One notes an interesting quirk in Kusuriya no Hitorigoto. To wit, many if not most of these cases never really get resolved. Maomao solves them – though usually only to the “probably” point. But often we never get a firm resolution, and almost always there’s no consequence for the culprit. The entire series has a pretty flexible moral compass, which the protagonist personifies. Maomao seems to feel no strong impulse to “do the right thing”, or see those who commit crimes be punished. In point of fact she admits in this episode that she doesn’t want to be directly responsible for getting anyone punished (and probably executed) – though this week she’s happy to indirectly indict someone and put the responsibility on Jinshi’s shoulders.
That’s not to say all that makes me like Maomao less, because if anything I think it makes her a more interesting character. But it does seem like she’s more interested in the challenge of solving a mystery than the personal circumstances behind it. There are two cases this week, and both fit that bill. First we have the death of the aging soldier Lord Koumen, who dies after drinking excessively at a party. A man in his fifties who’s known to be a heavy drinker dying from that habit certainly doesn’t seem mysterious in itself, but Jinshi feels there’s more to this (and he’s right).
Through this case we learn that Maomao is very fond indeed of alcohol, which gives Jinshi a rare bit of leverage against her. The striking component of the mystery is that the booze was heavily laced with salt, which Koumen had lost the ability to taste. We literally get no resolution to this one – Maomao suggests at what sort of person might be responsible, but she leaves it to Jinshi to connect the dots offscreen. It’s also notable that Maomao is given pause by realizing Jinshi is obviously quite distraught at Koumen’s death – for her this academic exercise concerned the death of a real person, and one who was deeply respected by someone close to her.
Next up a servant is found dead in the moat, and because she was dressed like a Rear Palace attendant Maomao and the quack doctor are called in. He’s terrified of corpses, she’s not – but Oyaji had admonished her never to touch them for fear she would become addicted to the idea of using them as ingredients. Through clues like the woman’s bound feet (an ugly subject, should the series choose to pursue it more deeply) and bloodied hands, Maomao concludes that the woman could not have climbed the wall to jump in as a suicide, and likely tried to climb out of the moat.
Again we get no firm resolution here, though Maomao makes it pretty clear this was not a simple suicide. Maomao reflects on the fragile nature of a commoner’s life, and tells Jinshi she’d like to be poisoned if he ever has to order her execution. She’s right of course – his denials are meaningless, because if she made a significant mistake in the line of duty her life would hang by a thread. And oh by the way, that matter of the secret messages and attempted poisoning of Lishu is still unresolved too, though Gajun has finally brought Jinshu evidence that casts suspicion. And it falls on Ah-Duo, the Pure Consort, last seen in Episode 6 where her poor relations with Lishu took center stage.