The past is dug up to haunt the present. But the future is still hanging outside of the window. Do you open it or do you draw the blinds?
Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
Ah Ming walks Shan Bao home and while they are saying goodbyes to each other, Sun Wu Di eavesdrops inside. Shan Bao is pleasantly surprised that a long day of errant running and wedding planning that she had initially resented turns out to be a wonderful learning experience. What she is most grateful for is Ah Ming’s boast, which leads her to realize the affection she has for Sun Wu Di. Ecstatic of her new discovery, Shan Bao readily shares it with Ah Ming — with Wu Di listening on the inside. But things can’t ever go smoothly in a world of bird egg flying drama. A large truck drives by and honks at the precise moment Shan Bao reveals the name of her crush. The ear splitting noise drowns Shan Bao’s indirect confession into petty filaments of sound waves and weaves an eulogy of misunderstanding.
Ah Ming takes it for granted that there is no better husband candidate than himself and walks away with the conviction that Shan Bao is in love with him; Wu Di assumes that old flames have been reignited after a day of friction; Shan Bao is simply relieved to have let a secret out of her chest. As soon as Ah Ming left, Wu Di steps out of hiding to chide Shan Bao for returning home too late, completely overlook his overprotective boyfriend-ish behavior. Shan Bao bounces back and realizes that Wu Di has overheard her exchange with Ah Ming and deduces that he must have also heard her confession. Fluttering her eyelashes and turning pinker and pinker, Shan Bao asks, “So… how do you think about, that?” “How I think? I think it’s TERRIBLE.” Wu Di throws his arms up in exasperation, “I think you have no taste whatsoever.” “Really?” her eyebrows form a firm knot at his reaction. “Of course. You and him are NOT possible. Everybody knows he is just playing you.” Shan Bao looks back at him with teary eyes. “What’s that look for? I told you we’re [just] friends. Friends need to be honest with each other, which is what I’m doing. (Oh the irony) And, that Ah Ming isn’t a decent guy. Keep your distance.” Hurt and feeling defiant, Shan Bao snaps back and turns to her room.
The next day, Ah Ming brings a pile of betrothal gifts AND a paycheck to present to her father-in-law-to-be. Of course the presents and money are misconstrued as material compensation to express his thanks for Shan Bao’s help — we know better.
The next day is also Tian Qing’s birthday. She is presented with a lavish birthday party. There are balloons and ribbons but these colorful decorations cannot cover up the fact that Tian Qing is lonely. She has no friends and her only family, Wei Qing, doesn’t even remember her birthday until his best friend chastised him for his negligence. Despite all, Tian Qing’s birthday is a wonderful sucking up opportunity for Ah Qiang — Wu Di’s ex-sidekick and Wei Qing’s current-sidekick. He gives Tian Qing a kaleidoscope in exchange for her to speak well of him in front of her father, his boss. The girl happily accepts it and accidentally drops the toy, smashing it into piece. Stunned at how ephemeral happiness is, she bends down to pick up the pieces, only to cut her finger and see the deformed reflection of her burnt face from a shard of the broken glass. Touching her burnt cheek with the cut finger and smearing blood over the deformity (how morbid!), she steps back in shock. (No need to be shocked, if you’ve washed your face at all, you’ve probably felt it a thousand times.) Ah Qiang finds her standing atop the pile of broken glasses and immediately makes a fuss over it, attracting Wei Qing and Kevin’s attention. Wei Qing snaps at Ah Qiang and comforts Tian Qing that when she goes to the States, she’ll… “Why don’t you want me anymore?” She interrupts him, tears streaming down her face like two mini fountains.
“I want mommy! I want mommy!” And out the little girl runs. (Look at her, who would believe that those short stubby legs could out run two grown men if we weren’t in Drama Land?) Now Invincible Shan Bao Mei has taken the first step towards the Adventure of Huck Finn Tian Qing, we should probably put on our prejudice sensor to humor the script writers. (Yes, we get the idea. Looks don’t matter, blah blah blah — even though it does. Now, can we please skip the didactic indoctrination and get on with the bickering couple?)
So Tian Qing runs far far away to Far Far Away Land (– and meets Fiona and Shrek living happily ever after. There, she learns that looks don’t matter and becomes complacent. End of the story.–) and bumps into Shan Bao and Ah Ming, as well as Wu Di who is following Shan Bao. She passes them and runs straight to a crowd of children. But as soon as she showcases the other side of her face, she is enveloped with screams and pointed fingers (like you didn’t expect that). The kids run away from her as if they’ve just seen the Phantom of the Opera. Tian Qing bellows a loud scream (wasn’t paying attention, but I’d say it’s… a midrange F?) and breaks down crying. Shan Bao hurries over to provide The Quantum of Solace to ease Tian Qing’s wounded heart. (Sorry, couldn’t resist right there. Disappointing movie by the way.) She takes out a pink marker and draws a swan (methinks it looks more like a wing) on Tian Qing’s cheek. The effect is enormous. Suddenly, alllllll the kids forsake their former prejudice and embrace Tian Qing with the envy of wanting a pink swan/wing of their own. (Oh if it’s that easy in reality.)
When all the kids have left, Shan Bao sits Tian Qing down and tells the little girl the aspiring story of Shrek:
I think Princess Fiona is the prettiest of all the princesses. Because she learns to love herself…. Just like us. You have your pink swan on your face, I have my biceps. But we can still be like Princess Fiona and learn to love ourselves. Even if we are still rejected by people, even if we are still betrayed by those we love, even if at the end of the road, there is no one for us… We must be courageous, because that’s the true mission of being a princess.
Eventually, Shan Bao takes Tian Qing home, gives her delicious Shan Bao rice to fill the tummy with, dresses her, and washes her hair. When all’s done, the two are up for some girl talk. The little talk makes Shan Bao do away with the fears and insecurities of yesterday and muster the courage to open the window to let in the infinite possibilities of tomorrow. Holding Tian Qing’s hand for moral support, she approaches Wu Di…
Wu Di and Shan Bao each have something to say to the other. Unfortunately, the bickering gets the better of the two, and they end up antagonizing each other before heading separate ways. But Shan Bao has her own agenda. She wants to test Wu Di. If he comes and rescues her from Ah Ming tomorrow, then that means he cares about her. She will, in return, confess to him. (It doesn’t make sense. She’s not supposed to know about Ah Ming’s plan to marry her and so, there wouldn’t be the need for rescue.)
In any case, when Wu Di knocks on Shan Bao’s door to confess the next morning, Shan Bao has already left to do her hair. Missing a chance now only means the real confession will have to be chivalrous.
The actual cooking competition somehow turns into a lion dance without the lions actually dancing. Wu Di and Wei Qing are competing with each other, through kung fu, to obtain a token of success. Whoever retrieves the token is deemed the winner of this “cooking” competition and can cater for Ah Ming’s wedding. Meanwhile Shan Bao is fooled into going through the wedding process with Ah Ming. Under the false impression that she’s helping Ah Ming rehearse for the actual wedding, Shan Bao drinks down the wine that symbolizes the unity of men and women through marriage. To force the marriage upon Shan Bao, Ah Ming has added a dose of medicine to induce drowsiness so when she wakes up, they will be man and wife on a physical level. The drug takes effect immediately and Shan Bao faints in Ah Ming’s arms. (The writers know that only giving medicine intravenously can achieve this kind of quick results right?)
Ah Ming picks Shan Bao up in both arms and makes haste to bed… Presently, Wu Di realizes what Ah Ming is playing at and abandons the catering job at hand to save Shan Bao.
What happens next is what I call a Farce with the capital “F”. A colossal, massive, gargantuan, titanic, senseless FARCE of sheer stupidity.
So the farce in a nutshell: Ah Ming is holding Shan Bao in front of the bedroom door when his real wife barges in and starts kicking and yelling and screaming and cursing at Ah Ming for lying and marrying someone else. While that goes on for a good 10 minutes, Sun Wu Di speeds at 100 MPH on a passerby’s motorcycle to rescue Shan Bao. He gets there in time and save Shan Bao from the beast’s claw. The end.
It’s not that I’m insensitive to the pervasiveness of some of the themes presented in the drama, but the way these ideas are explored and executed made it very, very difficult to take them seriously. It’s one thing to be emotional and profound, another to be corny and cheesy.
With that said, Roy Qiu is really not convincing as a young father. His anger and worry (more anger than worry) seems more applicable to the case of a girlfriend gone missing rather than the disappearance of his dear child.
On a personal note, remind me never, NEVER to recap out of obligation again. Then, I’ll spend less time headdesking over insufferably idiotic scenes. Somehow, the recap turns out ok.