JieEr: Tell me DaYing, honestly, are you doing this because of me?
DaYing: I, just wanted to do it.
DaYing: Because… I thought… by doing this, I will make you happy.
(Aww look at that poor love-sick boy, there is a fine line between being a sacrificial martyr and being outright foolish.) And surely,
JieEr: Are you stupid? How could I be happy knowing you are hurting yourself? Even if it’s for DongFang Xiang.
JieEr slams the ball hard into the ground, turns sharply from DaYing and runs away crying.
Friends don’t let friends drunk and drive; friends don’t let friends send themselves to a meat grinder and come out as a lump of grounded beef either. (There goes my attempt to advocate for no drunk driving, folks!) JieEr rushes to W and begs her not to let DaYing participate in the second round of game with Xuan Wu, explaining DaYing’s “noble” intentions. As they are speaking, Du Fei storms in, gasping for W to go to the practice court, something is happening.
As if Quidditch isn’t creative enough, or the writer is unhappy about J.K Rowling leaving football out of the picture, here, we’ve got our own version of Footditch, minus the broomsticks and the golden snitch.
W doesn’t seem to like the innovation very much, so the private practice comes to a halt. To further prevent DaYing’s masochist self-mutilation, W adds a new face to the team, Rice Cake. Now Footditch is forced to be tossed in the laundry pile, whose only destiny is to wait. (I said it’s time for a sixth player in the last recap, and we get one. Be careful of what you wish for!)
DaYing tried biting the new guy, when that’s no use, he hops to W’s side, swinging her arms, pouting and begging in a kiddish voice that, “me wants to play. me be good. me no use secret weapon.” Eh, how about no.
The new strategy, in a nutshell, is to help Xiang avoid Can at all cost. Having done that, W gracefully slumps onto the floor. She faints and we get our so longed ambulance. (You all know how I feel about that.)
Now the team are officially on their own (woohoo the freeeeeedom.. or, boo for the lack of parental guidance.)
Since DaYing wasn’t allowed to participate today, he’s going to find a way to make himself visible somehow. His chance came when the sixth player decides to urinate right before the game. DaYing follows him, pees on him, and ushers the poor guy to the locker room to change, locks him in (half naked), and walks out like nothing has happened. Easy as breeze.
No more benching and no more staring for Yuan DaYing, because he is going to fulfill his masochist’s wet dream Right. Now.
The present statistics is as follows — Can: 1 foul; Xiang: 2 points; DaYing: 2 wounds. PiLi gets an extra shot.
Although DaYing is still good humored enough to try and provoke Can, who looks away coldly, the chest pain is kicking in. It wouldn’t be long before DaYing passes out.
W wakes up and watches the live broadcast of the game on television with JieEr by her side. Both are surprised to see DaYing in the game. Worried for DaYing, W sends JieEr to the gym and hopefully the power of love will save DaYing before Can slashes him in half.
With the opportunity DaYing is creating for Xiang in the expense of his own well being, PiLi is looking good. But a huge cloud of gray is cumulating above Can’s head. So frustrated is he with DaYing’s interference, he gives up subtlety and hits, smashes, kicks DaYing with all he’s worth.
Far away, stands:
The trio find their solitude on a tall platform and analyze the current situation in turn: there is no doubt about Yuan DaYing’s capability, but the key to victory resides in Xiang’s break through. Whether Can’s presence will stimulate Xiang enough — galvanizing him into a forced metamorphosis — will determine PiLi’s fate in this year’s basketball league, but more importantly, making Xiang a more capable player. (And grandpa’s little project worthwhile to spin into action.)
The game comes to a halt when DaYing collapses like a corpse.
Then DaYing struggles up, lets the thin stream of blood trickle down his chin and yells, “DONGFANG XIANG, CHARGE!”
Remember this on the left? Can is being pushed into a tight corner, and foul play is being considered.
Yuan DaYing returns to the dug hole after splashing two tons of water on his face and cheers his teammates on to no avail. Although they don’t wear their worries for him on their sleeves, each and everyone of them are concerned for DaYing. Xiang went as far as to bang on the lockers to warn DaYing not to get anywhere near Can during the second half. DaYing reassures his buddies that he is fine, all they need to trouble their heads with is how to penetrate Xuan Wu’s defense and score. (Not happening.)
The second half continues the mayhem of its counterpart.
More friction occurred between the main players, then Can zooms in in close proximity to DaYing and thrusts the teeth of his meticulously arrayed blades into DaYing’s abdominal. A muffled scream joined by JieEr’s silent gasp, Xiang’s nullified terror, and WuJi Zun’s stunned surprise, fuse into one and resonate across the court. Then the discord freezes, hanging suspended in midair and is heard no more. In its place is DaYing’s last words, “DongFang Bug… this… is as far as I can go…” before he collapses onto the hard wooden floor.
Even after being carried out horizontally, DaYing still manages to belittle Can in his normal I-am-invincible-hence-I-don’t-take-crap-from-anyone kind of demeanor. Berating aside, he tells Xiang with utmost candor that, “That #13 is somebody. But compared to the you, who had once defeated me, he’s nobody. Go on and play him for me. Play him and beat him.”
Xiang walks out of the locker room and sees Can leaning against the side. He approaches Can, without making eye contact, he says, “Believe it or not, I truly intended to save you.” Can snaps, “Isn’t it a little too late for that? This. is. what. you. owe. me.” He enunciates word for word, his face contorting in anger, hatred, and sadness. “Right. But don’t take it on my friend.” Xiang retorts, meeting Can’s fiery gaze for the first time. “So what?” Can closes his eyes and regains his composure. “Can, even if it was my fault that you became lame, I won’t let history repeat itself on my best friend again. Do I make myself clear?” “So?” Can challenges. Xiang hesitates, then he replies, “From now on till the end of the game, I will give back everything you think I owe you.” (Finally.) I want to see HOW you are going to pay me back. Following Xiang’s silhouette, Can wonders ominously.
DaYing smiles at JieEr, who is still crying incessantly. She softly chides him for laughing in the ghostly condition that he is in. He replies, with a bitter chuckle that he’s happy for two reasons. 1) She cares about him and is caring for him. 2) He did what he’s supposed to do and now, DongFang Xiang finally has the courage to face Can.
The rest of the game, DongFang Xiang plays with the aggression of a mountain lion. In 13 minutes, he has chased the difference down to a mere three points. Then in the last eight seconds, Xiang jumps up to slam dunk, Can follows suit to block and to play the same dirty trick he’s done on DaYing, hoping to disable Xiang the same way. But Qiu Kui has prepared Xiang. He steps onto Can’s braced leg and uses it as a climbing stool, feeling his weight on Can’s knee and weighing him down, Xiang slams the ball hard into the hoop. Game over.
Grandpa cackles in satisfaction, marveling the perfection his grandson has just reached and proclaiming the commencement of Plan Tian Wu. (doom ahead.)
The crowd goes ecstatic for PiLi’s victory. DaYing pushes JieEr towards the middle of the court and motions with his head for her to join Xiang for the celebration. She looks back, unsure. He smiles at her for encouragement. She smiles back in gratitude and happily skips to join Xiang. DaYing watches in pain.
While we either rejoice for Xiang (and JieEr) or weep for DaYing (or both), let me remind you all, grandpa is up there watching. (sorry, just had to ruin the moment for you. 😀 )
Post game isn’t always about celebration parties and it deserves just as much attention. When boy meets boy, it’s of a whole other scene entirely. Can congratulates Xiang for winning. Xiang notions for a thanks. Reluctantly, Xiang asks, “So I assume you’ve been kicked out of Xuan Wu?” Can crooks his head and shrugs, “I never belonged anywhere in the first place. Strict rules are for proper boys like you. Street basketball fits me better.” Resigned, Can starts to walk pass Xiang. Xiang hesitates, then he suggests, “If you have nowhere to go, I can arrange for you to transfer. Come and play with us. We can fight side by side.” Can sighs and chuckles, “Side by side, fight together… Are you kidding me?” “I’m not joking. I am serious. I really want us to go back to the days when we practice together, play together, and face challenges together.” A faint smile surfaces as Xiang remembers the good old days with Ah Fu.
Can thinks about the offer, bites his lip, and sighs softly, “Too bad, we can’t go back to the past…” (Then create the future together!) He takes a step further. “Ah Fu!” Xiang calls after, “I just want you to know that as long as you need me, I will always be by your side. Remember.” Can turns his head slightly, then he finally says, “I don’t understand a word you are saying. (This guy’s negativity is going to take some work to melt down.) But… DongFang Xiang, there is one thing, I have to tell you.” He turns and smiles a half smile, “That is… you don’t owe me anymore.” Then he smirks at Xiang and limps away without ever looking back. Goodbye Can. Xiang calls out in his head.
The team brings back the big fat regional trophy to W’s hospital bed. The principle was with W upon their arrival. Neither the coach nor the principle seemed happy at the sound of the news. The principle excuses himself and leaves the room. Once outside, he starts to break into tears. Not tears of happiness, but the contrary. He recollects a conversation with the doctor earlier and grieves for his young daughter. Her condition is worse than she lets out, according to the doctor, “It’s a miracle that she even lasted this long.”
Later that night, Xiang’s grandpa pays a visit to W’s house. (Oh let the politics sort themselves out in the next episode, we desperately need some sweet, happy moments to balance out the shipwreck of emotions we’ve experienced in the last n minutes and the prepare ourselves for next episode’s emotional elevator. Because it’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride.)
Xiang and JieEr walk side by side under the starlit sky. Still thinking about DaYing’s odd but not entirely unwelcoming behavior of making Xiang hold JieEr’s hand, Xiang comments that DaYing never acts according to logic. JieEr smiles and observes that Xiang has changed a lot since he transfered here. “I’ve known you for so many years, since when do you start smiling whenever you mention someone?” Xiang breaks into a wide grin and shakes his head. “See, you are doing it now.” Xiang lets his smile fade, only to break into another. He replies teasingly, “Stop, you are making it sound like DaYing and I are a brokeback pair.” “SEE! Since when did you learn to crack lame jokes?” “Maybe.” Xiang nods, “DaYing is a special friend indeed. I bet DaYing doesn’t know that because of his contagious passionate nature, I was able to chase after what I wanted. Like, you.” JieEr starts to stutter, “I…” Xiang cuts her off, “Even though you’ve already rejected me once, but DaYing led me to realize that no matter what kind of obstacle I face, I should still face it with bravery… So, I want to tell you again that… I… I like you.” He chuckles uncertainly and continues, “I… I want to be with you.” Xiang looks down and inhales deeply, then he bends to pick up JieEr’s hand.
JieEr hastily inquires, “Can you, not ask me to make a choice? Not yet.” Xiang laughs nervously, “Is it because of DaYing?” “No… I… I just wanted the three of us to be friends, forever.” Then the phone cuts the silence, breaking the confession into pieces. DaYing is calling to ask about progression. (lol he sure knows how to pick the right time. But it’s almost over anyway.) Then, with an air of importance, DaYing officially steps out of the love triangle with good grace.
JieEr walks away by herself during the phone call, leaving Xiang standing by himself.
Watching DaYing grieving over his lost love, W chokes back the truth about her condition.
Unlike my previous recaps where personal opinions of characters are carefully concealed, I haven’t even been trying to hide my biases for the two dramas I’m recapping on a regular basis. I’m so bad. Will need to improve. Although, on a second thought, there’s not much point to it since if you’ve been following long enough, you have a clear idea who I like and such. Well, I’ll improve when I pick up a new drama to recap.
One thing I don’t like about this entire episode is that the motivation behind DaYing’s single minded goal to block Can for Xiang isn’t to help Xiang but to make JieEr happy. To me, that down sizes the quality of brotherly bond and degrades DaYing’s altruistic sacrifice into that of a foolish attempt to please a woman. I can understand that after all the emphasis on brotherhood, the writer wants to develop DaYing’s equal devotion to JieEr in order to elevate the notion of unrequited love, however, the delivery seems rather opaque and less to the point than how it could’ve been. Ironically, DaYing’s simple gesture of pushing JieEr to Xiang at the end of the game does the trick with such ease and pain that it delivers right to your heart.
Even though the episode is about Xiang getting over the obstacle that’s been hanging over him for episodes, it’s really about Yuan DaYing. I especially like this arrangement because up till now, he hasn’t gotten as much development as opposed to Xiang, who is practically showering in development.
Ok that’s all folks, time to cook dinner and fill my tummy with delicious food!
PS: DongFang Xiang must either know JieEr very well or love her a lot OR is just a rare animal to keep feeling adamant that she is the one after all the mixed signals and rejections.