Simple rules: your debt, you pay for it. You go into default, your debt collector comes to make you pay.
So at eight o’clock sharp, Chen Lin is waiting at Zai Tian’s door, groggily demanding to know why he didn’t show up last night.
In too good a mood to argue, Zai Tian apologizes for being flaky. On a second thought, he bends down and asks, “So, how did it go?” Chen Lin shoots him a what-do-you-think look and says nothing.
Slapping a hand on his forehead, Zai Tian starts to step back and forth, talking to himself, “Ahhh that Wu Ying Xiong! What did he do this time?” Ignoring Zai Tian’s muttering, Chen Lin demands again, “What did you do last night? Where did you go?!” (Woman, boundaries! Thou art no girlfriend, yet! Back off!)
When Zai Tian smiles smugly to himself, Chen Lin understands, “You found her?” — looks like Zai Tian is Chen Lin’s debt after all.
Since the “secret” is out, Zai Tian starts to gush,
“Did you know, I used to think theme parks are for little kids. It’s actually pretty fun!
Now, I look at everything differently. My life is full of hope and opportunities! … Did you know, when I woke up this morning, the air smelled sweet, and the water tasted sweet, too.
I’ve decided, I’m going to settle down! I’ll work hard, become financially stable (Isn’t he already financially stable?). I’m not going to waste any more time so I can…” (Can what? Get married after having only been on one date?)
Annoyed, Chen Lin dampens Zai Tian’s enthusiasm, “I think this is just one of your flings. In a few days, you’ll forget that you ever said those words.” “That will Not happen”, Zai Tian replies, unaffected, “I am serious this time. So, what kind of flowers do girls like? Balloon flower and white lily sounds good, only, it lacks a bit of… passion.”
Tersely, Chen Lin replies, “How would I know. Maybe she’s like me, she doesn’t like flowers. Flowers are troublesome. When they wither, you have to throw them away.” Oblivious to Chen Lin’s increasingly foul mood, Zai Tian says dismissively, “Oh, I thought all girls like flowers… How about red roses? Bold, simple, and passionate!” Finally had enough, Chen Lin starts to leave, “Whatever you like. Give her roses, the most unoriginal kind of flowers out there.” “Fine I won’t. Don’t be mad, I’ll listen to you.” Zai Tian calls after. “You want to listen to me?” angry now, Chen Lin turns and yells, “If I tell you to crap in a box and send it to her, will you do it? If you want to listen to me, then STOP disrupting my life!” (Uh-huh, look who came to find who. 😀 )
Chen Zai Tian isn’t completely clueless of Chen Lin’s feelings. He knows, better than she thinks he does. So when Chen Lin is gone, he looks on after, saying softly to the lingering smell of her presence, “I’m not worth it. Because, I’ve always been waiting for her.”
Hmmm… Looks like roses won in the end.
Zai Tian comes to the burger place to wait for Xiao Mei. She sees him and smiles brightly while mouthing the words, “I’ll be off in an hour.” He smiles and mouths back, “I know. I will wait.”
Not long after, Zai Tian gets a call from Hero, telling him to come to a BBQ at night — Chen Lin will be there. (Now Hero turns around and becomes the selfless matchmaker for Zai Tian and Chen Lin? Hah.) Zai Tian agrees but he adds that he will bring a friend to the BBQ.
In the stillness of the hour, the gentle glow of the sunset paints a lovely picture of love and harmony: behind the floating balloons, the laughing children, and the chattering parents — a mackerel sky filled with fluffy white clouds…
Suddenly, a loud bang tares the picture into shreds. A cacophony of glass shattering, chairs flying, and people crying resonates in the dark smoky air, overlaying the peacefulness with a new, macabre beauty.
(I know I’m supposed to be sad, the gravity of the situation and the contrast tells me so. But the explosion is so visually appealing that I catch myself exclaiming “Beautiful!” at the sight.)
(And, good use of music. I wasn’t too impressed with the soundtrack thus far, but, good choice of music here.)
The force of the impact throws Zai Tian back on the hard pavement. When he registers what’s happening, he charges into the burning building, trying to find Xiao Mei.
All the while, a man watches silently in the distance.
By the time the police arrived, they found Chen Zai Tian curled up in a corner, completely shutting off from the rest of the world. Even Xi Ying couldn’t get him to talk.
When Hero comes to the crime scene with Chen Lin, Xi Ying observes that Hero and Chen Lin have reconciled. She asks, “No more conflicting feelings?” He contradicts her, “No, still feeling conflicted. But feelings can’t be controlled, so I’ll let it be and see how things go.”
Hero and Chen Lin took turns trying to get Zai Tian to talk. They coaxed, threatened, and cooed, but none worked. They couldn’t understand why Zai Tian is so far removed from his usual self, but they do know something very wrong must have happened. When Hero shook Zai Tian to get a response, they discovered the burnt piece of plastic ID card in Zai Tian’s fist. Looking from the ID to the destroyed burger shop, they suddenly knew.
Zai Tian sat there, waiting. As if all of this is just a bad dream, he has simply fallen asleep while waiting for Xiao Mei to get off work. Still clenching the ID, Zai Tian gently touches Xiao Mei’s face in the photo, as a token of love.
Chen Lin joins Zai Tian at the deserted ruins with food, liquor, and a cheery attitude, hoping to brighten him up.
Still reticent, he grabs the bottle and starts drinking fervently, drowning himself in sorrow.
Chen Lin snatches the bottle from him a couple times, but he wouldn’t budge. Exasperated and worried sick, Chen Lin snaps, “Do you think she will come back if you keep wasting away sitting here? She won’t!”
Deep down, Zai Tian knows she’s gone. She will never come back again. But hearing the truth articulated into words is like taking a shard of broken glass and thrusting it into his chest. “Just leave me alone!” he screams and staggers away.
Chen Lin follows him, barely able to keep up. He swaggers and stumbles, images of Xiao Mei looping through his head over and over again.
If we are a family, then promise, no one will leave the other. She had said that only yesterday. Now, she’s already gone.
The ticket! The ticket they both carefully stowed away and promised to use again next time.
He returns to the theme park and stops in front of the ride they didn’t get to go on. Now they will never get on it. The agonizing pain, the bleak hopelessness, and the overwhelming feelings of loss pounds him every step of the way, weighing him down until he couldn’t breath. Finally, he collapses. Trembling, sobbing, and holding the ticket.
All the while, Xiao Ma watches in a dark corner, unfeeling.
(Again, another good choice of music.)
Many things are happening at once. First, the madame sitting on the side when Zai Tian was asked to meet with an agent interrogating the spy case reports to her superior. She notes Zai Tian’s records are fake and she will see to it to find out about his past. However, she adds, “His lack of a past is also his biggest weakness. I will make him submit to us in no time.”
Second, Xi Ying discovers Xiao Ma in the pictures she took of the crime scene. Recalling that certain killers like to stay around and admire their masterpiece, Xi Ying reminds Hero to keep an eye out for the hot dog vendor.
Taking advantage of Zai Tian’s fading consciousness, Xiao Ma carries Zai Tian home and enters his house. (He needed Zai Tian’s finger print to open the door.) Once in, Xiao Ma swiftly moves around the room, searching for something. Little does he know, like moth to flame, everyone is coming to Zai Tian’s house tonight, each through different means.
As Xiao Ma reaches over to save a digital copy of Zai Tian’s finger print, the door bell rings. He tenses and heads towards the door, a gun ready. Meanwhile, those on the roof also duck down to observe the unprecedented visitor, prepared to do whatever the situation calls for. (Hey, a tipsy mob boss’ daughter coming to a cop’s house this late at night, that’s enough writing material for a gossip columnist! Just sayin’.)
Chen Lin rings the door bell n times. At the (n+1) th time, she starts to bang on the door, yelling Chen Zai Tian’s name, cursing for him to open up. Xiao Ma recognizes Chen Lin’s voice from the inside. A brief moment of surprise is registered as he lowers the gun, not sure what to do.
Moments later, Hero joins Chen Lin. Upon seeing Hero, those on the roof decide that things are getting too complicated at the moment and start to head back. Inside, Xiao Ma continues to stay by the door. When he hears Hero’s voice, he raises his gun again — come what may, he is ready for a bloody gun fight!
Leaning against the door, Chen Lin tells Hero what happened since she brought a bottle of alcohol to see Zai Tian. (What, Hero is now the best gay friend?)
Chen Lin: “I feel so useless. After so much has happened, I can only watch.”
Hero: “Don’t blame yourself. I’m sure he’s just had a big shock. Give him some time.”
Wiping away her tears, Chen Lin gets up to leave. “Let me take you home,” Hero offers. Chen Lin declines, wanting to stay out a little longer, maybe a stroke of luck will let her find Zai Tian.
The next morning, Hero drops by his primary suspect’s cart before going to work. He copies down Xiao Ma’s ID number for future reference.
The most rudimentary assessment on the explosion rules in favor of an accident. After the mini meeting, the director of the police station calls Xi Ying for a talk. She gets dinged for two things 1) for looking up information on Starkozy and 2) for helping Hero on the Lin Ke Le case after he’s been transferred to a different unit.
As expected, Chen Zai Tian didn’t show up for work that day. At night, Chen Lin and Hero visits his house again. When he doesn’t answer the door, Hero breaks into the house (Hey, more headline news material!).
The place is a big mess, but Chen Zai Tian is no where to be seen. So out to the local bars, clubs, and restaurants they went, in search of Zai Tian. They couldn’t find him anywhere.
Aimlessly, Zai Tian wanders. Images of the past envelop him, devouring, and instill him in nostalgia. Some are happy, some are sad, but they all have to do with Xiao Mei… Still deeply affected by the loss, he reaches for any alcohol he can find, regardless of the consequences that might spur from his thievery.
As the liquor slowly intoxicates Zai Tian, more of his past is revealed.
Three years ago Christmas. After a nameless vagabond held a customer hostage to threaten for food, a girl stepped out and gave the vagabond a bag of burgers. She told him it’s Christmas, everybody gets a present and packed him a pair of white mittens. He grabbed the bag of burgers, gave the kind girl a look of gratitude, and headed out.
He ran back to the underside of the bridge, where he dwelt and ate with ravenous hunger. He choked and as he clumsily looked for a drop of water, his hand reached for the warm mittens. Looking at his own tattered ones, he cried for a long time.
Later that night, as he holds the white mittens in hand, lost in thought, two masked men (literally) dropped from the sky…
Unlike many, having Zai Zai in a drama isn’t an automatic win for me. There needs to be a certain appeal to keep me interested — whether it be the emotional provocation, character chemistry, plot intensity, or just the style of storytelling — as long as there is one thing that stands out, I’m generally forgiving of the less polished parts, if any.
This episode is, without saying, emotionally rousing first and visually stunning second (beautiful, beautiful explosion).
Before this point, Zai Zai is just a good actor to me — good but not excellent. (Compared to most TW actors out there, he is REALLY good. But when you factor in the production quality and acting maturity that you see in some Doramas and Kdramas, the shiny halo on top of Zai Zai’s head dims a little.) But in this episode, his acting is GREAT. He delivered the pain so well and so clearly, that I can relate to it and feel it as I’m watching him. That’s seat grabbing, GOOD angst.
Of course, the planning plays a crutial role in making this episode emotionally striking. The chirpy early half of the episode lifts you up to a hight and dumps you when the explosion occurs. Then it’s downhill from there — but it happened in bouts, so we aren’t tired out by the constant harping of angst. So, great planning and great acting!
My only complain is that there has been so much talk about the explosion prior to this episode, when I actually watched it, a lot of the shock that would’ve been there was taken away from me. Hey that’s why spoilers are such mood-destroyers!
Finally, I hope this recap did justice to Chen Zai Tian’s pain and delivered half of what was played out on screen.
Oh and, please, please don’t just take the recap and repost it elsewhere.