The following contains spoilers for Episode 9 of Raven of the Inner Palace, "Water's Voice", now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Shouxue will face difficulties in Raven of the Inner Palace. As a court drama set in a fictional setting based on historical China, this series has a sinister tone that is bolstered by plenty of mystery and intrigue. Shouxue, on the other hand, has yet to face a serious threat to her life. Instead, the anime has thus far focused on her role as the Raven Consort through various ghostly cases involving social tension while revealing the Raven Consort's history and the tension between this mysterious figure and the presiding Emperor.
Under the new moon, as the goddess Niao Lian departs from Shouxue's body, she writhes in agony and sees a vision of a troubling figure. A man called Owl appears to be scheming against Shouxue from the shadows. Even though he doesn't have much screen time in this episode 9 of the series, it is clear that he has amazing powers and deadly plans for Shouxue that will endanger not only her life but also the kingdom as a whole.
Owl Expresses His Plan to Kill the Raven Consort
As Shouxue's traumatic experience at the start of Episode 9 fades, Shouxue sees a man in a vision. She immediately calls him Owl, but she has no idea who he is. Owl communicates with his master about his desire to visit the inner palace. When questioned about his intentions, he states that he must do something. After his master agrees to help him, Owl explains his full reasoning: he must kill the Raven Consort.
While Owl does not appear again until the post-credits scene, his appearance has a significant impact on the final arc of Raven of the Inner Palace. In the coming episodes, he will most likely enter the palace with the assistance of his master and begin his plan to assassinate Shouxue. His motivations, however, are unknown. He describes his plan to murder the Raven Consort as something he must do, implying that fate may play a role. Because the Raven Consort is linked to the throne's stability, it's possible that the Owl is aware of the consequences of the Raven Consort's death.
Owl Shows Off His Capabilities By Resurrecting the Dead
Owl makes his second and final appearance in Episode 9 after the credits roll. While this scene is easily overlooked and may go unnoticed by many viewers, it is critical in establishing Owl as a serious threat to Shouxue. In this scene, a distraught woman approaches Owl, and he offers to assist her. Predicting that the woman has recently lost a loved one, he offers to bring him back from the dead, claiming that such a feat isn't so difficult. However, even Shouxue has stated that she cannot raise the dead. If Owl truly has the ability to resurrect the dead, his abilities may surpass Shouxue's, making him a highly formidable antagonist.
Those who pay close attention will notice that Owl has most likely already demonstrated his abilities. Throughout Episode 9, Shouxue attends to a woman who claims to hear the voice of the deceased consort she once served. As Shouxue unravels the story, she realizes the woman is a ghost herself and binds her to the lake, providing relief without having to destroy the spirit. However, she later discovers that her barrier has been breached and realizes that the perpetrator must have been Owl. Viewers might assume he breaks the barrier to free the spirit, but a blurry image of a woman standing on the shore of the lake, combined with the revelation of Owl's powers, suggests Owl has brought the woman back to life.
With a new threat looming overhead and only a few episodes remaining, the stakes are higher than ever in Raven of the Inner Palace. While the series' overarching tension has been built through subtle details thus far, Owl's introduction will almost certainly propel the series toward a grand climax that will keep fans captivated.