Starlit Episode 1

Maybe, Rui Shan is the one who always watches over me… Because she’s the one who stayed by my side… And her eyes always only sees, me… Thoughtfully turning the pendant between his fingers, his thought ventures into the past…

“You can give me… this strange-looking stone!” Rui Shan had pointed at the pendant danging close to his heart. And he had shaken his head and refused. “Why not?” she had pouted a little and asked, “who gave it to you?”

He clutches the pendant in his fist and looks out of the window… At that moment, he thought he has made the biggest and happiest decision in his life.

“Rui Shan, wait for me at the beach, I have something special for you.” She waited. But Cheng Yue’s promise for a life together never came. All because of something unprecedented. Someone unexpected.

Dong Xiao Lu is on a business trip in Taiwan. Adventurous and optimistic by nature, she uses the limited time she has before flying back to Beijing to see a piece of the Taiwan she didn’t get to see. What she actually sees veers Far from her expectation.

The blueness of the sky, the greenness of the mountain, and the softness of the breeze fuse together in such a way that the combination places Xiao Lu in a scenery of youthful vitality. It both entrances her and empowers her with the feeling of being alive. She is so drawn to it that don’t know when, she is standing in the middle of the street, in front of an oncoming bus.

The bus doesn’t slow down quickly enough (You would expect the driver to have sense enough to start breaking from far away. I mean, she is standing at a cross road. But, no). The driver honks frantically, the warning sound puts Xiao Lu in a state of panic. She tries to maneuver, but her delayed motoric response keeps her planted directly in front of the bus. If it weren’t for Cheng Yue who happens to pass by on his way to the beach, Xiao Lu would have been hit and perhaps perished then. If it weren’t for Xiao Lu’s lack of awareness to danger, Cheng Yue would have avoided the fateful accident that’s to diverge his love and career on a completely foreign path; perhaps he would have showed up for his rendezvous with Rui Shan, given her the necklace with the “strange-looking” rock pendant she had wanted in a past encounter, held her in an embrace, maybe even engross in a passionate kiss, and ventured on to become the greatest Pianist in the world.

But the truth is, Ah Yue does come in time to save Xiao Lu. He does run toward her; he does push her out of the way; he does get hit by the bus, deflect by the windshield, fall on the street with one hand extended, and he does watch it happen as the front tire of the bus ran over his priceless piano-playing right hand.

The rest comes as a blur for Ah Yue. A painful blur. All he knows is that he still has the necklace he intends to give to Rui Shan and he must not let his mother know about his accident. It would break her heart to know his hand is hurt and subconsciously, he knows how much more his mother values his hand over him.

Crushed by guilt and dread, Xiao Lu has no choice but to leave while her savior is still in the emergency room fighting for his life. She leaves behind a letter explaining her regret, her gratitude, as well as her phone number in Beijing, wishing to make future amends.

When Xiao Lu returns home, her father is sulking by the dining table. Xiao Lu’s recent health check report reveals signs of muscle atrophy. Her condition will deteriorate over time, and she won’t be living a long, fulfilling life.

The next day, Xiao Lu goes out to lunch with her boyfriend Tan Yi Xin. Over hot pot table, she breaks up with him, explaining that it is her nature to be extremely receptive to new things. The problem with that is, her curiosity wanes just as quickly. She’s grown tired of being with him, now she wants a change. Besides, he is a wonderful person, he deserves better women. Yi Xin is stunned. After making sure Xiao Lu isn’t just joking around, he asserts that from his understanding, she is not the insensitive girlfriend that she pretends to be and reasons that there must be a greater driving force than simply “losing interest”. “If there is something, I am here for you,” he remarks with such determination,that Xiao Lu is reduced to tears. Yet it doesn’t change her decision.

April 6, the happiest raining day. I told myself that if this boy introduces himself to me, I will be his girlfriend.

Yin Xin: “It may seem abrupt for me to say this, but… can you be my girlfriend?”

Xiao Lu: =]

Xiao Lu: “Dear god! Xiao Lu and Yi Xin are finally going on vacation together, please, please don’t rain tomorrow! Please don’t rain tomorrow, don’t rain tomorrow, don’t rain tomorrow…”

Yi Xin: “Yesterday, you said ‘don’t rain tomorrow’ 18 times; so KABOOM out came 18 teru teru bozu (晴天娃娃) to make sure today is a sunny day.”

“Another day of fish?” “I didn’t make it for the taste, I want you to recover. Now eat this.” Mother Cheng shoves another spoonful of fish soup down Ah Yue’s throat. He grimaces at her and swallows it. For the next month, Cheng Yue spends everyday at the hospital going through rehab, trying to regain the agility of his right hand. Rui Shan stays with him, watches over him, encourages him, yet her presence isn’t enough to provide him the console he needs. His condition is improving, but not fast enough for Juilliard.

Rui Shan is worried about Ah Yue, so she pays the doctor a private visit to further inquire Ah Yue’s hand. When she is informed that Ah Yue may never play piano again, she nearly loses a grip of herself. She runs into Li Shi Chuan, a friend and an admirer, and explains her state of agitation. He shakes her to clam her down, when that has failed, he reflexively leans forward and forcefully kisses her full on the mouth. She struggles to get free from his grip, but not fast enough to not be seen and misinterpret by Ah Yue, who is already troubled over his slow recovery.

When a disillusioned Ah Yue returns home and faces his angry mom’s castigation, his temper finally erupts like a volcano. Hurtful words are hurtled back and forth, silence retreated into, and finally, after two weeks of contemplation, Ah Yue grabs his bags and leaves Taiwan.

When Rui Shan hears of Ah Yue’s departure, she chases after the bus he’s seated in and gives him a box — the man’s watch of a pair of matching couple watch she purchased on the day they agreed to meet at the beach — then she watches as he is driven further and further away from her.

Two years later in Shanghai, Ah Yue and Xiao Lu are to meet again.

In this strange city, surrounded by strangers, both Xiao Lu and Ah Yue have found a safe harbor to rest their lonely hearts. Xiao Lu works as a photographer for a corporation, generating creative ideas and designs  for the company; Ah Yue utilizes his familiarity with music and gets himself employed as a piano teacher for a music school.

One time at school, in the stairway, Ah Yue witnesses a chubby rich boy, Wu Jie Wen, trying to weasel his way out of a piano lesson while Jie Wen’s buddy trying equally hard to get into a piano lesson. The exchange is quite ingenious (and charming in a kiddish way). Wu Jie Wen loves a kind of cheap, deep-fried street food called da bing (大饼). And his little friend loves music and wants to learn to play the piano. What the small boy does is using the little allowance he has to buy a da bing for Jie Wen. They exchange backpacks and the food; Jie Wen gets to eat his favorite snack, be spared of the tedium of piano lessons, AND play his Nintendo DS in the bathroom — a win-win situation — while his little friend can play music at his heart’s content. A beautifully worked out symbiotic relationship.

Amused by the two boy’s role switch, Ah Yue follows the boy and watches him play. The sight of a boy sitting in front of a disproportionately large piano and being so immersed in music stirs memories of the past. The same poverty, the same talent for music, and the same hunger to learn reminds Ah Yue of his former self. He feels a sudden connection to the stranger boy and wants to do something for him.

His opportunity comes on the night the school holds its periodical mini concert to show the parents what the students have learned.

He uses his influence as a teacher to bring the boy in when he sees the kid hovering in front of the entrance. Then, when the real Wu Jie Wen fails to show up, Ah Yue urges the boy to fill in Jie Wen’s spot and perform in front of the audience.

Xiao Lu’s father has been assigned to take pictures for the concert by the school. He has asked his daughter to come and help out after work. She arrives late from working on the photo shoots of a difficult celebrity client. When she spots Ah Yue on the side of the stage and recognizes him as her savior, she approaches him, not knowing the feelings he may have toward her.

Xiao Lu’s reappearance is a bitter reminder of what he has lost. Resentment and revulsion get a hold of Ah Yue’s better judgment. He grabs Xiao Lu’s camera, deletes the images in the camera for not wanting her to possess any pictures of him. “I sincerely hope that seeing you tonight is an accident, just like two years ago. Don’t let there be a third time.” After throwing that sentence at her coldly and dropping the camera on the floor, he walks out without turning. Little does he know, his act — deleting pictures from her camera — out of compulsivity has brought trouble for Xiao Lu. She will have to find a way to tell her boss that she lost a day’s work.

Bewildered, Xiao Lu follows after him, but Ah Yue is long gone.

Rui Shan: “I like your hands. They are like a pair of mischievous daemons, the wings to our dream.”

Mom: “Your pianist’s hand in exchange for a liar’s life, is it worth it?”

Words, thoughts, and images of his hand encircles him, he wakes up in a startle.

I think I was a little overzealous with the pictures, but that’s okay. My initial resistance to the drama is due to its tragic nature. I don’t intentionally stay away from tragedies per se, (in fact, Greek tragedies are full of glorious ironies, which I find amusing — what, you don’t think ironies are glorious? Well they are! Ah, I’m digressing.) but I don’t particularly enjoy tearjerkers. I think crying in itself has a certain cathartic effect, but I want my tears to be shed on something meaningful. Terminal illness is just not my cup of tea and I don’t want to be locked in on a recapping project that I will come to resent.

Having said that, the emotional treatment in the first episode is, in my opinion, appropriately done. Xiao Lu’s break up with her boyfriend is touched upon but not too heavy handed to seem out of character. After all, the real emotional turmoil is yet to come and the director wouldn’t want to scare away the audiences just yet.

To sum up, I’m cautiously hopeful for this drama to turn out well. Hopefully the second episode won’t tip my judgment toward the negative side.

10 thoughts on “Starlit Episode 1”

  1. ohhhh Starlit recap! i love it! thank you so much.
    the one part i was so giddy (like smiling so widely) about is when the 2 little chubby kids turned up and planning on their own and Cheng Yue was smiling knowingly.

    i was just kind of caught off guard when it was so happy in the beginning (love the OST), and then suddenly, oopppss, the accident. we know it is going to be dramatic from the start, but i agree they have not overdone it. my tears almost fell during the scene rui shan was chasing cheng yue’s bus, and she was there holding her arms up, and cheng yue shouting “Goodbye”.and that scene bet mother and son, my eyes never left the screen.

    and it hurts that they still bothered to show some history of Xiao Lu and Yi Xin, just kinda makes Yi Xin so pitiful bec he has been so good to her, and he is in no mistake, but we know Xiao Lu is gonna find Cheng Yue later on.

    well Episode 2 aired right after Episode 1, and it was spared of most of the drama that has to be settled in the first ep. just saw the beginning of Ep2, and it just got me nervous and anticipating on how they are gonna undo the mistake for the previous photoshoot.

    **and Alice is so pretty! i like her with Cheng Yue as well as I do like Xiao Lu with him.

  2. base on my recommendation ey? I didn’t feel any pressure at all. hark3.

    we are opposite irugnotmis. not that i prefer heavy dramas…but i prefer serious reality themed dramas over light ones. But ofcourse i do have a great bias as jerry yan can make me watch any kind of drama he3. I also dont like crying. But I find some difference in the kinds of crying. Crying sad or crying torture or crying happy or crying touched. It sometimes nice to feel these varied feelings and it seem this drama really will bring it all out. Ahh and i am so excited to feel all of these with them.

    the advantage of STARLIT over other terminal illness based dramas is its transparency from the very start. it was promoted as such and they were honest to share the main story before it even started. a ruined pianist and a sick dying charming girl meeting and falling inlove. i would like to highlight how different it is when the main tragedy comes in in the middle of the story and totally unexpected. dramas like that would usually get reactions like….WHAT THE *%#$!. But this drama is not about having that kind of twist for a dramatic effect. But more of a realistic story telling of how love can form in the most unexpected time and will help one cope with the misery of life. And it happens. Maybe 1 in a 10000 or even a million but it still happens. And it would be wonderful to let us have a peak in this special kind of story. It is actually inspiring.

    As usual your recap is great. And the pics are so sweet to look at. Made me understand the story more and love it even more. Thank you irugnotmis. So sincerely. But as much as i want to read something from you every week, i would not be happy also if it will make you feel locked in any way. Much more resent doing it. I will be happy if you will just check on it once in a while when you have time. I would be nice to give your tear ducks some exercise.

  3. Another one to look forward to irugnotmis. You know i’m an avid fan of your recap summary. i’m so glad that you’re doing a recap summary of this series.

    Looking forward to your next recap summary.

  4. it’s been so long since i visited your blog and starlit already in epi 3. i did not even know this is being aired. lol.

    have a great day.

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