers will already know the ending but for those who don’t, I won’t spoil it here (there will be spoilers below in the episode guide).

The drama is about Xiao Feng (portrayed by Peng Xiao Ran 彭小苒, also known as Fan Bing Bing’s 范冰冰 protégé) — the 9th Princess of the Wei. Well-meaning Xiao Feng is adored by everyone around her and as result is petulant and self adsorbed. As a consequence of her family’s connection, princes from various kingdoms want to marry her. However, an arranged marriage for the free-spirited Xiao Feng is out of the question.

Xiao Feng, the 9th Princess of the Wei

Amongst those princes is the ambitious 5th Prince of  the Li Empire, Li Cheng Yin (portrayed by Chen Xing Xu 陈星旭) . In an effort to bring peace to his kingdom and seek revenge against the Danchi people he disguises himself as Gu Xiao Wu — a tea merchants son — to befriend Xiao Feng and infiltrate the Wei/Danchi stronghold.

Goodbye My Princess 14
Li Cheng Yin, the 5th Prince of the Li Empire

Second male lead Gu Jian (portrayed by Shawn Wei 魏千翔) is Cheng Yin’s older cousin and Xiao Feng’s teacher. He is complicit in Cheng Yin’s betrayal of Xiao Feng but at the same time is also deeply in love with her — he is the resident conflicted/tormented character.

Goodbye My Princess cdrama Shawn Wei
Gu Jian, Xiao Feng’s teacher and Cheng Yin’s cousin

I have to say that I didn’t think I would enjoy this drama (I usually stay away from tragedies) but as the story progressed I found myself totally absorbed in the story.

This drama in lot of ways was a combination of Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and The King’s Woman (memory loss, self-sacrifice, multiple lives…). I’ve already mentioned that the cinematography and soundtrack were exquisite but the acting… female lead Peng Xiao Ran could have done better. Although her playful nature came out, her other expressions felt a bit strained — she also eerily resembles Angelababy, don’t you think?

Angelababy and Peng Xiao Ran.JPG
Angelababy and Peng Xiao Ran

As a couple though, Xiao Feng and Li Cheng Yin worked really well together. Watching Peng Xiao Ran (who was 27 years old at the time of filming) playing 18 year-old Xiao Feng alongside Chen Xing Xu (who was 21 years old) playing the older Li Cheng Yin wasn’t awkward in the way it was (with the large age gap) in I Will Never Let You Go.

While I thought that Goodbye My Princess could have done with fewer political scenes, overall the plot was tight and there weren’t too many filler scenes/episodes. I have put a 🌟 next to my favourite arcs in the Episode Guide below. Please beware there are ‼️spoilers‼️

  • Arc 1 | Episodes 1 -10 | Xiao Feng and Gu Xiao Wu 🌟
  • Arc 2 | Episodes 11 – 24 | Li Cheng Yi’s battle to be Crown Prince🌟
  • Arc 3 | Episodes 25 – 46| Xiao Feng, the Crown Princess
  • Arc 4 | Episodes 47 – 52| Xiao Feng remembers
  • Epilogue 🌟

Arc 1 | Episodes 1 -10 | Xiao Feng and Gu Xiao Wu 🌟

The first arc sets up the backstory of our characters and will explain a lot of their actions in future episodes. For example, we see how loved Xiao Feng is in the Western Province and how fiercely protected/sheltered she is by her mother, grandfather and teacher. This goes a long way in explaining why she is so carefree but also how she is unable to handle the political intrigue.

Li Cheng Yin on the other hand, is the 5th Prince and has to battle not only for the throne but for his survival. In the first arc he witness’s the murder of his older brother (the Crown Prince) which supposedly was caused by the Danchi people (Xiao Feng’s grandfather’s tribe) and finds out that his birth mother was murdered by his legitimate mother (the Empress).

Goodbye My Princess cdrama Chen Xingxu

Although Li Cheng Yin at the beginning plans to use Xiao Feng to further his power and seek revenge, her earnestness and warmth cause him to fall in love with her. This is much to the distress of Gu Jian who initially sets Li Cheng Yin up with Xiao Feng to avenge his family (who have been wiped out) but later deeply regrets it.

Goodbye My Princess Chen Xingxu Peng Xiaoran

Despite Li Cheng Yin genuinely falling in love with Xiao Feng he executes his plan and betrays Xiao Feng by killing her grandfather, forcing her mother to commit suicide and driving her father mad (pretty heavy stuff).

To further strengthen his power he also plans to force-ably marry Xiao Feng — who is still very powerful as she is still connected and has influence on both Western Province and the Danchi.

Goodbye My Princess cdrama Chen Xingxu Peng Xiaoran

Grief-stricken Xiao Feng — who genuinely fell in love with Li Chen Ying — looks for the River of Forgetfulness to forget the pain caused by the man she thought she knew (and loved).

Image result for goodbye my princess
The River of Forgetfulness – where you forget painful memories

With the assistance of A’du (her loyal friend and maidservant) she finds the River of Forgetfulness and jumps in. Li Cheng Ying follows her into the river and as a consequence also loses his painful memories, namely his love and betrayal of Xiao Feng.


Arc 2 | Episodes 11 – 25 | Li Cheng Yin’s battle to be Crown Prince 🌟

With their memories wiped, Li Cheng Yin and Xiao Feng start a new life in Central Plains’s Eastern Palace.

Xiao Feng, accompanied by loyal maidservant A’du (who pretends to be mute to stay by her side) becomes accustomed to life in the Central Plains while she waits to be married to the Crown Prince —  at this stage, the Crown Prince is Li Cheng Yin’s older, calculating brother.

Image result for goodbye my princess

Li Cheng Yin who is still maneuvering to become the Crown Prince is also in a relationship with Zhao Se Se (the daughter of a powerful family). Despite both Xiao Feng and Li Cheng Yin being in other relationship, there is an obvious connection between Li Cheng Yin and Xiao Feng  — both the Crown Prince and Se Se realise this too.

goodbye my princess cdrama

Ultimately, Li Cheng Yin outmaneuvers his older brother, exposes his corruption and his role in the murder of the previous Crown Prince. This has him sentenced to death by the Emperor. After disposing the former Crown Prince, Li Cheng Yin is now heir to the throne and is Xiao Feng fiancé.

goodbye my princess cdrama
Kingone Wang 王傳一 as Li Cheng Ye (Second Prince)

Things get complicated for our couple when:

  • Xiao Feng discovers from the jealous Zhao Se Se —  who will continually attempt to create havoc for Xiao Feng — that Li Cheng Yin killed her grandfather; and
  • Gu Jian returns (like a ghost in the night – literally).  While Gu Jian has become a bit of an alcoholic (presumably because of guilt?) he is still a formidable force to be reckoned with. It is worth noting that before Xiao Wu/Li Cheng Yin entered Xiao Feng’s life, she was in love with Gu Jian.

goodbye my princess cdrama Wei Qianxiang

Ultimately, Li Cheng Yin marries Xiao Feng (for the second time) in the Central Plains on the same day he takes Zhao Se Se as his concubine (this was a bit strange).

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Xiao Feng and Li Cheng Yin first and second marriage

Arc 3 | Episode 26 – 46 | Xiao Feng, the Crown Princess 

Arc 3 was politics heavy — the multiple sub-plots included:

  • the efforts of the Empress to control Li Cheng Yin’s haram (employing various tactics) and her ultimate downfall as a result;
  • Mingyue (the daughter of Li Cheng Yin and Gu Jian’s teacher) revenge against the Central Plain royal family for causing the death of her mother and tribe; and
  •  the Gu family (Gu Jian’s family) redeeming their family honour (obviously so important).

I can’t say I was too interested in the above sub-plots so I won’t go into any more detail. Instead I will concentrated on the main love triangle (there are multiple) below…

Image result for goodbye my princess wedding

Xiao Feng and Li Cheng Yin grow a lot closer in this arc. Li Cheng Yin (somehow, it’s not really explained) grows increasingly more attached to Xiao Feng but in order to protect her from the Empress/Zhao Se Se treats her quite badly (verbally and physically).

Despite the abuse, Xiao Feng also begins to fall in love with Li Cheng Yin. Meanwhile Gu Jian becomes increasingly concerned of Xiao Feng’s growing affection for Li Cheng Yin and abducts her in an effort to try and trigger her memory.

Image result for goodbye my princess

Gu Jian’s efforts partially pay-off and Xiao Feng remembers Gu Xiao Wu (Li Cheng Yin’s alias in the Western Province) but believes Gu Jian is Gu Xiao Wu. Despite her mixed up memories, she still has a soft spot for Li Cheng Yin which cause her to the city to wish him farewell.

While within the city gates, Li Cheng Yin spots her and starts a fire to stop her leaving. In the end Xiao Feng is hit on the head by burning timber which properly triggers her memory…


Arc 4 | Episode 47 – 52 | Xiao Feng remembers 

After her head injury, Xiao Feng remembers Li Cheng Yin’s betrayal/the fate of her family and is devastated. Li Cheng Yin who still doesn’t remember, cannot understand why Xiao Feng hates him so much and becomes increasingly unstable and controlling.

The issue summarized for our trio is — Xiao Feng is adamant on leaving, but can’t. Gu Jian is adamant on taking her away, but can’t. Li Cheng Yin is adamant on Xiao Feng staying, but she won’t.

What follows is a number of tragic deaths — the first is the death of Gu Jian who is killed on Li Cheng Yin’s order, followed soon by A’du who dies breaking Xiao Feng’s fall from the city wall.

Image result for goodbye my princess a'du death

In the end, Xiao Feng is able to return to the Western Province where her brother welcomes her. However, Li Cheng Yin (with an army arrives) invades the Western Province intent on taking Xiao Feng back while conquering the Western Province.

Xiao Feng in an effort to stop the fighting tells Li Cheng Yin that she never hated him and only hated herself for not being able to kill him for what he did to her family. Xiao Feng then asks Li Cheng Yin if he remembers his promise to grant her two wishes.  He replies and says he does. Xiao Feng then tells Li Cheng Yin to not harm the Western Province and to live well. With that, she kills herself.

Image result for goodbye my princess suicide

Xiao Feng’s brother takes her body away (so its unclear whether she died, although I am pretty sure she did). The next scene is of an elderly Li Cheng Yin talking to the loyal General Pei about Xiao Feng and how he intends to meet her in the Western Province.

It is worthwhile to note that Li Cheng Yin becomes Emperor soon after Xiao Feng leaves following his father suffering a stroke after Ming Yue kills herself.

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Epilogue 🌟

The ending was quite unsatisfactory for a lot of people which has resulted in YouKu producing an epilogue. The Epilogue is comprised of four short clips on YouTube and Youku. It does not resurrect anyone from the dead but reunites reincarnations of Xiao Feng and Li Cheng Yin (now a married couple in the 21st century).

In the first clip, Xiao Feng wakes up from a nightmare where Li Cheng Yin lets fall into an abyss. Li Cheng Yin assures her that in this life he will never leave her. He then promises her that when the tea season is done (he is really a tea merchant in this life!) they will go to the grassland and he will catch 100 fireflies for her. This clip was by far my favourite of the four, they could have stopped at this clip and I would been fine.

The following three clips are of Xiao Feng and Li Cheng Yin living a very normal life in the Chinese countryside – very normal. This is in stark contrast with the previous life of palace politics and bloodshed. The best bits about these clips are of Li Cheng Yin calling Xiao Feng, ‘xifur’/’wife’.

Although this is not the alternative ending that was initially hinted at, I was actually more satisfied with this type of ending. As pointed out to me, a story should only build up to one ending (making it a coherent story). Having the tragic ending we have that coherent story. Having them reincarnated makes me happy…

 

What did you think of Goodbye My Princess?

21 Comments

  1. Nope…I can’t watch this drama. I don’t think I can handle all the tears. I saw this coming out and it looked really well-done, but I’m so sick of tragic dramas I’ll have to skip it for now. But your review is so perfect and thorough, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Goodbye, My Princess was just too long for a simple plot and subplot. I was able to finish until Episode 15. I had to stop watching it because I was getting bored.
      The Korean series, Empress Ki which was even longer was the best.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t watched My Princess yet, but I definitely agree with Empress Ki. I think it’s about 50 episodes, and yet it never got dull to me (and I watched it as it was coming out, so I had to wait a week for two episodes). An amazing drama!

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  2. Hello, I recently watched Goodbye Princess for the first time last week and since I don’t read understand Mandarin very well, I found some scenes confusing, particularly episode 24. Do you know why Li Chin Ye was so adamant about marrying Sese, even though he was clearly in love with Xiao Feng? Is it confusion about his feelings for both of them or another political tactic to protect Xiao Feng? I think the second anwer would make more sense, because after Xiao Feng, rejects him on their wedding night, he passes out in Sese’s room, but he isn’t interested in her at all. Sorry for the long question, I’m a bit obsessed with this love story. Thank you for your review of the drama, or I wouldn’t know what is happening. Your writing is very straight to the point and easy to follow along ❤

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    1. I think it’s a ploy to cover up the fact that he cares for Xiaofeng and to make the Empress and Gao family think he just cares about love and not about ruling.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. He was using Sese as a decoy so that all potential danger to XF goes to Sese instead. Actually Sese suffers a similar fate to XF ie being used by LCY (who she deeply loves) for his own objectives. I think that’s why XF felt really sorry for Sese after LCY told her he was just using her from the beginning until the end, and that he only loves XF.

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  3. **** SPOILER ALERT **********

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that I’m order to seek justice to a betrayal that happened 20 years ago Li Cheng Yin betrayed the trust of the woman he supposedly loves? I mean yeah war was inevitable but it would have been more honorable and forgiving had he not backstabbed Xiaofeng. I mean how did he expect her to forgive him when he wasn’t gonna let the Gao family or Empress go for their betrayal? He is too much of his father’s son. So as much as I hate to admit it, he deserved what he got. To spend a lifetime full of regret and loneliness. Also in order to protect her he had to hurt her?!? That was just wrong. How can she believe his sincerity when one minute he’s arguing with her or putting her down and the next he’s teasing her? He could have just ignored her instead of publicly slandering her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually it was obvious LCY was traumatised and conflicted after beheading the Khan and XF witnessing it. He felt as distressed as XF and even tried to push the sword to his heart when she tried to kill him. Chai Mu came and saved him from suicide. Later, LCY was still distressed when Chai Mu was bandaging him. Chai Mu had to give him a pep talk and told him to focus on his revenge. I guess he’s still a kid back then. But in the later years, he himself chose to pursue the vengence plan until the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the true hidden villain of this show is Sir Chai, Gu Jian’s godfather.
    He’s the one who pushes Gu Jian to betray Xiao Sheng, and is the major influence who turns the prince from happy guy to schemer, guiding Li Cheng Yin’s path to Crown Prince while feeding him stories about his birth mother’s death and all the Goa atrocities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t understand the storyline about Chai Mu. Was he avenging the Gu family or protecting the emperor? I didn’t quite understand. But I do agree. He’s the worst. He didn’t care about destroying lives around him in pursuit of vengence but when his daughter became involved, he wanted to take her away WTH!! I seemed to me he created a monster out of LCY but eventually LCY uses him instead. Also, what is confusing to me was the Emperor getting a stroke- was it manipulated by LCY?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My pet beef is the fact that those who knew their history choose to remain silent. At first, I get it. They want to give the couple a second chance. But after a series of misunderstandings that would eventually lead to tragedy, someone should have spoken up!

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  6. I just want to say, I cried for this drama a lot however the amount of joy and happiness it gives me is no less. This drama is honestly the best I’ve seen. Everything is so beautiful. It is full of adversities yet so heartwarming and funny at times. The relationships people have with each other is so deep and touching. I hated the villain in the beginning but in the end still sort of liked him because the display of trust, affection and love between relationships that’s not just romance and intimacy between people was truly wonderful. I think what made this drama so wonderful was actually the tragedies, people who refuse to watch it, please heed my advice and watch it because this show is worth every ounce of interest. I’m currently on episode 20, surprisingly the show is actually so addicting. I saw many clips on douyin (chinese tiktok) and it made me want to watch it but reluctant to start because all I saw was the betrayal and pain and sort of knew I wasn’t going to be able to handle it. However when I started the show, it turned out to be very different. It was even funny, adorable and very endearing. Maybe the show was boring in some political scenes but they seemed extremely interesting because watching them talk about war, country and power intrigues me. Also I want to say angelababy’s (haven’t watched anything else she starred in other than general and I and omg that acting was a bit weird but anyways…) acting skills were so bland, Peng Xiao Ran’s acting skills in this film is wayyyyy better. Maybe to some people her acting skills were mediocre but to me, her portrayal as a princess was wonderful. Her character is playful and immature because she grew up with people protecting and doting on her which made her naive and innocent. Then when she cries/mourns her pain is expressed so thoroughly it’s heartwrenching. Also 27 yr old acting a 16 yr old entitled baby princess is quite entertaining. I have yet to become her fan but her acting skills really made me notice her and acknowledge her as an actress. Also the male lead (Chen Xing Xu) is sooooo HOT I swear his character is shit but the character so deserved his looks to have such a pretty lady fall in love w him TWICE. Anyhow’s now I want to know, did he ever really love her to have done those horrible things to her? (also did anyone finish this big as paragraph? XD)

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    1. hi i’ve just finished the drama recently and am still recovering from it by watching summary videos on youtube/reading forums & reviews like these LOL. to address your question at the end on whether he really loved her or not, i think he did truly love her both times (before and after the memory loss). the cruelty that he showed her after their marriage; although extremely upsetting and also was it really necessary?? maybe not to that extent but i digress, was a cover to protect her from those plotting against him in the eastern palace (the empress, gao dude and whoever else). to display his love for her outright would make her his obvious weakness and thus the target of wrath from those trying to bring him down.

      not sure if you’ve finished the show but SPOILER for like ep 48 ish (i forgot the exact ep) if you haven’t, but the scene where he came back happily hugging her after all the political hoohah was over and those against him were all brought down, telling her he actually loved her all along, really broke me. at that point she had already regained her memories and what he said didn’t really matter to her anymore, but it was a tragic scene where he exposed his heart to her after all that he’ve been through only to have her push him away for the things he did, the things that he does not remember.

      throughout the drama i was hoping that he would be the one to regain his memories first, and i really wanted to see how he would react to it/how he would treat xiaofeng if he had known what happened in the past, though i really liked the way the regaining of memories was executed too. truly a heartbreaking drama! HAHHAHA and sorz somehow mine became a long ass comment as well. thank you dramapearls for the wonderful recap!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a really good show. Very good acting from the cast especially the main leads. Their chemistry was good even though I thought it could have been more heated but I guess that had to do with the characters not the actors; Li Cheng Yin was meant to be calculative and somewhat cold even though he intensely loved Xiao Feng. Peng Xiao Ran shined as Xiao Feng. She was playful, sincere and lovable. Again, very good acting from both of them. Overall , this show did not disappoint.

    Having seen shows based on your ratings, I really think people should start paying you, dramapearls, to do reviews on their movies because you do not lie! The ratings you give are always spot on.
    I started watching Goodbye My Princess because of your 4/5 rating and let me just say your rating did not lie. If you give a show 5/5, I know it truly deserved it, cue in Eternal Love; my favorite c-drama of all time 🙂

    Also, you do an EXCELLENT JOB breaking the shows into arcs which helps the viewer to skip unnecessary scenes. You definitely had me in mind on these arcs because I get bored with scenes that are drawn out…ni xin ku le.

    Looking forward to more reviews from you soon

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  8. Excellent summary! I wanted to add that I noticed the ending scene connected with the beginning, and it seems LCY (as an old man) found the river of forgetfulness after all. I think the narration was done by Pei Chao at the beginning. So LCY did go back to the western plains and found that river, which kind of ties the ending together for me! I didn’t read the book, so can’t comment on how it compares. I watched the 55 episode version, and your summary helped alleviate some of the suspense :).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kinda late to the game but does anyone know how General Pei and MiLuo met each other? In what episode was their first scene/introduction? The only scene I found was towards the beginning of episode 5 – ChengYin and General Pei taking a stroll when runs towards him for a hug lol. I’m curious as to how did they meet prior to that. Ty!

    Like

  10. Great review! I am looking a review that describes what are going on summarily and yours are not disappointing. However, didn’t Adu save Xiao Feng’s fall from the wall and later died in Western Province? Because in the review, you wrote after Adu’s death, Xia Feng fall from the wall

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    1. Thank you for reading and engaging with my post! Yes, you are absolutely correct – I might have expressed it incorrectly but that’s what I hoped to have captured when I said A’du died breaking Xiao Feng’s fall ❤

      Like

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