Next Stop, Happiness Episode 4 Recap

Whether Mucheng did or didn’t seduce Ah Cai is a moot point. Once Auntie has the time to mull things over, it becomes apparent that her real concern is whether Mucheng considers her a mother. And the answer is yes.

“‘Mother’ to me is nothing but a salutation, devoid of meaning.” Mucheng wrote, “But the person who’s been there for me, doing the things only a mother would do for her child is you, my dear auntie.” She recounted shared memories with Auntie and expressed regret for not verbalizing her gratitude earlier. At the end of the letter, she concluded, “I’m sorry to have caused you pain, forgive me, mother.”

Wiping a tear away, Auntie stubbornly tells herself, “It doesn’t matter. She’s still done something wrong.” With a sniffle, Auntie folds the letter and stows it away in her pocket. She then gets up to store the newly washed blankets — only to discover how wrong she is.

She finds a stack of photos hidden beneath many layers of linens. Looking through them, a wave of nausea stirs up in Auntie’s stomach: these are all pictures of Mucheng, taken unawares. A good half of them are aimed at Mucheng’s bare legs and a few are photos of Mucheng in the shower. With a howl, Auntie crumbles.

After a day of preparation, Guangxi takes Mucheng home. Before parting ways, Mucheng tells Guangxi that she isn’t all that concerned with the outcome of tomorrow’s trial. If they were to win, all the better. But if they were to lose, she would feel bad for letting those who helped her down. Auntie may buy into the accusation and blame her for what she didn’t do but what other people think matters little to her. “Even if the worse case scenario were to come true, I still have you.” Guangxi looks up at the remark, Mucheng continues, “This is the first time I feel I’m being protected. The first time I feel that I’m being respected as a person. Ren Guangxi, thank you.”

Flustered after such a confession, Mucheng rushes to the door to hide her blushing. Guangxi, positively delighted by the reciprocation of feelings, stops her and teases that he deserves some kind of reward. She promises to cook him a big meal if they were to win tomorrow. He gladly accepts.

While Guangxi and Mucheng are bridging the distance between each other, Tuoye is busy retrieving the video recording from Aili. To do so, he seeks her out and orchestrates a rescue scene to gain her trust. He frames Aili’s cousin, the hockey captain who helped Aili kidnap Mucheng, for trafficking drugs. When the security guard (one of Tuoye’s older friends) tries to detain them all, Tuoye grabs Aili by the hand to run away from the scene. It’s a lame ruse but Aili, aroused by the thrill of the situation, invites Tuoye home. Anticipating a night of hot copulation, Aili foolishly instructs her maid not to interfere, no matter what she hears.

Once upstairs, Tuoye ties Aili’s hands to the bedpost. Aili, mistakes it for foreplay, laughs lewdly and urges Tuoye on. (I’m not sure if I should be disgusted by her perversion or laugh at her rediculousness in the face of irony.) But as soon as the tying is done, Tuoye turns his attention to her laptop. When he fails to hack into the computer, he takes it and hops out of her bedroom window. Aili is left cursing and crying for help. But no help will come, the maid downstairs simply shakes her head in disapproval.

When morning replaces night, the battle for justice starts. Mucheng places her hand (trust) in Guangxi’s, together they head to the school’s courthouse.

Meanwhile, Ah Cai is also leaving the house. He bids Auntie goodbye and asks if she’s going out later, he’s not going to bring the key — they only have one key. In Auntie’s naiveté, she had envisioned the two of them being together in all aspects of life like newly weds and rejected the idea of one key per person as absurd. (Yes my dear reader, this is your cue to laugh at the ironic nature of the previous stentence.)

She mumbles ambiguously that he should take the key with him but he suggests she stay at home to await his return. She helps him to the door and tidies his suit jacket for him, ranting all the while that at middle age, he is still incapable of taking care of himself. Oblivious to Auntie’s faint sadness, Ah Cai proudly points to his tacky suit and brags, “I was reserving this suit for our wedding day!” On a second thought, he proposes to marry her when everything is over.

She watches him go with a heavy sigh. Then, she takes out the crumpled piece of paper with Guangxi’s number written on it.

The first person to testify against Ah Cai is the soft-shell turtle vendor. She regurgitates the event on the day Ah Cai and Mucheng came to shop and tells the jury, with confidence, that Ah Cai lusts after Mucheng. “Any sharp-eyed businessperson can tell,” she says.

When it’s Xu Fangguo’s turn to question the witness, he walks up to the vendor and raises two fingers at her chest. She flinches back instinctively. With a sly smile, he lowers his hand to raise the microphone. Turning to the jury, he pointedly explains, “Don’t misconstrue my motive, I’m simply adjusting the microphone.” (Clever.) Without giving up a single opportunity to discredit the witness, Xu Fangguo presses, “What makes you so sure that my client harasses the defendant when my client’s wife doesn’t even notice? Are you certain you are not mistaken in that regard as you were with me moving the microphone?” The implication hangs in the air, the witness struggles for an explanation but fails to do so. When she’s leaving the witness stand, it’s with an apologetic look at Mucheng.

More witnesses are called into the court, some add to Mucheng’s advantage, most don’t. The bomb is dropped when two students give the testimony of seeing Guangxi and Mucheng leaving the piano room together in the morning, after spending the night together. (Hah the spend-a-night cliché ends up being useful.)

Using Mucheng and Guangxi’s unusual association as a weapon to blur focus, Ah Cai appeals to emotion by calling the jury’s attention to the injury Guangxi inflicted on him. “He did this to me when he found out I was also one of Mucheng’s clients!” Jealousy, as he puts it, is the best evidence that Mucheng indeed goes around seducing men.

No matter, because Guangxi has more substantial evidences. He shows pictures of Mucheng’s room and the bathroom, especially the 894584934 bolts on the doors and the wood used to block the window. There are only two other people living in the house with her, if she’s really the prostitute that Ah Cai claims she is, why does she need all those bolts and locks? Guangxi’s point casts a layer of doubt with the jury, but the victory is a small one.

Pretty soon, the tide is turned once again with Ah Cai’s persistent charge and Fangguo accusation crashing down on Mucheng. The rebuttal reaches a brutal boiling point and Mucheng is on the brink of tears. At last, Guangxi shouts out, “I can prove it!” and breaks the tension.

Guangxi buttons his suit and calmly walks to the center of the courtroom, “My peers all know how I was before. The me before would never stand here and do what I’m doing right now. Why would I care about a bento girl’s reputation? Figuring out ways to playing pranks on women entertains me more.” He looks to the audience and recognizes one of his ex-girlfriends, “Julia, you’re here today. Sorry, I stood you up eight times. (If he remembers how many times he’s stood her up then he’s got some consideration for her feelings. On the other hand… she let him stand her up eight times?!) Oh Tiffany. I admit the reason I asked you out is due to a bet with a friend. I apologize now.

“To me, women used to be either the fly that wants to experience the high brow upper class life or the leach that seeks material satisfaction. But that girl over there taught me otherwise. Compare to her, my life is so much better. I don’t have to worry about the miscellaneous things in life, I don’t have endless amounts of work everyday, nor do I have to worry that one night, when I’m fast asleep, my uncle will sneak in and attempt to rape me.

“To spare her auntie the pain and the embarrassment, she kept incidents of harassment to herself since high school.

“She works part time jobs at the fish market just so she can earn enough money to go to college and leave this dysfunctional home. From washing the fish to cleaning the fish, never once did she complain about the smell. Liang Mucheng does what other girls run away from. And what did she get? Humiliation and injustice.”

Guangxi bends down to looks at Mucheng in the eye; holding her gaze, he continues, “For the first time in my life, I want to treasure someone. To protect her from harm’s way.” The past few days’ experience flash before their eyes, some sweet, some bitter. Mucheng smiles at Guangxi through her tear filled eyes, Guangxi smiles back.

Without further evidence to be presented, the trial comes to a natural stop. Just as the jury speaks the verdict, Tuoye swoops in to save the day. He has the security camera tape.

With the publicization of the tape, Mucheng’s innocence is prove. Zhang Aili’s involvement in the spreading of unhealthy rumors and the attempt to kidnap are exposed. She’ll open her door to find punishment coming her way. (Serves her right.)

Ah Cai staggers home to pack his belongings, planning to run away from the law. But no one is home. Auntie has left him (HAH!). As he smashes a mirror in fury, he vows to seek revenge.

With good news comes bad news. Hua Tuoye is leaving. His mother is old, he’s been away from home for too long and should return to help her. Yada yada yada. Truth be told, Tuoye has sensed the intimacy growing between Mucheng and Guangxi and he’s quietly fading from the picture…

Victor Wong – I Thought [download] This is the exact song that played during this segment. It’s an old song from an old album but the soft music and the scene did complement each other quite well.

He hands Mucheng a soda cap, she’s surprised that he kept it. He beams proudly and they sink into a fond remembrance…

Tuoye was being chased by a group of gangsters. He ran in a small bookstore and ran into Mucheng. He explained that he was evading a chase and asked for her help. So she created a diversion to distract the pursuers but they were spotted nonetheless. He dragged her away and they hid in a convenient store. A gangster hovered by but didn’t catch them. After the chase was over, Tuoye bought Mucheng a bottle of coca-cola. She gave him the cap for good luck and he promised her that if he’s hungry, he’ll frequent her bento stand.

That was how Tuoye and Mucheng became friends.

Guangxi’s mother isn’t too happy about her son’s love confession in court — it’s bad for business, especially when she’s trying to arrange his marriage with her business partner’s daughter. Consequently, Guangxi gets called into her office, where Yiqian’s father is waiting for an explanation. The adults are gravely disappointed to hear that Guangxi meant every word he said in court (wanting to treasure and protect the lowly bento girl). Yiqian’s father asks Guangxi if it’s impossible for him to be with Yiqian. Guangxi replies that it’s not impossible, but Yiqian won’t be happy with him. He feels no love toward her (and she knows this), forcing them together will only house resentment. “Why don’t you try going out with Yiqian and see if you two are compatible?” the father offers an alternative. (Quite the businessman, he knows his bargaining power well.) Guangxi rejects the offer, his heart belongs to another and now, he must go to her.

As he steps out of the office, Guangxi faints in the hallway (minor observation: he looks stiff as a corpse in the screen cap below). Ambulance is called, brain scan performed, and Guangxi is diagnosed with brain tumor.

In the meantime, an oblivious Mucheng is happily cooking Guangxi his reward meal…

Comments

I made you wait for this one didn’t I? Don’t hit me, it’s not my fault! Not entirely at least. I’m gonna blame it on the episode. (No, it’s not poor time management. Not that at all.)

It’s really nice to see Guangxi finding purpose in life, it’s also nice to see Mucheng getting justice. But the court scene felt like the Disney version of Law & Order. Meaning it’s watered down, unprofessional, and too far removed from reality. Had the writer shown more effort on Guangxi’s part (i.e. going out and persuading the neighbors to testify), the victory at the end would be more meaningful. Because I’m just sitting there counting minutes for Tuoye to appear with the one crucial evidence that’ll overturn all previous build up. In other words, the security camera recording is what truly matters. And to know that it’s acquired so early in the game made the rest of this episode a tiring drag.

As flawed as this episode was, it did spice up towards the end. The brief interaction between Tuoye and Mucheng for instance, had a warm feel to it that made me want to see more of them two together. I suspect he’s going to be one of the second male leads that I’ll like enough to root for.

6 thoughts on “Next Stop, Happiness Episode 4 Recap”

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your description of this episode – you write very eloquently 🙂

    Anyway, I was thinking… The court scene isn’t actually held in a real court. I’m not sure if I’m correct, but wasn’t it meant for the law students to put what they have learned into practice while also serving justice?

    I like how this drama progresses quite fast, making it more of an anticipation, rather than making me think “come on, get on with the story…”

    For the most part, it’s pretty easy to predict what’s going to happen, but I do love how Mucheng placing he hand in Guangxi’s hand is always emphasized showing the trust that she is placing in him. (Or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.)

    I’m looking forward your view on the next episode, thanks for writing the recaps and reviews 🙂

  2. Personally, I feel that this episode is the weakest out of the first 4 (I have my thoughts about ep 5, but I won’t spoil it for you). My two favorite moments were the beginning and end, Mucheng’s letter to Xiao Ayi and Muchen and Tuoye’s flashback. Neither of those scenes involved the leads, which was disappointing because the previous episodes showed some natural and poignant interactions between the two. You’re right about the trial being a watered-down version of Law and Order because I definitely fast-forwarded through it. It was just a lot of Guangxi rehashing the abuse Muchen faced with A LOT of legal mumbo-jumbo sandwiched in. Chinese is not Vanness’ first language, and I could really tell he was just trying to get all his lines out in one go. Kudos to him for effort though… I saw a BTS of him rehearsing and filming for the court scene, and he looked nervous.

    Gotta love the veteran actors in this show because the actors who play Xiao Ayi and Ah Cai did a good job, as they usually do. I never really liked Xiao Ayi, but the scene in the beginning with Muchen’s letter gave some more depth into their relationship. I could tell that Xiao Ayi was not just using her, but really loves her too.

    The Muchen/Tuoye backstory was well done and a refresher from all the “legality” in the ep. I hope the show goes more in-depth into their relationship, especially 6 years later, when Muchen has her son.

    Can’t wait for your next recap! Ep 5 is…

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