Starlit Episode 2

Ah Yue loses his stone necklace and returns to the performing arts center to look for it the following day. He has no luck finding it, on top of that, he gets fired for “ruining” the annual concert that’s to be the basis of which the school hoaxes the rich parents into loosening their grip on the wallet. Bureaucracy and its dogma.

Before packing his bags to go home, Ah Yue is cornered by the mother of the real Wu Jie Wen and demanded of an explanation for allowing her son to cheat his way out of piano practices — as if Ah Yue personally orchestrated the swap to prevent her son from going to his lessons. But of course, he did accidentally let the knowledge of the boy skipping lessons slip his mind, and henceforth not unjustly accused of. “If you really want to hear the explanation, why don’t you listen to your son?” is Ah Yue’s reply. Ignoring the mother’s gaping surprise, he turns to the child who is submissively (and I bet, unwillingly) being pinched by his mother on the cheek, as if his face is a large piece of playdough. Ah Yue addresses the kid directly, “If you don’t want to play the piano, you should let your mother know. Why don’t you use this opportunity to communicate with her about it? The greater the expectation, the greater the disappointment.” In a hindsight, he adds to the mother, “Honestly, your son’s hands seem more agile playing video games than playing the piano.” πŸ˜€

So, holding a petty box of belongings and ready to embrace the life of an unemployed, Ah Yue descends the stairs of his former work place and encounters Dong Da Sen, Xiao Lu’s dad.

After a laborious explanation effort on Da Sen’s part, Ah Yue gets a few things clear: First and foremost, Xiao Lu isn’t a liar. The reason that the number she left didn’t work when Ah Yue tried to dial it is that she and her father moved to Shanghai (in order to completely cut off from her ex-boyfriend). She tried to contact him after moving, but Ah Yue has already left the hospital. “Then, is it my fault that I left the hospital too early for you and your daughter?” Ah Yue points out sourly. (He’s so kiddish.:) ) The second has to do with the pictures. Da Sen admits that it is Xiao Lu’s fault to take pictures of Ah Yue without permission, but he also artfully slips out that Ah Yue’s out burst has placed Xiao Lu in deep trouble. The camera contains a set of rather important photo shoots that hasn’t been backed up yet. When Ah Yue cleared the memory card last night, that set of pictures went *poof*and got lost somewhere in the abyss.

Paralleling papa Da Sen’s description, Xiao Lu is standing in front of her boss right this minute. With head bowed low and brow furrowed deep, she takes full responsibility for the accident and promises to amend whatever loss she has incurred on the company.

Ah Yue returns home with a thoughtful expression on his face. His landlord-slash-best friend-slash-bar owner walks over and comforts Ah Yue with one of the modernized proverbs that says if one flounders on the job field, one will succeed in a romantic pursuit to restore the overall balance in the cosmos (deep, I know). Ignoring the silly remarks for the moment, he grabs onto his friend’s shirt and half forcing half begging, he asks his friend to find him a chance to with the celebrity connected to Xiao Lu’s lost work. That way, he can try to negotiate another photo shoot. In the meantime, Xiao Lu is paying the celebrity’s anal manager a personal visit to discuss the same thing.

Xiao Lu is ruthlessly shot down by the celebrity’s manager, so Ah Yue, witnessing the scene, walks up and earnestly pleas the manager to give Xiao Lu a second chance. Not indifferent to their sincerity, the manager motions for the other assistances to leave the room. Once there’s only the three of them, the tone of the manager changes completely; he tells them the only way to resolve this problem is to pay him a healthy sum.

When Ah Yue realizes that they are dealing with a scum no better than any other embezzler, he bursts out, “you are that kind of people!” Picking up the condescension in his tone, the manager jumps up and points a finger at Ah Yue, “what did you say?” “I said. You are THAT kind of people!” “WHAT kind of people?” the manager probes on. “An asshole!” comes the reply. You can imagine how angry the manager must feel for being called an ass, even if it’s absolutely right. Then, the scene gets a little unintentionally funny. On the one side, the manager does not want to have anything to do with these two troublesome people anymore, after being called an arse. On the other side, Ah Yue is so angry, he simply doesn’t want to leave the scene until he has fully conveyed his message of how the manager manages to join asshole-dom. (Well, he’s a manager, he manages.) So the two of them shout back and forth, and the content of the verbal dispute becomes progressively childish. The bottom line is, Xiao Lu doesn’t succeed in negotiating a second photo shoot.

But that doesn’t matter, because there is something better.

While giving back Ah Yue’s stone necklace (which he calls “The Lost Sorrow”), Xiao Lu is inspired of another idea:

Who can tell that this woman in the photo shoot isn’t the contracted celebrity? (Who can tell it is?) The art of getting away with messing up once in awhile resides in the justification. And that, is the craft Xiao Lu employs to get herself out of trouble. Of course the client isn’t going to be happy about paying big bucks for a celebrity whose face doesn’t even show up on the posters. But, what pacified them and even perked up their interest is the idea behind the deliberate choice of cropping out the woman’s face. (We know ALL about their deliberation, don’t we?) So the idea is to promote the jewelry in two stages. The first stage is through the promotional posters and the second is through the CF. By cutting off the face of the celebrity, the photos become more than just another jewelry promotion. The audiences will be interested to find out who the celebrity is (or they just don’t care) and when stage two (the CF) starts broadcasting, the product will have already made an impression on the buyers. The added saliency will, theoretically, help with the sales.

Surely enough, the client responded with reasonable enthusiasm.

What follows is a celebration for successfully closing the case. Through which, Xiao Lu finds out that Ah Yue lost his job at the music school. Feeling half responsible, she sets off to find Ah Yue and thanks him for the inspiration. He responds with, “If-every-time-I-see-you-something-bad-happens,-then-would-you-please-stop-appearing-before-me?-Keep-a-distance-for-safety-reasons-THANKKKKU!” then he turns to leave.

Since Ah Yue doesn’t want to talk to Xiao Lu, she has to call her best friend Da Hong, who is, by the way, the actual model for the photo shoots. Da Hong enters the bar and stumbles upon Ah Yue looking for a new job. She leaves a card and the information that her company is looking for employees. Ah Yue declines the offer, claiming that advertising just isn’t his cup of tea.

After Da Hong leaves, Ah Yue thinks back on her words (which is a regurgitation of what Xiao Lu used to convince Da Hong), “Advertisement is the media that transmits specific information to people who needs them. Consequently, what’s being advertised is not the product itself but the idea behind the product — an ideal, or a dream (taking a leap here, no?) that can satisfy someone’s needs and desires. ” (She has demonstrated exactly what commercials aim to achieve — a clever assemble of embellishments, in this case words, that lures people into aligning their intentionality with that of the advertisers. That’s my two cents of cynicism realism for ya.)

The next day, Ah Yue goes to the interview. When the interviewer hears his name, it immediately registers to her who he is. (After all, the photo deleting event did make it big within the company.) Marveling at his nerve to show up for the interview, she dismisses him without so much as to look at him. To that, he sighs and says, “Well, at least I have made an impression on you and that is my first ad.” The interviewer pauses and looks up at him, impressed. Her change in attitude gives Ah Yue an opportunity, but what earns him the job is the sincerity and honesty he exhibits during the interview.

When he finds out he is to be Xiao Lu’s colleague working under the same roof, he walks off, angry at being played. It takes a little convincing on Xiao Lu’s part to help him conquer his aversive feelings toward seeing her constantly (and by extension, being reminded of what his life could have been). He opens up to the new challenges awaiting him and takes Xiao Lu’s advise to write to his family at home for the first time in two years.

Imagine the disappointment Ah Yue’s mother would feel if she were to find out that her son is investing his talents into advertisement. From high culture (classical music) to pop culture (advertisement), the transition must be hard to accept, taking into account how oppressive her visions of how Ah Yue’s life should be have been. On the other hand, it’s established that the protagonists should work together and cultivate their love in close proximity. Not necessarily a creative way of putting people together, considering how much intervention was done to gear Ah Yue towards applying for this particular advertising company, but given Xiao Lu’s personality, it’s acceptable.

This episode seems only so-so. Impending doom from the previous episode manifested and resolved, new relationships on its way to establishment, and future conflicts introduced — all of these aspects appear to be necessary components to keep a drama going, but none dive deep enough to evoke a sense of resonance.

But, the preview for the next episode is looking more promising. So let’s wait and see.

2 thoughts on “Starlit Episode 2”

  1. wow. great recap again. not as tragic now ey…but it will be definitely.

    its actually sweet that they both care despite their history and their present feelings.

    rui shan will finally find him again. promising indeed. chaos? closure? need to wait.

  2. this episode gives some time for relief after that fast paced Episode 1 packed with all the drama and revelations. well both episodes were shown together, so for me who watches it continuously i consider it as 1 Episode so that the general feeling is balanced. this episode is cute. the relationship with the people are fun, Ah Yue with the landlord/ friend, even w/ the manager, and of course with Xiao Lu. they are always bickering at one another. i had a good laugh when Ah Yue delivers those long sarcastic lines to Xiao Lu. even the job interview is cute, haha, i don’t know why.

    but that one shot i really liked is the scene where Ah Yue receives a letter/pamphlet and then thinking over abt the advertising world, turns slowly around (and so does the camera zooms out), w/ Ah Yue looking up at the giant tv screen. maybe it’s just me, but i like that shot.

    and next episode looks interesting, with Rui Shan finding Ah Yue. i guess i’ll bad for her character.

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