JieEr, I will stop pursuing you. I will love you from afar.
And by “loving [JieEr] from afar”, Yuan DaYing means… this:
… and fantasizing improbable scenarios of anonymous letters, childish rhyming love poem, hot breakfast, Autumn leaves, and fluffy snow flakes
… in class.
Who would have thought Yuan DaYing as a closeted romantic.
In any case, let’s prepare ourselves for the impending mayhem. Xuan Wu’s new coach George is W’s ex-fiancé. Having been an item in the past, he knows W’s strategies exceptionally well. It wouldn’t be hard for either of them to predict each others’ moves. So that makes the two teams equally matched — except for Can’s involvement. In Xuan Wu’s last competition, the main players of the opponent team have been consecutively wounded and replaced by back up players by the end of the first half — Can’s workings no doubt. Yet the aforementioned challenges are not new to PiLi after months of training and competing — they are simply the indications of a difficult and exhausting game. What will inflict the greatest detriment (other than Xiang’s obvious lack of confidence) is W’s deteriorating health. (She is to blame for her own condition. Aside from failing to show up at the doctors for a check up, she is STILL wearing her trademark mini skirts when even Yuan DaYing has donned heavy coats and furred hoods.) Without a coach to guide and direct, PiLi has only themselves. The stress placed upon each players then will either sink PiLi into anarchy or pull them higher the friendship ladder. (Or a combination of the two in the corresponding order of Coming of Age.)
Now that we are prepared for possible mishap, time to gorge on some comic relief. While openly expressing feeling is unaccustomed to Xiang, keeping secrets are equally difficile for DaYing. So he finds W in the midst of her worries and shares his feelings of how grandiose the act of liking someone from a distance can be. (The irony is, by the end of this episode, whatever blatant proclaimation of love DaYing intends to make towards JieEr, it’s going to be swallowed back and stay there — for real this time.) And of course, being W, she mercilessly bursts his bubble, “So is the girl you are secretly in love with the same person that the whole world knows you like? i.e. JieEr?” He nods and enjoys god-knows-what he’s enjoying. W rolls her eyes and resumes to work. DaYing hovers around her, urging her to share her secret. She gives him a look and replies, “I never said I’m going to play the Truth game with you.” DaYing doesn’t give up and asks yes-no questions about W and George. Before leaving W to be, he asks one last question, with no intention other than his characterized feel-good gestures, “So tell me, honestly, are you secretly in love with me?” How close the question touches bases with truth, Yuan DaYing may never know. Nor do we.
W reaches over and pours water into the cup as DaYing takes his emergency exit. 😀 Close call.
And comic relief indeed, because the next few things that happened can very well send your nostrils flaring, fist pounding, and curses flying. (And my fingers throbbing from typing too fast.) George calls W for dinner. Given what I’ve said before, this is not your ordinary old lovers’ get together dinner. It’s a coach to coach encounter, viciously intended intimidation strategy, which is completely reasonable and acceptable, until George starts to deviate from the repetitive assertion that his has a secret weapon under his paw to win the game and jumping into a devilishly intimate topic. That is, W’s health.
According to George, while he was in Houston, he had ran into Dr. Robinson, W’s personal physician. The doctor was ill informed of W and George’s break up and proceeds to blabber on about W’s condition — something that would not happen in actuality, considering the strict respect for confidentiality in US — but for the sake of the drama, that’s one way to indicate the severity of W’s problem. George then sinisterly insinuates that given W’s condition, it’s absolutely futile for her to bestow her dream on these five kids. There are simply other things than basketball. (Which is why George isn’t taking his own advice and give up coaching basketball right? Impeccable logic.) Aghast, W stands up and announces to the despicable man in front of her, with composed grace and elegance, “You know, I had previously felt a sense of guilt for breaking up with you. After tonight, I know for certain that the decision was in fact, the best one I’ve made.” (Oh he just got owned!)
The next morning, W’s father hands W a CD of Xian Wu’s game with their last opponent while emphasizing that he is Not doing it to help her, but to inform her, with evidence, how far apart PiLi is from Xuan Wu. His attempt to cover up his concern for the school basketball team brings a smile to W’s face. Yet, her smile soon fades when the CD is popped into the CD player. And it turns into a frown when W sees the look of helplessness on Xiang’s face upon mentioning Can. Worried about Xiang’s reluctance, W decides to place DaYing against Can during the actual competition.
DaYing protests, arguing that the arrangement sounds awfully unfair, as if it’s perfectly alright that he gets hurt and gets carried off the court from playing against Can, while Xiang is protected. To appease DaYing, W explains, “That Can is considered ‘ace killer’ by Xuan Wu, which means, he is there to fend against the key player on the opponent team. So if you were assigned to block him, then that makes you..” “The key player!” Bingo. DaYing is taken care of. 😀
Xiang interjects, pointing out that DaYing is inadequate to block Can and he will try to face Can instead before walking out. W is dubious.
Then JieEr receives a text message from Xiang, addressed to Qiu Kui. (Some anticlimactic way of revealing Qiu Kui’s identity.) Xiang meets Qiu Kui and asks her to play with him, because she is the only one that can play like Can. They do and Xiang loses. He gets up and asks Qiu Kui to continue. She firmly rejects the idea (well duh, JieEr wouldn’t want to hurt her beau before the game) and tells Xiang that his real enemy is himself and walks away. Leaving Xiang to reflect on her words sign, she turns back and looks at him with longing.
Can is playing and beating every brave man that dares to challenge and bathing in the loud cheering and the excitement of blood-spilling violence. He beats a 7th challenger and walks to the audience, “Who’s next?” The crowd fell silent immediately. (Which, I find funny.) Can repeats, “I said, next.” Deafening silence. And fear.
In the distance, Qiu Kui and a few followers approach the mob slowly. She takes on the challenge against Can in a life-or-death game, with the vain hope of taking down Can for the sake of Xiang. It may have seen sweet, except Xiang needs to grow out of this fear of his alone and JieEr needs to be stay well for Xiang. Can leans in and says, “Sometimes I wonder, what kind of relationship do you have with DongFang Xiang?” (Love relationship, obviously.)
The news of the famous Qiu Kui playing a lame weirdo quickly spread through the neighborhood, DaYing overhears and rush to watch.
(For quality action, refer to the video.)
They could be well matched and play it fair, but with Can’s weapon-enhanced leg brace, there is no way to gain upper hand. (Unless you are wolverine of course, then you can slash right back at him. 😉 )
Qiu Kui is badly cut and abused. She struggles up but collapses once again. Can approaches to finish Qiu Kui off — that’s when DaYing finally paddles his way to the park to save Qiu Kui. The police’s consequent arrival ended the duel and Qiu Kui faints knowing everything is finished for now.
Then more things happened: DaYing sees Qiu Kui’s face and it finally hits him, Qiu Kui’s countless interference to save him and Xiang is because she is JieEr. He carries her to the hospital and stays with her at the hospital. (We’re back at the hospital aren’t we? With W’s condition, we’ve probably made moer than enough early appointments for future hospital visits.) He misses the next day’s basketball practice, and arouses apprehension and suspicion in W and Xiang.
JieEr wakes up and asks DaYing to keep the secret that she is Kiu Qui. “Why?” DaYing wonders.
For Xiang. Xiang and I grew up under different socio-economic status. I’ve always wanted to interact with him without the burden of having to worry about the master-servant disparity. (We’re back at that aren’t we?) And the best way I could think of, is play basketball with him. (If that’s not a sign of affection, then what is?)
When we were little, the most important thing for Xiang is basketball. I was influenced by his passion for it, eventually, I start to become interested in the sport as well. Some times, I even envy Can because he can play ball with Xiang.
Under Xiang’s grandpa’s patronizing presence and his insufferable Pride and Prejudice, anyone with enough Sense and Sensibility would know that playing with Xiang is out of the question. Yet, the experience made JieEr determined to learn to play basketball. No matter the cost. Because that is the only way and time she can be close to Xiang without worrying about propriety.
A stroke of luck introduced JieEr to street basketball — a style that do with restriction and boundary. (Ironically, she is confined under the falsehood she must endure as Qiu Kui: the thick hooded attire, the mask, and the sign language.)
Her perseverance earned her the partiality of the street basketball king. She became his student and trained tirelessly.
“I know about street basketball. It’s hard even for guys, and yet, you are a girl, and you play so well… It must be very hard for you…” DaYing ponders. “Yes. But it’s worth it… Because Fate remained on my side..
While QiuKui played street basketball and became increasingly famous, Xiang saw her playing one day and lingered to watch. She took great pride in showing off before him, afraid that her effort weren’t enough to attract his attention.
But Xiang not only took notice, he got off the car to get a better look and was intrigued enough to show a hand. Then he challenged her. 😀
“That was the first time I was able to be with DongFang Xiang, without considering the fact that he is my master. And in that few short minutes, I felt the ecstasy of being equal, of being carefree.
“After that, I started playing with DongFang Xiang as Qiu Kui. Each time we play, I put in 120% of my effort till I’m utterly exhausted. But each time, I am filled with exuberance… DaYing, maybe I am mad. (Madly in love.) But I once swore that no matter what happened, there is nothing that can stop me from playing with DongFang Xiang as Qiu Kui. (I hope she has the same persistence when it finally comes to being with Xiang and be truly “free”.) I want to continue playing with him like this. Keep playing, until the end of time…”
“I don’t understand. Why can’t you play with him as JieEr?” JieEr flutters her lashes and says, “DaYing, there are some things you won’t understand… If I’m JieEr, then DongFang Xiang and I will never have the happy ending. But if I’m Qiu Kui, at least, I can play basketball with him. If I lose the identity of Qiu Kui, I’ll turn back to the dusty cinder girl without her glass Jimmy Choo. So DaYing, can you keep the secret for me please? I know this is unfair to you, but please…” DaYing wipes away his tear and nods firmly.
Despite being heart broken, the fact that JieEr was hurt becomes motivation for DaYing to beat Can. Xiang however, mingles frustration and despair with the game coming up and without JieEr at his side. He calls JieEr for moral support. She doesn’t pick up. Although worried, he troubles her no further and calls DaYing. DaYing encourages Xiang and tells him to cherish JieEr. Without giving Xiang a chance to ask for clarification, he hangs up.
Someone being terminally ill in a drama is tolerable to me, as long as (s)he doesn’t end up dying in the end. OR miraculously survive the sickness because some poor soul donated his/her organ. UGH. These plot devices are so out of date, I’m not sure I can refrain from rolling my eyes so hard that it’ll hurt if Hot Shot resorts to take the mellow drama route. Oh the horror. *covers eyes and runs away*
The hints of W’s condition makes me think that perhaps the excuse she used to run back to TW, namely the misfortune that her fiancé married another woman without her knowledge, is nothing but a lie to cover up her sickness. If that were the case, then she must be in some dire situation. UGH.
About Qiu Kui being JieEr, previous rambling says it all.
On the other hand, JieEr is finally, I mean FINALLY explicitly revealing her feelings. Yay for that and dear Anson looks so stylish as Qiu Kui’s teacher. 😀
A self-satisfying note on the Taiwanese Sign Language, unlike ASL, a lot of the signs JieEr uses require her hands to adopt different hand shapes. Grammar wise, it seems to be in sync with Chinese grammar (or Japanese grammar? Since it has heavy influence from Japanese Sign Language), which is also unlike ASL.