Invincinble Shan Bao Mei 5: Budding Affection

In this fantasia of love, there is no sultry glances, no lavish masquerade, no consuming passion — but if you PG 13 it and squint your eyes to look closer, there is pretend indifference, repressed jealousy, and indolent discovery.

I Remember — written, composed, and sung by our beloved Shan Bao Mei — Amber Kuo

If you inch your nose even closer and scrutinize, you are bound to notice that Sun Wu Di’s food show has deteriorated, after the cupping glass scandal, into a cheap dating service — only tangentially related to haute cuisine. Let us not forget, Mr. Fanny Hill’s talent lies in bed steak, which, somewhat swiftly brings the live food show back to food — what it’s intended for in the first place.

While Wei Qing prepares tiramisu steak in silence, Shan Bao watches expectantly. (Although ‘silence is golden’ is heard in movie theaters, it’s unheard of on a live show for it lowers viewing rate. Yet, silence is golden here.)

So, this is the famous Tiramisu Steak.

Stiffly, Wei Qing brings the plate to Shan Bao, remembering to flash his teeth at the camera. “This is today’s special. Just for you.” he says. “How did you know I’ve always wanted to eat this?” Shan Bao widens her eyes. “I’m your boyfriend, I know everything that has to do with you. Will you accept?” with the same flat indifference, Wei Qing replies. (*rolls eyes*) Shan Bao nods firmly and is reduced to tears. Wei Qing wipes it away gently, then subconsciously, he cocks his head to observe Wu Di’s reaction. Let’s see how much influence she has on you. Without any warning, he bends down and presses his lips onto Shan Bao’s. (If he had kissed away the tears, or the corner of her mouth, he would certainly multiplied the effect. But since Mr. Fanny Hill is concerned only with money and revenge and seducing rich women, romantic gestures are out of his league. What a waste of a good jealousy-inducing moment.)

Wu Di’s uncle is watching the live show while making a meticulous mental calculation in his head — if Wei Qing were to replace Sun Wu Di…

Wu Di watches as Wei Qing kisses Shan Bao before his eyes. His initial reaction is anger, followed by annoyance, then a strange resistance to the PDA. He gets a hold of Shan Bao’s arm, pulling at it, trying to yank her away from Wei Qing’s deadly lips. Wei Qing presses onto Shan Bao’s other arm, pinning her to the seat, and gives Wu Di a look. But Wu Di is quicker and smoother, he flings Wei Qing away with a free arm without seeming to forceful, swings Shan Bao up in a different arm and proceeds with a grandiose ending speech — all the while, holding Shan Bao’s hand.

After the show, Wei Qing reminds Wu Di of the promise made by the invincible Caesar to let the tiramisu steak-loving Brutus, such as himself, enter Tian Xiang Lou so that old Cassius can wrap his horny tentacles around Brutus in preparation for the ides of March. The self-absorbing dictator gives no second thought to the dangers of introducing Wei Qing to his family business, and nods in acknowledgment. Taking advantage of the situation, Brutus adds sinisterly that Shan Bao is the first person to have cried eating his cuisine, perhaps, it may not be as difficult to fall in love with her after all.

Although provoked, exploited, and resented, Wu Di only watches as Wei Qing strips him naked of his inner most feelings — all because he doesn’t want to admit his feelings toward Shan Bao. Not yet at least.

Shan Bao joins the party of these unhappy man and makes herself clear that she wants to speak to Wu Di alone despite Wei Qing’s wide eyed astonishment. Once Wei Qing turns away reluctantly, Shan Bao carefully pours out her heart and wears it on her sleeve,

I am the daughter of a roast meat shop with biceps, a flat chest, and smells of meat. I grew up being laughed at — but you — when we were floating on the ocean, you didn’t abandon me; after the cupping glass incident, you cared very much about how I felt. Sun Wu Di, you are the first to go to such extraordinary lengths for the most ordinary me.

Although once I remove this set of clothes and makeup, I revert back to the same girl all the guys stay away from, you have presented the insecure me with the most valuable gift of confidence. You made me feel that maybe, I’m not that bad after all.

She steps closer and hugs Wu Di with sincere gratification.

*hugs*

I know I am small and insignificant, but if you ever need it, Guang Ji and I will always be there with our arms wide open. After today, you are not alone anymore. You have a friend and she won’t be chased away even if you try.

Shan Bao leaves Wu Di with Wei Qing; Zu An comes to Wu Di to apologize for calling him coldblooded the day before and congratulates him for bringing about the long-sought happiness for Shan Bao. (You would think a woman’s intuition would make Zu An feel something unsettling about the hastily patched up appearance, but apparently, envy also blinds people.) Wu Di muses at the idea that the tossed-together pair actually look happy to outsiders. Then he takes Zu An’s hand in his and regretfully announces that unfortunately, he is unable to bring the same kind of happiness to his own girlfriend. (Ex my dear, ex-girlfriend.)

Then, looking at her in the eye, he asks, “Are we really over? Is there no second chance?” Zu An pulls her hand away from his, pronouncing the silent proclamation of Over. He gets it and doesn’t press her. “If Us is the past, then let it stay it in the past.” Wu Di suggests and turns around. Zu An opens her mouth to say something, but Wu Di’s has already turned his back on her. (In the literal sense.) Swinging around gracefully, Wu Di extends out a hand, “Hi, my name is Sun Wu Di. And you?” he raises his eyebrows to urge her to play along. To start over. Zu An gives in at last and shakes hand with him. (I have to admit, it’s quite skilfully done.)

Shan Bao and Wei Qing walk out of the door together, Wei Qing slightly ahead of Shan Bao and not waiting for her to catch up at all. Then abruptly, as if the invisible curtain is finally drawn, he lets go of her hand. Perplexed, Shan Bao says nothing. They have reached Wei Qing’s parked motorcycle, he takes out the water bottle he had asked Shan Bao to buy for him earlier and pours it over his motorcycle seat in contempt of her whole hearted eagerness to provide him warmth. She is hurt and mutters that she had went through the trouble to buy the water especially for him. And here is the reason I despise this guy and make no attempt to conceal my bias: he may be annoyed by Shan Bao’s constantly hanging around him, but he doesn’t have the balls to tell her the truth in her face. Courtesy or not, he stretches a preposterous explanation to suffice Shan Bao in a way someone would do to dismiss an ignorant child. He tells her, as stiff as ever, “Water this cold? It’s perfect for cooling [the seat].” Why even bother to explain?

Wei Qing sits down and puts on the helmet. Then impatiently, he asks, “Are you coming or not?” “Oh. Right. But. Where is my helmet?” Shan bao wonders. “I only have one. Do I have to give mine to you?” the same curt voice retorts. “Oh no no no no no. Your safety is more important than mine.” Shan Bao hastily replies. He ignores her and drives forward without warning.

*ouch*

Shan Bao falls, butt first. Finally the tiniest ray of regret mingled with helplessness shines through the mist of jumbled irritation, aloofness, and rudeness, Wei Qing turns and tells Shan Bao, “I don’t have the money to pay for the ticket if a police catches you without a helmet. Go buy one, I will meet you at the next block.”

happy couple eh?

Although unhappy, Shan Bao still runs to find a helmet. But the fuel that keeps her will power burning is the thought that Sun Wu Di had put so much effort into reuniting her and Wei Qing. She should do her very best for Sun Wu Di‘s sake. She miraculously bought a helmet and finds Wei Qing waiting.

Pedagogy is undoubtedly a pervasive aspect of life. While Shan Bao steadies herself behind Wei Qing’s back on the motorcycle, she sees another couple doing the same thing. The girl, after seating behind her boyfriend like Shan Bao had done, wraps her arms around the boyfriend’s waist. Shan Bao observes and mimes the behavior. As soon as her small arms secure around Wei Qing, he pulls her hands away, “explaining” that he doesn’t like it because it will make him drenched in sweat later on. (Then don’t wear black.)

He takes Shan Bao home and finds himself in the middle of a rowdy welcome planned, organized, and performed by Shan Bao’s family and the rest of the neighbors, singing L.O.V.E, lighting firecrackers, and offering bride cakes. Shan Bao’s family is the kind that hears thunder and expects rainbow, completely bypassing the raining process. They had seen Wei Qing kissing Shan Bao on TV, and so here is the one-sided engagement party. While everybody mindlessly follows the nonsense, Shan Bao’s big brother, the only sane one, stands out to protest. He points out the obvious: Wei Qing has never seen (the dead) Momsie and (the alive) Popsical, never called Shan Bao, (never returned her call), and wasn’t even around when the cupping glass event happened. Yet his clear-headed objection gets swallowed in the midst of the blind merriment.

Wei Qing excuses himself and leaves. Shan Bao chases out, asking when they can see each other again. He temporizes and tells her he will call to inform her. She nods and waves goodbye. When he’s gone, she pouts her lower lip and mutters to herself, “I know you won’t call me…”

Finally getting rid of Shan Bao, Wei Qing goes to the hospital to see his daughter. His makeup artist friend Kevin’s already there, dabbing a pound of concealer on the girl’s face to hide the burnt mark that can probably pass for a birthmark. In any case, Wei Qing greets his daughter with warmth and calls her princess Fiona. (The irony is, our lovely princess Fiona is an ogre. A farting, spitting, booger-picking OGRE.) Nonetheless, the adults drown the little girl with alternating, albeit repetitive compliments of “you are the prettiest princess” and “wow you are so pretty”. (What a waste of an excellent opportunity to redeem himself. The father-daughter affliction and affection just don’t carry through the poor acting.)

Since starting over entails spending time with each other, Wu Di invites Zu An and her father over for dinner. He is cooking personally. Uncle, like all amateur villains, is paranoid by the invitation and failed utterly to contain his feelings. He starts to ramble on and on and on and on about how Wu Di should refrain from pursuing the mastermind behind the recent kidnap, arguing unconvincingly and making no point at all. Wu Di refuses to give in. The uncle is equally matched in persistence. While both sides are unrelenting, a stalemate spiced up with yelling, roaring, arms throwing, (bird flicking, and cursing,) could be the only result. (Geez guys, the food’s still boiling on the stove!) As if it’s not already ugly enough, the uncle resorts to extortion and Sun Wu Di snaps. Uncle throws himself out angrily, leaving Zu An stuck in the middle, forced to choose a side.

Zu An stays, only to demand an explanation form Wu Di for treating her father the way he had a minute ago. (Food boiling! Anyone there?) Without further ado, they jump into another whirlpool of arguing and bickering that ended with a door slam and exasperation on both sides. When Zu An left the second time, things are truly over for her and Wu Di. (So is the food.)

Calming down from the recent calamity, Wu Di returns to the living room and notices Shan Bao’s graffiti on his portrait. He calls her.

Shan Bao is making San Bao rice for Wei Qing and Wu Di when he called. He tells her that “his friend” just enraged his girlfriend’s father and asks Shan Bao what “he” should do next. She puts down the chopsticks and exclaims, “So you angered your girlfriend’s father? Don’t worry. Take baby steps and try to give people a chance to understand you. I know you aren’t a bad guy. If you give people a chance to get to know you, I bet they will all feel the same way I do — kind of, like you.” Wu Di makes a face, “Like me? You better give up that thought because I have no intention to trod on sprouting shoots.” “Hey! By liking, I mean like you as a friend!” Shan Bao explains. (Umm, boy-friend.) She fiddles with the chopstick and frowns, “Know what? One of my friends has encountered a love-related problem as well.” Wu Di muses. “So it’s like this: my friend just got involved with this guy she’s had a crush on for the longest time. Except that she knows, he isn’t as into her as she is to him. Do you think that’s just the way guys are? Playing hard to get to keep the other interested? Sort of like reverse psychology?” Wu Di scratches his nose and edifies his response, “Of course not. If a guy likes a girl, he would Never want her hurt. Because..” he winces and continues after a pause, “Because you are so kind… and… sort of cute. Besides, being with you, I can put down all pretense and truly be myself. And… and not having to be ‘invincible’ all the time. (Because she is Invincible Shan Bao Mei! Ok I’m being lame. But hey, it’s getting late and I’m tired and am trying to cram this recap after an exhausting day!) So… so…” Shan Bao opens her mouth, as if urging him to go on. When he doesn’t, she finishes it for him, “You mean… you… like me?” Wu Di sighed then, “Alright, let’s get this over with. So, tell your ‘friend’, a boyfriend that’s not willing to settle down for her isn’t worth her time. She should dump him at once.” (Now we’re talkin’!)

Shan Bao doesn’t warm up to the idea of leaving Wei Qing. She finds a reason and bids Wu Di good night. Hanging off with Shan Bao, Wu Di picks up a dry cloth and starts to wipe the portrait. Of course, nothing comes off. He murmurs to himself, “When it’s unnecessary for you to be observant, you always tend to be so detail oriented; when it’s necessary for you to keep your eyes open, you never seem to notice anything. But… for someone who won’t let anyone get close, why did I let her penetrate my heart so easily? Why did I let her leave her mark?” *wipe wipe*

At Guang Ji, Chi Xin Jie happily posts up a homemade “Seven-Steps to Gain a Man’s Heart”. It starts with “intertwining gaze”, ends with “intertwining body and soul”. While everyone’s fussing over the likelihood of Shan Bao ending on step seven with Wei Qing, big bro walks in and points out again that Shan Bao and Wu Di act more like couples than she and Wei Qing will ever be. (On a completely irrelevant note, what is it that’s sticking out of Chi Xin Jie’s collar?!) At the end of the poster, there is a blank left to be filled by Shan Bao — the time unit at which steps one through seven will be completed. She promptly writes “day” under it. (Someone’s in a hurry.)

The next morning Shan Bao comes to see Wu Di, bringing him the lunch box and the Seven Steps poster while forcing him to come down and welcome Wei Qing for his first day of work with her. Wu Di has just showered, Shan Bao watches as he tries to dry his hair with one towel, wearing nothing but a long towel. The feverish symptoms described by Shan Bao’s brother the night before starts to manifest on Shan Bao little by little. Her face flushes scarlet red. She starts to hyperventilate. Her heart starts pounding wildly. And her temperature raises drastically. Code blue, code blue — she is in lllllllove. (Although lust probably initiates the same autonomic responses as well. 😉 )

♫ what is this feeling, so sudden and new? ♫

To distract herself, she hands Wu Di the lunch box. Wu Di recognizes the familiar smell of the delicious San Bao rice, yet every time he tries to take a bite, it would be interrupted by San Bao’s one hundred and one questions and remarks. Finally, he decides not to eat until he can eat in peace.

Eventually, Shan Bao manages to drag Wu Di down to celebrate Wei Qing’s first day of work. Once Shan Bao leaves, Wu Di makes a move to change the content of the contract (after a convoluted monologue) — Wei Qing is to make Shan Bao stop liking him so she can find the one she actually has a chance of happiness with. (Namely, himself.)

Eight Nation Alliance finally comes tapping at the door — after an interlude of nonsensical, drawn out, humiliating history of remarkable racism and eastern-western comparison. (I say let’s get on with the story and stop trying so hard with the historical insertions. Because they are poorly done and I’m not confident if I can bare with it any longer.) Sun Wu Di walks in to settle the little commotion and proceeds to address each of the four men “hello” in four languages. (C’on, bonjour is spelled with two O’s. I would check my spelling before I try to impress anyone. And unimpressed am I with the execution of this entire scene.) After exchanging unpleasant (and rather meaningless) pleasantries, Eight Nation Alliance throws across a brown parchment across the table — a declaration of the war they are waging.

Wu Di resists the challenge initially, who are they to tell him what he should and shouldn’t do? But the Eight National Alliance has gone too far with their insulting remarks, that a strong sense of nationalism is swelling in Shan Bao’s little proud chest. She picks up the scroll for Wu Di (little wifey is already making decisions for the weak hubbie huh?) and the challenge is on.

(Oh man, I feel like recapping a watered downed version of Gourmet) The topic is (yup!) L O V E. The time of the competition is the day after tomorrow.

First of all, sorry for the delay. Can’t be helped. I will have even less time to myself when internship starts next week. (Ironically enough, this is the longest recap I’ve written for Invincible SBM. It was so long, while I was writing it, I kept wondering when I’m ever going to finish. Life is full of contradictions. 😦 )

Onto the episode related ramblings:

I prefer the old review than the current one. Personally, I think the English brief recap at the beginning is funny with the accent and all. This one aims to achieve the deep and serious tone, but I’m sorry to announce, it just doesn’t deliver. Boo.

One thing I don’t understand: Zu An, as we know, is Wu Di’s ex-girlfriend. Her father is whom Wu Di refers to as uncle. I have no problem up to this point, until in the review at the very beginning of the episode, the words across the screen reads “what if your enemy is your only relative?”, followed by a shot of “uncle” plotting with one of his faithfull underlings. So, if this “uncle” relates to Wu Di by blood, that makes Zu An Wu Di’s cousin. If we were in the 1800’s England, marrying/dating first or second cousins are normal. But the 21st century?

5 thoughts on “Invincinble Shan Bao Mei 5: Budding Affection”

  1. Thanks so much for your work–I’m an “older” fan (over 40) and these cute shows provide me with a much needed stress release…the recaps are essential as I don’t speak Chinese. I really appreciate your time and effort.

  2. Just out of curiousity, I was wondering whether you preferred this show to Fated To Love You? ‘Cause I just finished your recaps for FTLY and have now started ISBM, and your reviews seem much more favourable here compared with FTLY. Just wondering! I like both shows. Maybe missing FTLY a little, since this show’s pretty different…

    Anyway, thanks for the recap!

    1. i enjoyed FTLY more than i did with Invincible. I liked the reader response and that certainly added to the viewing experience. Like watching something and having people to talk about it with. And my comments reflected it through what i like to call ‘poking fun’ at certain plot holes or being a buzzkiller at romantic moments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s