Fighter of the Destiny (择天记) has two of the best gray people. They are not the firmly-on-the-dark-side, bad guys. They are, however, good people who make bad choices.
I think the best drama villain is the one who does terrible things for the right reason. Sheng Hou massacred an entire academic branch, executed most of her husband’s family, ritually slaughtered thousands of prisoners, not to mention she sacrificed her only child in order to preserve the stability of the kingdom. In her mind, a ruler has to get her hands dirty to do what’s best for her people. The blood on her hands is a testimony to her resolve. This woman has never lied to herself. So it is especially satisfying to see her redemption after she has (almost) descended into madness.
Her exact opposite is Qiu Shan Jun. He is a good person who is always trying to do good. The one time that he act selfish and petty, he got suckered into the bad guy camp. Because he couldn’t reconcile what he wanted to be and what he actually was doing, so he lied to others, and worse of all, he lied to himself. His lies quickly snowballed into an avalanche that buried his conscience.
When she was the queen, she was merciless, if not cruel. She assigned Qiu Shan Jun to guard the comatose Changsheng, knowing full well there was a deep-seated grudge between them. She explained to Jiao Zong that the best way to know if a man was truly unconscious was to dangle a knife over his head.
As expected, Qiu Shan Jun attempted to kill Changsheng. What she didn’t expect was Yourong coming to the rescue and smuggling Changsheng out of prison. Yourong’s open defiance got her blood boiling and the two phoenixes had a showdown. Naturally, Yourong lost by a huge margin.
But, Yourong had a get-out-of-jail card that she didn’t know she had. The glowing vial of blood told Sheng Hou that the young man she imprisoned was her biological son. The same infant son that she had to sacrifice in order to save the kingdom from demon invasion so many years ago. He had returned to her at last. And she was doing everything she could to kill him. Oh, what have she done?
She finally accepted that she was blinded by her obsession to keep the weapon functional that she failed to see that her country was falling apart at the seams. So for once, since taking the throne, she let go of her obsession and spent some quality time with her son.
Her heart had gone soft for Changsheng. And her advisor-turned-enemy used it against her. Jiao Zong gloated that Changsheng was but a vessel he created out of her son’s blood. She fell for his trap and foolishly wasted her power to extend his life.