“The time remaining is two seconds. Qi XiaoYun has the ball. He passed it to DongFang Xiang. There is a good chance for DongFang Xiang to shoot and score… But he didn’t cut through… He passed the ball to YuanDa Ying! DaYing has the ball, but he stood there… There is two more seconds… Look! YuanDaYing passed the ball straight ahead of him… Xi XiaoYun shot out from the side — he grabbed the ball — slam dunk!” *BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP* 83:84
There is the sound of cheering, screaming, moaning, booing, and Can’s voice, “Your friends, not bad.” Xiang turns stiffly to look at Can, then walks away, none of the exuberance of victory with him any longer. JieEr, watching from the audiences, shoots a concerned look at Xiang.
This is what you owe me. Can’s voice echoes in Xiang’s ear, sinking him deep into the past. Yet, being part of the soul and heart of PiLi, his peculiarity cannot be missed. “Are you alright?” DaYing slaps Xiang’s back and casually inquires, “You don’t act like you are okay today… Don’t tell me you’re worried about that lame guy.” Getting no response, DaYing chuckles, “Don’t you worry. I promise you you’ll win.” Still getting no response, DaYing turns impatiently to Xiang and adds, “If you’ve got something you wanna say, I’m here.” Xiang nods. DaYing skips away like a carefree child, ready to celebrate.
W sets out to look for the principle and collapses from another asthma attack. “My condition is worse than I anticipated…” W worries. (Watch, this is going to come back and bite them in the leg later on.)
The jolly atmosphere of the celebration did little to lift Xiang’s mood. (Why am I describing Xiang like he’s some attention-craving “depressed” teenager?) While Xiang emits pure gloom, JieEr transmits an whole other complicated emotional entity. She has to split her mind five ways — to check Xiang’s emotional state from time to time, trying to appear inconspicuous with the attention she’s showering Xiang, fitting into the merriment of the crowd, answering her friend the president of student association’s relationship questions regarding DaYing, and prevent her friend, ZiXuan, from confessing to DaYing. She does all these, especially the last, with the utmost excellency. “Well, anyone can tell you like DaYing… So even if you don’t confess to him, he probably knows.” JieEr tells ZiXuan. “Really? Am I that obvious?” pleased, ZiXuan grabs a cup of beer and makes way to DaYing.
The rest of the team, oblivious of the love entanglements DaYing, JieEr, Xiang, and W are in, take great pleasure in making fun of DaYing. Embarrassed, DaYing digs out a few bills to pay back the money he “borrowed” from ZiXuan last time. (Yuan DaYing knows how to be embarrassed? That’s new.) The crowd whispers among themselves. DaYing’s head drops lower. “DaYing, I want to dine out, go to the movies, take cue pictures, and look at the night sceneries with you! Is that ok?” If her previous “confession” wasn’t obvious enough, this one is as clear as the broad daylight. The crowd “ohh”s, DaYing looks helplessly at JieEr, who in turn looks down to avoid the eye contact. “JieEr, what do you think we should do to thank the cheerleaders?” DaYing pleas help from JieEr. “What?” JieEr is genuinely surprised at the sudden mention of her name, but fortunately for her friendship, the oddity of DaYing’s sudden allusion to her doesn’t seem to register or bother ZiXuan. “Hey! I’m the leader of your fan base, you should thank me! JieEr… she is.. she is cheering for DongFang Xiang.” At the mention of the name, both JieEr and DongFang Xiang look up. 😀 Xiang smiles. JieEr adverts her eyes to hide her smile and mutters, “I…” 😀 W comes to the rescue, she cuts in, “DaYing, why don’t you drink with ZiXuan?”
DaYing does to get off the hook. ZiXuan drinks the whole cup and hiccups, “I drank the whole thing! Now, if I get drunk, you have to take me home!” Facing ZiXuan’s straight forwardness, DaYing’s approach is to be even more straight forward. He hands her his own empty cup and says, with utmost sincerity, “Can you spit out what you just drank? Because I don’t want to take you home… I need to go to the restroom, if you would excuse me…”
Once DaYing left, the interlude is over as well. Xiang’s thoughts wander back to the childhood accident and Can’s resentment. JieEr also resumes her surreptitious peaking at Xiang over the table.
At the end of the night, ZiXuan offers DaYing to take her home again, who insists that he does not want to accept the offer. Disregarding ZiXuan’s disappointment, DaYing turns immediately to JieEr and warmly asks if she wants him to take her home. (Is he insensitive or is he plain stupid?) Facing DaYing’s oblivious act that may spread the seed of jealousy, JieEr declines and adds that she and Xiang live next door to each other, he can take her home. Xiang looks up in mild astonishment, as if waking up from a trance and looks at JieEr, then DaYing. DaYing smiles and pats Xiang’s shoulder, “Alright, then I’ll leave you to take JieEr safely home. I owe you buddy.” (Hon, you don’t owe him anything, she wants Xiang to take her home so she can comfort him.) “Then, will you take me home now?” ZiXuan tests her luck. The answer, unfortunately, is still no. W interjects to assuage the stalemate, “I have a car, why don’t I take DaYing home? (Oh and by the way,) ZiXuan, isn’t your house on the way? Want me to give you a ride as well?” ZiXuan thanks W for her good intention and persists to go home by her own means. While this exchange takes place, Xiang takes JieEr home. DaYing follows JieEr with his eyes as she disappears out of the door. None of it is missed by ZiXuan. (Luckily, she isn’t the jealous type.)
ZiXuan grabs her bag to leave, then thinking of something, she turns back and yells, “DaYing, I will wait for the day when you want to take me home.” DaYing returns a polite smile, and ZiXuan is out of the door. “This one isn’t too bad.” W teases. DaYing looks down miserably, perseverating on the fact that JieEr had wanted Xiang to take her home, not him. (Someone hand DaYing a pacifier so he can stop sulking!)
“The one that cast a a formidable shadow in your heart, is it Can?” Leaning against the car, sharing the early winter night’s cool breeze and Xiang’s guilt, fear, and dread, JieEr finally brings up the pressing topic of Can. “You still remember him?” after a day of suppression, Xiang begins to unfold the layer upon layers of solemness. “Vaguely. I remember you used to play basketball with him and he would never let you gain the upper hand.” JieEr recalls. Xiang nods, “When we were little, grandpa (the infamous grandpa) put in a lot of effort to trained me. I don’t know how and where, but he found this dark and skinny kid to play with me. He wasn’t called Can then.
When Xiang was younger, he and Ah Fu were trained together by his grandpa, who was surely a passionate preacher and devout follower of corporal punishment. The grandpa would hit the kids with a cane whenever they fail to live up to Expectation. (No wonder Xiang didn’t enjoy playing up till now.) Play time being taken away to practice dribbling is commonplace; guilt tripping Xiang into practicing harder by spanking Ah Fu is customary; reproaching, shaming, and scolding are no surprises. In return, Xiang grew more and more defiant towards his grandpa’s sternness.
One day, after being chided by grandpa, Xiang resolutely decided to defy grandpa’s command of staying in all afternoon to practice. He dared Ah Fu to go to a well by the bridge, wanting to explore the rumored underground palace. Off they went.
They found the well and went in it. After the thrill of the adventure died off, they took the rope to climb out. Being the master and the more daring of the two, Xiang came out first. Unfortunately for Ah Fu, the rope that has been subjected to much tear and ware, decided to snap when Ah Fu was still climbing out. Giving in to the laws of gravity, he fell and broke his leg. (Oh the graphic looks so, so, so fake.)
Xiang ran back home for help but was caught by his grandpa who then grounded him from going anywhere. The rest is self explanatory, the delay and Ah Fu’s numerous attempts to climb out of the well after the initial injury had caused him the chance to cure the leg and the night spent alone in the dark chilling well had taught Can an important life lesson that was to shape the rest of his adulthood.
When Can finally made back home alive, he told Xiang, with scorching malice that, “This is what you owe me.” And he disappeared after that.
“I thought he couldn’t play anymore… But he not only continued to play, he became stronger than ever.” Xiang remarks. “Do you think… he, hates you?” JieEr asks carefully. “I guess so. Even long after Ah Fu left my house, I still have continual nightmares about the tragedy — of him, dragging that broken leg, crawling and crawling endlessly…
“Then one day I met him again on the streets. He’s no longer the Ah Fu I once knew. He became Can.”
“I don’t understand.. Did you lose because you weren’t as good as him?” JieEr probes. “I, don’t know. All I know is that, whenever I face him, a helplessness takes over me.” Xiang admits. Then suddenly, he smiles and says, “I didn’t think I would ever tell anyone of this past. Thank you.”
DongFang Xiang, what can I do to help you? JieEr wonders, hesitates, then puts her hand on his. He is taken by surprise, then he looks up and meets her eye. She smiles back with the best encouraging smile she could muster. He looks away, still disoriented by her gesture of affection, (I would like to think it’s affection, not kindness, not friendliness.) Then a slow smile finds its way on Xiang’s face. He removes his large hand from under hers, and..
Without looking at her, he holds her hand and their hands fall down between them. She lets him take command of her, then, when they are holding hands at last, a small smile of content betrayed her well concealed feelings.
Before you think I’m obsessed with hands, let’s turn the focus around and look at Yuan DaYing.
The only thing in the world that can distract DaYing enough to pull him out of his mouth-pouting, head-lolling mood would be his memory of grandma Tie Lan. Then he remembers that neither the principle nor W had explained to him his grandma’s past. He runs out to ask, hence putting an end to one of the rare father-daughter wine-sipping bonding time. Facing the onslaught of questions, the principle mimics what a drunkard would do and makes way to the staircase while slurring that he is drunk and must go to bed to avoid answering. DaYing turns to W expectantly. She narrows her eyes and covers her mouth with a hand, pretending to be yawning. Then, without giving DaYing to chance to speak, she excuses herself and goes up to bed. With a head full of questions, DaYing climbs into bed and drifts to dreamland (it’s always the same harbor setting) where a younger version of his grandma advises him to grab onto love before it slips him by.
DaYing wakes up, energized and enlightened. A decision has been reached. (How does he know his grandma didn’t mean ZiXuan?) He goes to find JieEr. He meets her, but they are met by ZiXuan. 😀 ZiXuan is über excited to see DaYing. When JieEr suggested that she (ZiXuan) and DaYing should go to the movies together without her, ZiXuan jumps up cheering while DaYing screws his face frowning. To keep everybody together, ZiXuan suggests that perhaps JieEr can invite Xiang to come along. Thinking that if Xiang comes, it would turn into a true double date, DaYing rejects the offer all together and jogs to join Xiang — who happens to walk by — for a prearranged basketball practice session. Which, is of course, arranged and decided unilaterally just a second ago.
JieEr and ZiXuan walk together, heading for the theatre. While ZiXuan blabbers on about watching Enchanted, JieEr remembers something and runs back.
On the other hand, DaYing reveals his wish to fight for the right to chase JieEr. (I always find these types of power-struggle utterly asinine. As if it accomplishes anything. After all once the lady choses the loser, the result of the match/competition/challenge becomes meaningless.) Xiang shakes his head and reminds DaYing that he doesn’t lose. Clap, clap, clap. “Nice.” Can interjects, “then I shall play you.” “I won’t play you.” Xiang answers. “Then I will!” DaYing joins.
The word is just out, yet it already attracted the attention of a group of fans, Qiu Kui, and WuJi Zun. (The WuJi brothers have masted the art of spying so effortlessly that they knows exactly when and where a basketball moment would takes place, even if the duel has only been decided minutes ago. Would do you call it? Foresight?)
Duel starts. Can jumps up, thrusts his braced leg into DaYing’s chest, causing the latter to fall, and dumps the ball into the hoop with a ferocity that can shatter earth. Before Can can hurt DaYing anymore, Qiu Kui dashes in, swiftly steals the ball from under Can’s palm, and deftly pushes the it into the hoop. Xiang gestures to thank QiuKui and leads DaYing out. Can stands there motionless. Qiu Kui dribbles, and with incredible speed, scores again. Can turns, a wicked smile across his lips, “Qiu Kui, you are the same as before. Always so protective of DongFang Xiang. I will play you. But not today. Tell DongFang Xiang, I will follow him like a ghost. The only way to get rid of me, is to play me and win.” Then with another twitch of the mouth, Can is gone.
Despite all signs of rebellious inclination exhibited by Xiang towards his father, when his grandpa calls, Xiang succumbs to the old man’s brutal dominance. He returns home and puts on the special gear to oblige his grandpa. (The pseudo-high-tech portion of this scene is so ridiculous, it deserves heavy ridicule — and the music totally multiplies the absurdity.)
Now that the devil is back, things get much, much more complicated. The domineering old man chastised Xiang for transferring to PiLi. However, when he hears that Li Tian’s granddaughter, W is the team’s coach, his attention perks up. After watching a video recording of Pi Li’s past games, he take a particular interest in Yuan DaYing. No one knows what the old man is thinking, yet every gesture emits the aura of complication.
Complication doesn’t stop here. W’s condition exacerbates. Yet she persists on holding off the check up until after the basketball season. PiLi’s next opponent is XuanWu, the school Xiang came from. To top it off, George, W’s ex, the coach of the first team PiLi played against, has transferred to XuanWu to become their co-coach. Just a few tidbits for you, George and XuanWu’s coach, the one who keeled before Xiang in the first episode are brothers. George and his brother’s names are two variations that both mean: the characteristic of being vengeful. (I’m sure the coach didn’t forget the humiliation of kneeling before Xiang, nor George of the fact that he was dumped by W.) They both vow to take PiLi down, to hell if they must.
The final piece of complication is completed when Can volunteers to join XuanWu’s basketball team.
Now let’s sit back and wait for the befalling mayhem.
So I was wrong about DaYing passing the ball back to Xiang. Of course, what was I thinking? If DaYing isn’t unobservant and obtuse, he wouldn’t be Yuan DaYing. On the other hand, Qi XiaoYun’s glorious slam dunk marks another stage of flawless team work. However, Qi XiaoYun is the next most revered player on the team after Xiang and Daying, so if the writers really want to shine the spotlight on the other players for a change or show that PiLi has improved its overall performance, giving the relatively “weaker” players a chance of splendor may do the trick — otherwise, it’s still a three-man’s game.
This is the longest recap I’ve written for Hot Shot, although no where near the record set by one of the FTLY recaps. And I feel so girly recapping this episode. You know, the hands. 😉
Anyway, I’m gonna get some rest now. Enjoy reading everyone!