The conversation the MC, Ling Xiao, has with the emperor's uncle basically sums up the ML's actions. He's the emperor and he's giving up a lot of power and control by compromising with Ling Xiao and it's pretty freaking unbelievable that the emperor would be willing to go so far for him. And Ling Xiao internalizes very deeply which is why his actions are so inconsistent. LX is confident, but he knows he's not invincible. In a setting like the one he's in, the emperor has pretty much absolute power, but not completely. For both the MC and ML the risks are a lot higher if there's someone who's determined to bring them down...
Concerning the part where the ML strangles the MC, I think a lot of people misunderstand it tbh. The ML said that his bottom line was for the MC to remember that he's his man which is what he got mad over. The interaction between the MC and the concubine seems pretty innocent to us because we know the MC didn't mean anything about it, but consider how it would look if was from the outside. Seriously. Even through my eyes as a reader it felt really freaking flirty and that violated the ML's bottom line. I'm not saying it's a good thing the ML used violence towards the MC, but it was a reaction, not an intent and that isn't what I would call abuse. Again, it's not a good thing that he used violence, but it's not something that makes him a bad partner. The fact that he stopped even when he though his bottom line was violated really says something. That he's trying to understand, that he really wants to be with the MC. And the MC probably knew that.
If anyone thinks the MC's reaction to the strangling was strange, I say consider the facts a bit. The MC has always been absolutely terrified of the ML and when his worst nightmare became reality and didn't end in his death? That was probably a lot more reassuring than words could be.
Going back to the MC's actions, when you consider his goals, they really do make sense. The MC was with Mo Qi, the FL, for over 10 years, working in the shadows for her every whim. And for all that work and devotion, he gets poisoned by her. If you don't think that's a reasonable explanation to hate someone, there was also the fact that he helped her despite her having someone kidnap him and cut off his genitalia without his consent.
He, especially, knows her personality and what seems to have started as simply a reluctance to interact with her formed into full on hatred and murderous intent the more he did interact with her.
The MC only started to interact with the ML to gain more power so it's not strange that the MC lied to him ever when he knew the emperor hated it in order to protect his secret...
I do admit that the MC's knowledge of modern weapons/inventions seems a bit deus ex machina esq, and it seems weird he didn't use it the first time, but if you think about it, it's understandable. It's not like he was trying to become rich or famous or need to do meritorious deeds before he died the second time. Still seems like a d.e.m. to me though considering how long it's been.
the MC kind of dug his own grave in this instance. Like, he never out right states the fact that he doesn't want to have s*x to the emperor, but it's the situation that forced him to imply that wants to have s*x with the emperor rather than his own personal wants. It's still pretty iffy because the emperor probably figured out the situation and did Ling Xiao anyways, but I can't say for sure because we never got to see the emperor's perspective. It's entirely possible that the emperor thought that Ling Xiao wanted it considering the things that led up to it.
It's a very irritating point of view that makes it hard to tell who main couple is. It seems to be third person omniscient but limited by Leo's knowledge. Because of that, I consider Leo to be the MC and Sha Qing to be the ML even though they're apparently reversible. At least for first 8 chapters. I have no idea if the writing will change.
Leo Lawrence, which is pretty obvious, and Sha Qing, which is also obvious. Less obvious is that Roy = Sha Quin = Li Biqing